Marcus Thames has been absolutely hammering the ball ever since he joined the Detroit Tigers Organization. Hell, he homered off Randy Johnson on the first Major League pitch he ever faced, as a member of the Yankees in 2002. Unfortunately, much of his power has been wasted either in AAA ball or sitting on the bench, watching lesser players standing in the batters box in his stead.
Take a look at Thames' numbers from last year. In only 348 at-bats, he hit 26 home runs and slugged an impressive .549. Had he gotten enough at-bats, Thames would have finished 10th in the American League in slugging percentage, ahead of such superstars as Alex Rodriguez, Miguel Tejada, and Frank Thomas. He hit a home run every 13.4 at-bats, which would have placed him 8th in the AL, ahead of A-Rod, Paul Konerko, and Vlad Guerrero. Give this guy a full season in the lineup, and he puts up Frank Thomas, circa 2006 numbers. Last season, Thomas finished 4th in the AL MVP voting.
This year, with Thames' DH spot being taken over by Gary Sheffield, he has gotten only 7 plate appearances in one start in left field and one start at first base. Meanwhile, Sean Casey continues to be the Tigers' everyday first baseman. The same Sean Casey who slugged only .364 in his 53 games with Detroit last season, after being acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates before the trade deadline. Casey thrived in hitters havens like PNC Park in Pittsburgh and the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, but he has struggled since moving to cavernous Comerica Park. Casey's defense and baserunning are both subpar, thanks a bad hip that leaves him about as mobile as a Winnebago with a flat tire. Thames may not be a defensive stalwart or a stolen-base threat, but he still has more range than Casey.
First base is supposed to be a position for a big, strong power hitter. It is time the Tigers put that big, strong power hitter where he belongs.