Jim Thome’s Greatest Dodger At-Bat During 2009 Playoffs

Jim Thome as a Dodger

Former Dodger outfielder Jim Thome was just recently elected into the baseball hall of fame. The grizzled slugger spent the majority of his career with the Cleveland Indians but also notched time with the Phillies, Twins, White Sox, Orioles and yes the Dodgers.

Thome crushed 612 home runs and collected 2,328 hits over a 22-year big league career. Thome played briefly with the Dodgers in 2009. The White Sox traded him to the Dodgers that August for cash and a minor leaguer that was named later. Thome primarily served as a pinch-hitter of the bench and his short Dodger career was less than memorable.

Thome tallied 17 plate appearances during the regular season for the Dodgers and was 4 for 17 (.235) with 3 runs batted in. He did have one at-bat as a Dodger that was worth remembering and it came as a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the eighth inning of game 2 of the 2009 NLCS against Philadelphia.

Setting the stage, the Dodgers were initially down 1-0 in the bottom of the eighth inning. The home crowd was deflated and the boys in blue were in danger of falling behind 2-0 in the series. There was a Casey Blake ground ball single, a Ronnie Belliard bunt single, A Russell Martin Force play that Chase Utley threw into the Philadelphia dugout and about five Philadelphia pitching changes. The score was tied at 1-1, and the Dodgers had a runner at second. Thome’s pinch-hit single extended the inning which eventually led to the Andre Ethier bases-loaded walk that gave the Dodgers the lead. Watch the highlight below (at 2:39)…..

Jim Thome had 2,328 hits over his lengthy illustrious career. Only five of those came as a Dodger. However one of those hits was pretty darned important. Too bad that game was the lone Dodger win of the series. That doesn’t diminish Thome’s contributions to that rally. Don’t forget that Thome indeed was once a Dodger for a very brief time and he was bad. Except for one useful at-bat.

Scott Andes

Scott Andes

Scott Andes: Former Co-editor of Lasorda's Lair. Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic

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57 thoughts on “Jim Thome’s Greatest Dodger At-Bat During 2009 Playoffs

  1. Small correction to your story – Thome had 3 RBIs, not 3 walks. 17 PA’s, 17 AB’s means no BB ‘s.

    So, you think he still makes the HOF without those hits as a Dodger?

      1. Not really Scott. It would have been memorable if the Dodgers had won that series and advanced to the big dance. As it was, until you wrote about it I had totally forgot that series. One thing I do remember is against the Mets, two Dodgers caught out at home plate on the same throw……think it was Martin and Kent. Not sure, but I remember that bone headed play. I remember Stairs killing us in one of those series with the Phils. He owned Broxton.

    1. I never considered Thome a true Dodger. He was that August pick up that they hoped might bring lightning in a bottle never happened. I can name a ton of those guys over the years. Rocky Colovito, Wes Covington, Boog Powell, yeah, Boog was a Dodger for a very short time. Very few of those guys ever did anything in Dodger blue. Powell had about as memorable stay as Thome……very forgetful. Clubs always seem to think that veteran slugger will bring magic to your team. Yankees getting Canseco….Even the Angels brought him to spring training one year. And if I remember right so did the Dodgers. Dodgers over the years have brought quite a few of those guys in. I really cannot remember any of them having a significant impact.

        1. Yeah but Granderson at least did some damage. He hit a few homers, but flopped in the playoffs which is why they got him in the first place.

  2. Keith Law has the Dodgers’ system at #9, down from #5. I’m not sure I know what he is saying in the following:

    The Dodgers still have a few high-beta prospects, such as DJ Peters and Mitch White, who have high upside with lower probability and don’t offer that middle ground of potential outcomes.

    1. Beta probably means B. B and high B prospects, in my opinion, are the ones you use for guys like Yelich and Cole. Pederson, De Leon, Schebler, Holmes and Lee are past examples. Verdugo, Alvarez and White are current examples. Urias was an A. Who knows now. Our only other A prospect is Buehler. You just never know how B prospects will do in the Show. That’s why when you can, you move them for proven players.

      And, I don’t agree with that “middle ground” of potential outcomes comment. Of course they offer that. They could all be average Major League players.

        1. Close MJ…..It is Buehler, Alvarez and then White. Then Sheffield, Santana, May, Abdullah, Marinan, than Cooper. Only LHP in the top 30 is Caleb Ferguson.

          1. Michael

            Take a look at Baseball America’s top ten Dodgers prospects, in 2018.

            White is rated fourth, and Alvarez is rated fifth.

            And in Baseball America’s top 100 prospects in baseball.

