Eric Thames (37), who has experienced the KBO League, the US Major League, and the Japanese Professional Baseball (NPB), has officially ended his eventful 14-year career as a player.
Thames wrote on his social media on the 16th (Korean time), “Finally, that day has come. I have been blessed so much that I have called baseball my vocation for 14 years. Thank you for liking my hairstyle, beard, and sideburns. Have fun with everyone. I did my best to do it,” he said. It is a declaration of retirement.
In particular, he said in Korean, “From worrying about retirement to signing with NC. I didn’t expect to fall in love with a country so quickly. I certainly had no idea how much fun it would be to play in the KBO. “Thank you for embracing me and Dinos. No matter which team you support, I love you all. I will be visiting Korea often, so please do not hesitate to say hello when you see me,” he said goodbye to Korean fans. told
After joining NPB Yomiuri Giants in 2021 and hitting the Asian stage once again, he suffered a leg injury in his debut game, hinting at the end of his playing career. Last year, he signed a minor league contract with the Oakland Athletics and tried to re-enter the big leagues, but he couldn’t overcome his decline and eventually chose to retire.
Thames is a representative example of successful reverse export produced by the KBO League. Thames, who started his professional career after being drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 7th round of the 2008 Major League Baseball Draft, made his dream big league debut in 2011.
In 2014, his first season with NC, he hit a batting average of 0.343 and hit 37 home runs, truly bursting with ‘potential’. In 2015, he achieved 40 home runs -40 stolen bases, an unprecedented feat in KBO league history, and was named MVP of the regular season that year and began to attract attention from the major leagues again. Thames, who continued his momentum with a batting average of 0.321, 40 home runs and 121 RBIs in 2016, the final season of his contract, received an offer from the Milwaukee Brewers for three years and $16 million at the end of that year and succeeded in reentering the major leagues.
In 2017, the first season of his contract with Milwaukee, he recorded a batting average of 0.247, 31 home runs, 63 RBIs, and an OPS of 0.877, so he is on the road to success as a big leaguer. He slowed down due to a thumb ligament injury in 2018, but succeeded in making a comeback in 2019 with a batting average of 0.247 and hitting 25 home runs. However, he never returned to the majors after 41 games with the Washington Nationals in 2020.
It is difficult to summarize Thames’ baseball life in a few lines, but it is hard to deny that he was the best hitter of all time in Korea. He had a batting average of 0.349, 124 home runs, and 382 RBIs over three seasons. Among hitters with more than 1,500 at bats in the KBO League, Thames ranks first in batting average. If you narrow it down to more than 2,000 at-bats, Kiwoom Heroes’ Lee Jung-hoo ranks first with 0.342, but if Thames played one more season in Korea, the ranking might have changed.
Above all, 40-40 achieved in 144 games is evaluated as a valuable record that is difficult to come out forever. If it is relatively short, he was an excellent hitter who left a distinct mark in the short 3 years.
Two foreign hitters who dominated the KBO league before Thames can be named. Tyrone Woods and Felix Jose are the early players of the foreign player system. Woods joined the OB Bears in 1998 and hit 174 homers in his five years until 2002. He is the all-time record holder for the most home runs by a foreigner. In his first season, he hit 42 home runs and 103 RBIs and was named MVP. He led Doosan’s heyday as a member of the ‘Udonsu Trio’ at the time. In 2001, he became the Korean Series MVP and contributed greatly to the team’s victory. Woods is the only foreign player who has played MVP in the regular season, All-Star Game, and Korean Series in the KBO League. 메이저사이트
He moved to Japan and shone even more with the Yokohama Baystars and Chunichi Dragons, becoming the home run king three times with a total of 240 home runs in six seasons.
Jose was also a legendary foreign hitter that cannot be left out. He left a rough image, such as the 1999 playoff bat throwing incident and the 2001 Bae Young-soo face hit incident, but all pitchers were afraid of him at the plate. The representative record Jose left in the KBO League was the highest on-base percentage (0.503) in a season set in 2001. Jose posted a batting average of 0.335 (123 hits in 367 at-bats) that year, 127 walks, 36 home runs, and 102 RBIs, a season in which he had more walks than hits. There has never been a batter whose pitchers were so reluctant to play head-to-head.
Jose played 4 seasons over 3 periods at the Lotte Giants. This is the part where the ‘fortunate’ temperament of the batting genius is buried.