On Monday, the Washington Nationals signed Eric Thames to a one year $4 million contract to help fill the offensive void left by Anthony Rendon. I understood that Thames was well respected and has had an unique career trajectory, but as I dug deeper, I realized that I may have found my new favorite player.
While combing the internet, I found one reason after another to root for Thames. I knew that he left the US for five seasons and played in Korea before his triumphant return in 2017, but there is a lot to like about Thames beyond the headline.
He obviously evolved as a player during his time in Korea, but he also immersed himself into the culture. He learned Korean so well that he was a performer on The Masked Singer. Thames destroyed the songs like they were hanging curve balls and had the crowd eating up every minute of it. The dude is an icon in Korea.
I was impressed with every interview that I watched of Thames. He seems to have taken something significant from everywhere his journey has taken him. From Pepperdine University, through the mid-west during his minor leagues, Toronto, Korea, and back to Major League baseball, Thames has found value in every stop. In the clip below (0:36) Thames says “life is never linear, things happen. There are ups and downs, but it’s how you respond to it that shows your character.” His perspective is unique, global and will certainly add to the clubhouse and with the younger Nationals.
The off-season exit of Gerardo Parra means Nationals fans have to retire Baby Shark, but luckily, Thames comes equipped with a theme of his own. I may be an optimist here, but I could see this taking off.
Thames also appears poised to take on the role left behind by “Shirtless” Brian Dozier.
Thames’s offensive production will certainly be a positive but as Nationals fans have learned through the years (and was proven last season), there is a lot more that goes into making a championship caliber team than numbers. Thames has proven to have a lot of the “team first” attributes that made the 2019 Nationals special. Hopefully 2020 will be just as good of a ride.