            White is rated 69, and Alvarez is not even in the top 100.

          2. MJ and Yueh……I looked on the Dodger Web site and that is how the Dodgers have them listed. Maybe MLB looks at them differently, but look at the Dodgers top 30 prospects and that’s the order they are listed in. I do not post anything unless I look it up first and my first look is always at the Dodgers site….don’t shoot the messenger. And Yueh, the Dodgers do not seem to think so on Alvarez

      1. Don’t think so Badger, here’s a Keith Law write-up of the recent Ozuna trade:

        The St. Louis Cardinals wanted outfield help and they got it, trading from their two organizational strengths of outfield and starting pitching prospects, while adding a somewhat high-beta outfielder in Marcell Ozuna who could make them several wins better by himself. For the Miami Marlins, it’s the best baseball move they’ve made this winter, but that’s not saying a whole lot.

        1. Beta means variability. It’s a stock market term. Low floor high ceiling.

          I don’t think Ozuna is a high beta player. He hasn’t had a really bad season yet – this makes me think Keith Law just uses the term to mean “upside”. Beta really means both probable upside and downside.

          I think guys like Joc or Grandal would be high beta players. Ozuna is not.

          1. I made it up guys. At the time I had no idea what Law was talking about, but I do now and honestly I don’t much care. Why not just say high ceiling players. And by the way, beta means many different things. It’s a software term, in finance it refers to volatility, it’s the second brightest star, one of two or more isomeric compounds in chemistry, an unfinished version in the urban dictionary and it also means B.

            In baseball, according to data scientist David Robinson, the beta distribution can be understood as representing all the values of probability. I’d post the article explaining it in detail but it would likely sit in moderation until Monday. It’s an interesting read though, with of course the required charts and algorithmic formulas for all baseball nerds. Tell you what, I’ll write a separate post and link it.

          2. YF

            When you only deal with low floor, and high ceiling, you are never lose.

            Because the risk is so low, and if you get lucky, it looks so good!

        2. Michael

          I only knew that, because someone had posted the top 100 prospects in baseball.

          And I read that Alvarez took a big drop, because he can’t get the ball over the plate.

          1. I know that the baseball site has them listed differently MJ. My point and the fact is that on the Dodger website, as of today, because I looked again, Alvarez is rated as the Dodgers #3 prospect behind Buehler and Verdugo. White is rated #7 and no amount of arguing by you is going to change what is posted on their website until they change it themselves……by the way, I do not care how baseball America or the MLB site rates the players. I look at how they are rated by the Dodgers themselves…….and until they prove themselves in the bigs, they are nothing more than fodder for the minor league system. PROSPECTS……..that is all they are.

  3. Interesting comments from our ACE, CK. He was commenting on the state of free agency. Mainly he said he was concentrating on this season and nothing else. He did not discuss his pending chance to opt out and only said that opting out is an option. The players themselves seem somewhat concerned that it is taking so long for the big time free agents to get contract offers. But the ugly C word has not popped up yet. Kersh has openly campaigned for the Dodgers to re-sign Darvish as has Turner.

    1. Badger

      Thanks, because when I tried to see the MLB Dodgers top Prospects, for 2018, I couldn’t find anything, except three Dodgers, listed on the MLB pipeline, 100 prospects for 2018.

      And I saw on another MLB article
      about the 2018 prospects , that said Alvarez had dropped the most, and I noticed, they mentioned that Jose Deleon, had dropped a lot too.

  4. According to chatter on Twitter, 4 teams interested in Kemp including the Cubs and the Rays. If they could get Archer in a trade for Matt, that would be ok. Another blurb on there said they were also discussing a Kemp-Braun deal. The Dodgers would save 3 million on that. But it makes not one bit of sense. They had Kemp, Stewart and Thompson going to the Brewers for Braun and Santana. Not sure why the Brewers would trade a 30 HR guy right after they totally bolster their OF with Yelich and Cain.

    1. Santana? If the Brewers are going to trade Santana they can do better. Braun, by today’s standards, ain’t all that expensive. 29, 19, and 17 million until he is 36, then a 15 option. Can he still hit? Keep him healthy and he might. But, we already have a basketball team in left, and no room for Santana in right. Unless there is more to it, I agree this doesn’t make much sense. Kemp a Cub? In that park, in that division, yeah, I can see that, but I doubt it. The Rays do make sense. Send some cash and a few of those Beta players and it could work.

