The Minnesota Twins bid a fond farewell to Jim Thome last night as they traded him to the Indians for a player to be named later. In moving to Cleveland, Thome returns to his original club and a place he called home for 12 seasons, until he was 32 years old. That last season in Cleveland he hit a career-high 52 homers, led the league in walks, slugging percent, and OPS, and played 148 games at first base. The circumstances under which he comes back are quite different, as he's now an aging 40-year old who often struggles to play DH on consecutive days. But one trait remains the same, even if it's not as prolific as it was then: the man can hit the ball a long way.
And that's why Twins fans, myself included, are sorry to see him go. It's even more disappointing because a big motivating factor in moving Thome was to give him a chance, albeit small in this case, to obtain a World Series ring, only casting more light on the unsuccessful season Minnesota has had. Cleveland, while far ahead of the Twins, is still 6 1/2 games back of Detroit in the Central, so Thome will likely once more fail to get a ring. Many people are assuming that this will be the end for Thome since he reached the 600 home run plateau, but perhaps he'll give it one more shot in 2012.
But what's certain is that Thome's time with the Twins has come to an end. In 178 games with Minnesota, Thome batted 578 times and slugged 37 homers, hitting one out every 12.92 at bats. His 2010 season marked the best AB/HR ratio for any Twins player ever with at least 200 plate appearances, as he went deep once every 11 at bats. He rejuvenated his power stroke--not that it was ever meager--upon joining the Twins and immediately became a fan favorite. His signature moment from the 2010 season, a walk-off homer against his former team and the Twins' current rival, the Chicago White Sox, was matched this year when he went deep twice in one game to gain inductance into the 600 home run club.
All in all, the nearly two seasons Jim Thome spent in Minneapolis were fantastic ones, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a Twins fan anywhere who would disagree. Thome's presence in the lineup will be missed, but we wish him the best of luck in Cleveland!