After breaking a home run drought Wednesday night, Eric Thames got yet another drug test.
In April, Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Eric Thames was a revelation, with 11 home runs and 1.276 OPS over 103 plate appearances. A correction was surely coming in May, and before back-to-back multi-hit games Tuesday and Wednesday this week he went 0-for-18 with eight strikeouts over his previous five games.
Thames broke a 15-game home run drought with a two-run tater off Mets’ starter Jacob deGrom Wednesday night. Even with a downturn in May his numbers are still quite good this year, with a .286/.422/.621 slash-line (1.043 OPS), 14 home runs and 28 RBI. Supposedly random drug testing has hit Thames quite a few times already in 2017, and he was reportedly tested again after Wednesday night’s game.
Thames appears have been tested at least six times now this year. But the overall randomness of it is offset some by increased testing for players on each team’s 40-man roster under MLB’s new collective bargaining agreement.
After spending the last three seasons in Korea Thames also fits into a category of players , as cited by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, “who reach agreement to return to a major league club after being out of affiliated baseball (majors of minors) or one calendar year of longer.” Baseball’s Joint Drug Agreement requires extensive mandatory follow-up testing for that group of players, as a likely nod to the potential for relaxed drug testing standards in foreign countries. So extra drug testing overall, plus extra testing for a subset of players Thames belongs to, and six tests in less than two months somehow seems plausible.
No matter how far we are removed from the “Steroid Era” in baseball, unexpected and seemingly inexplicable power spikes from players will invite skepticism. Right or wrong, Thames is the top guy in that category this year.