  5. We may not know what the FO is thinking or doing, but this ownership sure knows how to piss the fans off. Was reading about their new Dynamic pricing policy. One game a seat might cost you 33 dollars, the next it could cost 80. Probably depending on the opponent. I remember them doing something similar and calling those games premium games. Also with the 45 percent increase in season tickets, we might be looking at an attendance drop. They had better watch it because they might not have the money to pay Kershaw if this keeps up. Of course they are beyond rich so no problems for them except the hit they are taking in the public’s view. They have the fans by the balls because of the TV mess. Glad I am in Colorado where I can watch all the chaos and not get burned by it.

  6. Went to Wally World this morning and the new Street and Smith baseball edition is in. Now I know what I am going to read today!

  7. Urias has not even started throwing yet. He says his re-hab is going well and he expects to be ready by mid season. Lots of rumors floating, but no real action on either the FA front or trade talk. Eerily quiet this time of year. 17 days until pitchers and catchers report…..

    1. Bad news there on Urias. At this rate I think we don’t see him at all until September. Kids are not supposed to take this long to recover.

      1. I never thought he would be ready anyway. New post says Zaidi expects Kemp to be in spring training with the Dodgers……..also said he has been working out and re-connecting with his team mates and that he is in great shape.

        1. Zaidi also intimated the team would rather not have Kemp around: “For any OF coming into our situation, it’s not a great spot. There aren’t ABs readily available. He understands the dynamic. … He’s going to have a chance to prove himself if he’s still in this organization.”

          Other stuff he said:

          On the possibility of the Dodgers re-signing Yu Darvish: “There would be some hurdles for us to add any significant contracts at this point.”
          LAD does not want to push any closer to luxury tax threshold than they already are. So there would have to be off-setting moves.

          Roberts said Kemp IF he’s still on the team would primarily play LF, maybe with the occasional fill-in in RF. “Where he’s at physically with the ankle, he looks good. But he’s not running like he was 3-4-5 years ago.”

          Yasmani Grandal is “expecting to win his job back,” Dave Roberts said.

          1. He’s not running like he did 3-4-5 years ago?

            Really?

            Who is?

            Roberts doesn’t see many at bats for Kemp. Duh. There will be over 600 at bats by a left fielder this year. Divide that by 5. Somebody gonna be disappointed.

            Grandal is dreaming.

          2. Bluto

            Roberts said he is excited, to have Kemp on the team.

            And I wouldn’t bet against his bat, he is a really good hitter, with power.

            And like Kenley said, Matt can carry a team.

            The last time he was here, he was one of the top hitters in baseball, in the second half, of the season.

          3. “We choose to believe what we choose to be true” – Spinoza

            For examples you only need to look anywhere. This is a Spinoza Palooza world and getting worse every day.

  8. “I think the great thing about having an option is that it’s an option. It’s not really a decision,” Kershaw said to reporters at the Dodgers’ Community Tour event Friday. “I think, for me, it’s just go out, try and pitch, be healthy, and then if I have option at the end of the year, great. … So I’ve got to stay healthy every fifth day.“

    Huh? Having an option is an option and it’s not a decision. Try and pitch, then if I have an option, great.

    WTF is he talking about? Is this Texas think? Does he really believe fans will buy that b.s.? There is no “if” with that option, that option most definitely IS. He’s gonna “try and pitch”. What kind of message is that? He’s paid over a million dollars every time he takes the hill, he’d better do better than try.

    Somebody should school this guy on messaging. His agents name is Smart. If he is, he will write better speeches for his client. “Option? That suggests a choice. I am under contract with this team for 3 years. This is my team. I choose to pitch this team to World Series victory THIS year.”

    1. Bluto

      Sometimes the numbers don’t tell all of the truth.

      And Kemp has already proved he is motivated to be back, on the Dodgers, because he is in really good shape.

      Take a look at his offensive numbers in the second half of the season when he was last a Dodger, I think only Posey had a better half that year.

      And look at his offensive numbers since he left, except 2017, because he was on the DL in 2017, so his numbers are not as good.

      If he is average on defense in left, he is a good hitter, and he would be very capable of protecting Cody in the line up, better then anyone else on the team, I believe.

      And with the way they shift these players on defense with every new hitter, I think Kemp can be average in left, if he has the motivation to be better, like I think he does.

      I understand if you just don’t care for the guy, but I don’t think you are like that, because you never say anything personal about any player, and you don’t like it when someone does, because you try to be fair.

    2. Badger

      Texas is not an ideal place for Kershaw to pitch at, especially with all the HRs he gave up last year.

      Both parks are hitters’ parks, so he would probably be smart to stay in LA, because his numbers will certainly go down, pitching in either of those parks.

