‘Hall Of Fame Debate’ – Harmon Killebrew VS Jim Thome

‘Hall Of Fame Debate’ – Harmon Killebrew VS Jim Thome

Ok guys, I promise that this week’s ‘Hall of Fame Debate’ will get us back on track after last week’s debacle.

This time around, we’re going to judge two players with very similar skill sets that played two era apart from one another – Harmon Killebrew & Jim Thome.

Both players are most known for their abilities to deliver the longball, and while Thome’s career number is higher than Killebrew’s there is enough in their stats to put the two into a head-to-head battle.

So, that is exactly what I’ll do.

First – the numbers:

Killebrew Thome
Seasons 22 22
Games 2,435 2,543
Hits 2,086 2,328
200 Hit Seasons 0 0
150-199 Hit Seasons 4 4
Batting Average 0.256 0.276
.300+ Seasons 1 3
Batting Titles 0 0
On-Base % 0.376 0.402
Walks Drawn 1559 1747
Strikeouts 1699 2548
Doubles 290 451
Triples 24 26
Home Runs 573 612
30-39 HR Seasons 2 6
40+ HR Seasons 8 6
Stolen Bases 19 19
Runs Scored 1,283 1,583
100-Run Seasons 2 8
RBI 1,584 1,699
100-RBI Seasons 9 9
All-Star 11 5
Gold Glove - 0
Silver Slugger - 1
ROY 0 0
MVP 1 0
Postseasons 3 10
WS Titles 0 0

The standouts (for me):

  1. Killebrew’s very low number of career hits versus games played
  2. Both players offered very low single season hit tallies
  3. Thome’s .402 on-base percentage
  4. Thome has 850 more strikeouts in 100 more games
  5. Thome’s doubles
  6. Killebrew’s low number of 30-39 HR Seasons
  7. Killebrew’s impressive run of 40-HR Seasons
  8. Thome scored a lot more runs
  9. Thome’s lack of All-Star selections
  10. Thome’s 10 postseason appearances

Wow, this one is going to be tough.  And it is even tougher when I witnessed the full career of one player and never saw the other player play in a single game.

This time around, I will have to let the numbers do the talking…

And for me, the numbers give a slight edge to Jim Thome.

When I examine the careers of these two players, it is obvious that each of them was in the lineup to offer offense.  And Jim Thome did that.  And he did it at a greater rate.  Thome scored 300 more runs than Killebrew and he also scored 100 or more runs in eight different seasons.  His home run tally was a little higher than that of Killebrew’s but for me it was the 12 seasons of 30+ over Killebrew’s 10 that stood out.  Thome also delivered a lot more doubles (which can speak to the ballparks he played in) and a much higher on-base percentage.

On the negative side, Thome struck out 850 more times than Killebrew – that is simply awful.  He was also selected as an All-Star just five times while Killebrew made the All-Star team eleven times in an era packed with elite players in the outfield.  Thome was never a ROY or MVP, but he did participate in ten postseasons while Killebrew just made 3.

Ultimately, I went with Thome for two reasons: Run scoring & On-Base percentage.

Killebrew.Thome

So, who gets your vote in the battle of ’500-HR Club’ members?

Cast your vote now!!

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13 responses to “‘Hall Of Fame Debate’ – Harmon Killebrew VS Jim Thome

  1. Both Killebrew and Thome are HOF worthy and it’s really close, but I’m going with Thome for this debate. His career OBP and OPS are amazing! Also not many guys have hit 600 legitimate home runs!

  2. Wow – I never woulda thought those guys were so similar. Yes, Thome has a ton more strike outs, and I want to give an edge to Killer bcuz I collect him…butI gotta Thome by a hair on this one.

    • Stealing Home- Thanks for the vote. Strikeouts is a huge indicator of plate discipline and is something that I look for in an ‘elite’ player. Personally, for me neither of these guys is that.

      Thome 3, Killebrew 0

  3. Numbers only, I would say Thome, however as you said two different eras. Since I too never witness Killebrew, I have to rely on those who have. His MVP finishes are better than Thome. Killebrew won one and top five three or so other times. This tells me he was consider one of the games top players and played such a large role for his team. His legend I think precedes him more than Thome’s will.

    • Charley- it’s hard to argue your logic about the MVP finishes. I would only say that with the advanced stats and measurements of Thome’s era versus Killebrew’s, players are judged quite differently.

      Thanks for the vote!

      Thome 3, Killebrew 1

      • I think one important thing to keep in mind is that MVP voters didn’t have so much access to watch all of the players before cable, ESPN and the internet. So voters must have really taken notice of Killebrew, for him to be top 5 in MVP voting 6 times. Once his team moved from Washington to Minnesota, I can’t imagine writers watched him as often.

      • Charley- Excellent points! The coverage that Killebrew got with no national attention due to the teams he played for must have been good since he got that much MVP consideration…

  4. I like the fact that Killebrew could play 1st 3rd & left field, and that he struck out less, but I reluctantly choose Thome because he hit a few more homers & drew a few more walks. What Killebrew did at his size was amazing. This was another tough debate Brian. Can’t wait for the next one.

  5. I think both of these guys are HOFrs however I have to go with Killer. He hit most of his homeruns in an era known for its excellent pitching (and higher pitching mound”. Also the fact that he managed to make 11 all star teams even while playing for a small market team shows how well he stacked up to the other players of his era.

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