2009: Marcus Thames finished his six season tour with Detroit with a .245 batting average and 99 home runs in 485 games. His best season came in 2006 when he hit .256 with 26 home runs and 60 RBI in 110 games, helping the Tigers to their first World Series appearance since 1984. Thames actually had a decent year in 2009, but a strained ribcage in August seemed to mess up his swing. If not for that bad month, Thames could have hit .270, something he has yet to accomplish in his career. He recovered late in the season, posting a .302 average and .395 on-base percentage during his final 20 games. The Tigers chose not to retain the outfielder, allowing him to enter free agency for the second time in his career.
2010: Out of all the non-roster invitees, Thames has the best chance to make the opening day roster because of his major league experience. If he’s used properly, he could be one of the better bench players the Yankees have had in recent years, and odds are that he will be used correctly by Joe Girardi, a fan of Baseball Prospectus. Here’s what BP had to say about the slugger prior to the 2009 season:
There’s value when he is used in the right spot – which for Thames is against fastball-reliant lefties, as pure 80 power on the 20-80 scouting scale is hard to find and almost worth making room for.
Unless he does horrible in spring training, Thames will make the club as a backup outfielder and pinch-hitter. He’ll split time with Brett Gardner and Randy Winn in left field, and could prevent Winn from reaching his full $2 million in incentives. Thames is not the greatest fielder, but his power can help any team. Thames could end up as one of the better signings this winter.