      But what Kershaw said, sounds like something more what Darvish would say, and they seem to be close now.

      And you know they are both bonded together, because they both didn’t pitch as well, as they wanted to, in the World Series.

      It might have been better this year if Darvish took a chance on himself, and took a one year contract, hoping to pitch much better this year.

      Because he lost a lot of money, just from those two starts he made, in the World Series.

      In the Times, when they had that article about Darvish and Kershaw throwing everyday, and about Kershaw possible opting out, and going to Texas.

      There were tons of negative posts from Dodger fans, about Kershaw, after that article.

      That is why I am hoping Buehler can make the next step this year, because we do need another top pitcher, and number ones don’t come around, that often.

      And I know Buehler will take a while to pitch like a number one, if he ever gets there.

      And why waste his innings in AAA?

      What Buehler did in the majors last year, should not be surprising, because the first year these TJ Surgery guys come back, they usually don’t have very good control of their pitches, like you said.

      Buehler should have better command this year, where ever he pitches.

      And he was not pitching in relief in AAA, so that was another adjustment he had to make at the major league level, last year.

      Because from what people said, Buehler’s main issue last year, was not having good command of his pitches, and that is why he was hit.

      But you know I agree with you, when a player is asking for, and getting that type of money like Kershaw is, it is only fair to expect much more from them, because they sure will make there case, every time there is an opt out!

      It can’t only go one way, like these opt outs do, for a player.

  9. Despite what Bluto or any other Dodger fan thinks, Matt Kemp can hit. Is he as good as he once was? No. But the guy is a .285 career hitter with 259 HR’s and 920 RBI’s. His OBP is .338. He is also a career 20.5 WAR player. You show me a single position player on the Dodgers with those kinds of numbers. Turner is a 19.6 WAR player, is the same age as Kemp and does not come close to having his numbers. Gonzo was the only player with a better career WAR and stats than Kemp. So him hitting is not the problem at all. It is of course, his diminished skills in the field. And that is where everyone has concerns. Matt would probably be better served in the AL where he could DH. This is why I wish they would level the playing field and the NL adopt finally the DH. Over the last 3 seasons Kemp has hit 77 HR’s and driven in 272. He is a proven run producer. He would do nothing other than make the offense better, and when he gets hot, he can carry a team. Cody Bellinger would have better numbers with someone like Matt hitting behind him. A little harder to get past Kemp than Grandal. But it is all probably a moot point since FAZ is trying to trade Kemp. We may never know what he could do to help this team. But I hope we get a little glimpse of Matt in spring training just for old times sake.

    1. MJ and Michael,

      I don’t care about Kemp in a positive light, I don’t care about Kemp in a negative light. I don’t care if he wants to DH. I don’t care or know if Kemp can hit or not. I don’t care if he plays left field well, and I don’t care if he runs well or runs poorly.

      All I’m saying is EVERY reporter says the Dodgers will dump Kemp as soon as they find a taker. There are no takers (because he (to rehash an old point) has ZERO value.)

      1. Well, again Bluto, you say that as if it were fact. Obviously he had some value to us or we wouldn’t have traded for him.

        19 home runs and 64 rbi’s in 115 games has value if you extend it to 154 games as a DH. 26 home runs and 86 RBIs for $10 million? If you look at his fangraphs projections, over 154 games he is projected to hit 40 home runs and drive in over 80. Not to mention having a star like Matt Kemp in the Tampa lineup might sell a few tickets. No value? Show some vision man.

        1. If you are traded for assets of negligible or zero value.

          That’s your value.

          I say zero, negligible may be more accurate.

  10. MJ, I just got an email suggesting Darvish sign a one year at $10 million with options for 3 more at $30, resulting of course in 4 for $100. If he really prefers LA that could work for him, but he can probably do better money wise somewhere else.

    Michael, I agree with you about Kemp. He’s apparently “in shape”, which begs the question why he wasn’t the last few years. Stay thin and your hamstrings won’t be challenged nearly as much. He can hit. And if he’s carrying less weight he can be average in left field if he’s willing to work at it. He could be another Manny in that he really doesn’t care about defense. If that is the case, work a deal with Tampa.

    1. I think he simply got a little lazy. That’s why he put on weight. Look how hard the Dodgers went after Puig about his weight. I think Matt might have gotten tired of all the references to him being out of shape and really committed himself to getting better. He does not make many errors, his problem the last couple of years has been his routes and getting to balls in the gap. His Fielding percentage is not all that bad. But I think they should give him a look in spring if he is not sold or traded…..but I do not see them just releasing him and eating 43 million.

