Eric Thames’s April Ranks Among the Greatest Single Month Performances in Brewers History
One month into the baseball season, the hot start of Brewers’ first baseman Eric Thames has been one of the sport’s biggest stories. With the possible exceptions of Paul Molitor’s 1987 hitting streak and CC Sabathia’s dominant final months of the 2008 season, Thames’s roaring start might be the most attention-grabbing short-term feat in franchise history. Thames batted .345 on the month with a league-leading 11 homers and a slugging percentage of .810.
But other Brewers’ batters have had similarly scorching calendar months without drawing the same kind of attention as Thames’s April. Looking back at the best months in team history, Thames is in some select company and, if this history is any indicator, he can look forward to what should be a very production season.
Robin Yount was still just 19 years old when he opened the 1975 season with a sensational month of April that thrust the second-year shortstop into the national spotlight. Yount bolted out of the gate with a .386 batting average and a robust .649 slugging percentage that helped the Brewers to a surprising 9-7 start. He was named the AL player of the month for his efforts.
First baseman Cecil Cooper was even hotter in August 1980 when he rapped out 52 hits, including six homers, to register a .400 average on the month. Despite Cooper’s heroics, the Brewers sputtered to a 15-17 record that month and fell out of contention in the AL East. Cooper’s big month was a part of a very big season. He finished with a .352 batting average and finished fifth in the MVP voting.
Rockin’ Robin was even more dominant in July 1982, the midst of his first MVP campaign. In 27 games, Yount smacked eight homers, 11 doubles, and ran up a .414 batting average. His hot bat helped the Brewers to take possession of first place on the last day of the month, a position they would not relinquish for the remainder of the season.
Although his 39-game hitting streak is more often remembered, Paul Molitor was even more unstoppable in September 1989. With the Brewers lingering around .500 and out of the pennant race, Molly went absolutely berserk in the season’s final weeks. He recorded 16 multi-hit games, batting safely in all but two of his 25 September contests. Molitor batted a ridiculous .476 on the month while drilling 13 doubles and swiping seven bases. Molitor raised his season batting average by 33 points in September, eventually finishing with a .315 mark – good enough for sixth best in the AL.
In 2007, the Brewers found themselves as unlikely contenders in the NL Central, holding a part of first place for 121 days. Prince Fielder was a big part of the reason for their early-season surge. In May, he blasted 13 homers on his way to running up an other-wordly .755 slugging percentage. Rookie sensation Ryan Braun was nearly as good that June, batting .345 with 11 homers and 25 RBI. Although the Brewers eventually fell short of the playoffs, both Braun and Fielder turned in huge seasons and would return to form in 2008 to help the Crew clinch a Wild Card spot.
Thames’s April certainly holds its own against these fantastic month-long tears. Of course, only time will tell how his career as a Brewer stacks up against his fellow month-long sensations. Regardless, he has already earned himself a place in franchise history.