My Memories of Clete Thomas
My most distinct Clete Thomas-related memory is arguing with one of his cousins on Twitter. I actually don't know that he was Thomas's cousin, but the passion he brought to the pro-Clete side of things could only have come from a family member. They had different last names, so I'm going with cousin instead of brother. That's my process, the art of deduction.
Beyond my personal Clete history, Thomas was a "center fielder," a "hitter" and a "replacement" for Aaron Hicks and Darin Mastroianni. He must be an excellent AAA player too, as he's gotten a fair amount of MLB chances. I also remember that he hit a home run in his first game with the Twins, earning his place in the Twins' Inaccurate Perception Hall of Fame.
Let's see what else we can learn about Clete Thomas.
Thomas was drafted in the 6th round of the 2005 draft. He is eligible for free agency in 2018, so circle your calendars. Thomas attended A. Crawford Mosley High School, where their motto is "Being a Dolphin is a Lifestyle." I'm not kidding. It is a lifestyle. They have two mascots, "Rocky" and "Roxy" and I can't find any evidence to support that Thomas held either position.
Thomas was with the Tigers from 2005 to 2012. In 2008, he reached the Majors at age 24. He hit .284/.366/.405 in 40 games. Not bad! He played 102 games with the Tigers in 2009, hitting .240/.324/.385. Um, not terrible? After just three games with the Tigers in 2012, he was DFA'd and scooped up by the crafty Twins. He played just 12 games with the Twins in 2012, hit .143, and earned a Minor League deal for 2013 (for some reason).
Aaron Hicks got off to a slow start in 2013 and Thomas was hot at AAA. The Clete Thomas Bandwagon Project Experience was formed and he would eventually play a staggering 92 games for the Twins in 2013. He hit .214/.290/.307. He's with the Phillies now.
Thomas had a respectable walk rate in 2013. At 9.3%, he was over a full point better than the AL average (7.9%). Unfortunately, his 28.6% strikeout rate was over 8 points higher than the AL average (19.9%). Thomas finished the 2013 season with a 0.4 fWAR, but that's only because he was a terrible hitter. His fielding was actually quite good and his baserunning was fine. Silver linings.
His home run-to-fly ball ratio of 6% indicates that he may have been somewhat unlucky in 2013. If you correct for his bad luck, his batting line looks much more impressive - .487/.671/.981. Please double check my math for me.
Thomas is from Jacksonville, Florida, so you know he's wrestled 'gators. His Wikipedia entry is surprisingly long, but mostly just a list of things he's done as a baseball player. Bor-ring! His Wikipedia picture depicts him with a batting glove on his bottom hand. The one thing I liked about Thomas was his complete lack of batting gloves. I hope this was a poor photoshop done to defame his character.
Here are a few fun tidbits from his entry:
- He hit his first career walk-off home run off of Danys Baez on August 20, 1999. It was also his first career walk-off home run against anyone.
- While in the Minor Leagues, former Tigers' GM Dave Dombrowski referred to Thomas as "a prospect."
- Thomas made his very first major league putout against Joey Gathright.
I found an article about Thomas signing with the Phillies where Jim Leyland refers to Thomas as a "dirtbag." Apparently he means that in a nice way, but then why is he kneeing Thomas in the groin in the picture from the article?
Switching to Google images, I found some pictures that aren't creepy.
WHAT IS GOING ON?
WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE?
First off, when you search for Clete on eBay, there are only 144 results. That seems low. Most of the results are baseball cards, so that's no fun. The best listing I found was a youth small Twins Clete Thomas shirsey. My goodness. I hope that kid asked for that shirt because if he got it as a gift, I imagine he was disappointed. You know how your Grandmother kind of knows what you like but can't quite get it right? That's how kids end up with Clete Thomas shirseys.
Oh well, if you want one, it's just 12 bucks. It has no bottom seam. That seems like a metaphor, but I'm not sure.
Clete Thomas has one of those generic Facebook pages that just copies their Wikipedia entry. BUT! He also has a fan club that has 45 members. It's an open group if you want to join. I did. My membership is currently pending. Everyone in our group keeps referring to him as "my Tiger" which seems oddly possessive. Clete Thomas is truly a man of the people, so maybe he set up himself as an IPO or something. It's worth looking into.
It's not too hard to find some quality Clete Thomas on Twitter. Here's an odd one that must have some subtext that I am not aware of.
No mustard necessary for this guy #cletethomas #notahotdog pic.twitter.com/9Y7Sz4wWAT
— Cheryl Pursell (@CherylPursell) April 16, 2014
Apparently other players on the team are hot dogs?
#Twins are optioning Ben Revere to Triple-A Rochester to make room for Clete Thomas.
— Rhett Bollinger (@RhettBollinger) April 14, 2012
Yep, that happened just about two years ago. Seriously. They're teammates again (of sorts) and Revere's off to a slow start...
If anybody remembers Clete Thomas i'll love you forever
— Rod Allens Big Fella (@tyler_namie) April 14, 2014
Do you love me? If you don't, here's a tweet from Clete's biggest fan:
@RhettBollinger Clete Thomas pitching in 1996 Little League World Series for US South. pic.twitter.com/5CuLI3t98G
— Michael Scott (@MichaelScottHC) August 11, 2013
Good follow through! He's still got a great arm.
There are a lot of Clete Thomas highlights on YouTube, all posted illegally by a bunch of thieves. I have no idea why MLB isn't making these thieves take down these videos so they can post them at MLB.com and get all the traffic. It's baffling. It's to our benefit I suppose. I found better videos though.
Here's one of a Clete Thomas bases loaded walk that was filmed from the grassy knoll.
If you look closely, you can actually see a second walker. The second video is a walk-off sacrifice fly from MLB '09 The Show. Either this person didn't want to play the game long enough to get a better video or they don't understand the high standards that a YouTube posting implies. Either way, you are the winner:
I was hoping for some interviews, but no luck. If you have any, please post links.
My wife is sitting right here, let's ask her.
"Yeah, wasn't he really bad but better than Hicks?"
Tough crowd. Not inaccurate though. She also said something borderline offensive, but I have the right to censor. Call me "The Goodfather."
Verdict: Not adequately remembered
Swerve! I'm all about swerves lately. I was very hard on Clete Thomas last year and in this post. I want to apologize for everything. I took a lot of liberties, I made jokes, I made animations, but Clete Thomas is a fantastic baseball player. I say this without any hint of sarcasm. Clete Thomas has struggled in the Majors, but the fact that he reached the Majors is awesome.
He fully deserves any additional MLB games that he earns in the future. If he does reach the Majors, I may make more jokes. I may make more animations. I apologize for those too. If Clete Thomas and I played a game of 1-on-1 baseball, he'd smoke me. We'd have to figure out the rules on the fly, but he'd win. He filled in last season when the Twins needed him and I appreciate him for that.
Thank you, Clete. I'm sorry, Clete. Can I get you a beverage, Clete?
Hi there. Do you want to read about more potentially forgotten Twins? Here are a few more, free of charge.