    2. Badger

      The first thing I think when I hear a one year contact for ten million dollars, for a pitcher, it reminds me of another pitcher, but I believe he got even more then just 10 million for a year, of course I am thinking of Anderson.

      But since there won’t be many good starting pitchers available in the next three years, I think Darvish would be better to bet on himself for one year, and I think he could at least double that ten million for one year, if he was betting on himself, because teams are always more afraid of, the extra years.

      Because right now, because of his collapse in the World Series, he isn’t going to get what he probably wants.

      I am sure the Astros, the Cubs, and the Yankees, would be pursuing him even more, and offering him more money, and one more year, then he has been offered, if he would have came off a good season.

      And if he pitched well enough in the World Series, instead of looking like he just could not handle the pressure, because he couldn’t throw his pitches, like he normally could.

      But you were right, even if Darvish couldn’t throw his sliders like he wanted too, he still has a good fastball, and other pitches, he could have pitched with.

      Because at times, every major league starter has to pitch when they don’t have their best stuff, and Darvish has a better fastball, then Kershaw does, when it comes to velocity.

      And Darvish’s fastball, has a lot of movement on it too, so it is a shame he doesn’t realize he could dominate by just throwing a high fastball, above the letters, much like Verlander did.

      But because he isn’t, he may have to take what the Twins are willing to pay him, but I personally, would never want to play in Minnesota, because of the weather, and you just never know with the Twins.

      I agree with Michael about Kemp too obviously.

      And even if Kemp is not the hitter he was, he would still be the best bat in our outfield, and I am not so sure he has lost that much, when it comes to hitting.

      And if Turner Ward could break Puig from falling for those sliders, just off the outside corner, he can do the same with Kemp too, and that was Kemp’s biggest weakness.

      Last year, we never thought Taylor, or Cody, would make a difference with the team, like they did.

      And Kemp might be the same surprise, if they are willing to give him a chance, and they are going to have to play him, if they want to trade him, so he will probably be showcased, at least in spring training.

      But I wouldn’t bet on a trade, with the way things are going in Baseball right now.

  11. Bluto, your logic is flawed, and there have been teams inquiring about him. It will all boil down to money. If you honestly believe the Dodgers are just going to up and EAT 43 million dollars, you are insane. They will find some way to either to trade him or they will actually give the guy a chance in spring training. Dodger Blue reported this morning that the Dodgers are going to give Kemp a serious shot during spring if he is not traded. And since you do not work in the FO, you have no clue as to Kemp’s value. The guy is 2 years younger than A-Gone was. He can hit. Better than some of the slugs we have on the roster right now. Regardless of what you think he has value to the team.

    1. I can see the point you are making. I also have never read nor heard of Dodger Blue.

      I’m basing my statement on beat reporters. Just my thing.

          1. I didn’t read much new there. Kemp is in shape. He has friends on the team.

            If Ward can help him cut down on strikeouts, and he can if Kemp will listen, then he’s in the mix. I guarantee you he will draw a crowd at batting practice. And I would believe Roberts before I believe someone who says Kemp has “no value”. Home runs and rbi’s have value.

          2. Believe who you want. It’s still a free country, the reporting that the Dodgers have tried to add prospects to entice someone to take Kemp (and failed!) speaks volumes.

  12. Free country huh? Debate for another time.

    Like I said, I believe Roberts. And honestly, what choice is there in January? Kemp is a Dodger. Obviously he can still hit. 30 pounds overweight, injured and playing for teams going nowhere he hit 54 home runs and drove in 172. He’s a right handed left field thumper on a team that has been looking for one since Manny left. Why not see what he has left?He may be inspired. Clearly you’re not, but I say let him earn the job. We can give up on him later if necessary.

    1. i totally get the argument why to give him a shot.

      Just as I totally get the argument why not to take the chance on him being a poor clubhouse presence and blocking/delaying the chance to properly evaluate Verdugo/Toles/Pederson.

      I’m simply saying based on everything I’ve read and observed in trades. The team isn’t really high on bringing Kemp into the clubhouse, and his value on the open market is negligible.

      1. That sounds reasonable. I think he still has something to offer but with so many left fielders some moves are in order. Verdugo is ready, Pederson and Toles expect to play, as does Hernandez, and Thompson is still listed on the depth chart. Something has to give.

        As for what he might do to the clubhouse, I would expect him to be humble about where he finds himself. If he’s any problem at all the team will just cut him. He knows it.

        It’s going to be interesting. I might drive down there just to watch him take batting practice. It was sure worth it the last time I saw him there.

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