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Straight A's: Grades for 2006 - Frank Thomas

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I'm going to do something a little different this offseason. I usually hand out final grades for the whole team at once, but this year we have up to 169 games to use to judge the boys. It was a special year, so it requires something a little deeper.

I'm going to kick off this individual final grade by giving a grade to Frank Thomas since it's the biggest no brainer in the group.

Thomas had a remarkable comeback season. He was unquestionably the comeback player of the year. He may not have the award to show for it, but we all know that he deserved it.

Let's look at the facts:

Frank Thomas played 137 games this year and all seven games in the playoffs. He had 466 ABs, the most ABs since 2003 in Chicago. Not surprisingly, he had his most successful offensive season since that same year. 39 home runs, 114 RBIs, 77 runs (impressive considering his inability to really let loose on the basepaths), .381 OBP, .545 slugging and a .270 average. Remember, this is a guy who started the year hitting .190 in the first month of the year.

He whacked the rust off to lead the A's to the postseason. Make no mistake, Thomas was the major reason the A's didn't crash and burn in September. The A's starting pitching was starting to struggle and Thomas WAS the A's offense. And even though Thomas didn't get a hit in the ALCS, the A's likely wouldn't have been there without him. They might not have made the postseason and the first round might've gone differently had Thomas not hit two home runs in the first game against Minnesota. We very well could've been talking about being postseason flops again had Game 1 in Minnesota gone differently.

So the bottom line is that Frank Thomas was unquestionably the A's MVP. I'm hoping that Billy Beane re-signs the Big Hurt so that we can see him get his 500th home run in Oakland. At the same time, we all need to realize that a 38-year-old with bad wheels could break down at any time. Let's face it, he's out of warranty, so I hope the A's don't break the bank to keep him.

Regardless, Thomas had the best offensive season by an A's player since maybe Tejada's 2002 MVP year. The only reason he doesn't get an A+ is because his bat went ice cold in the ALCS. Hey, even Frank can't be perfect all the time...

FINAL GRADE: A