Oakland A’s history: Appreciating Frank Thomas

OAKLAND, CA - August 13: Frank Thomas #35 of the Oakland Athletics bats during the game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at the Network Associates Coliseum in Oakland, California on August 13, 2006. The Athletics defeated the Devil Rays 3-1. (Photo by Don Smith/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - August 13: Frank Thomas #35 of the Oakland Athletics bats during the game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at the Network Associates Coliseum in Oakland, California on August 13, 2006. The Athletics defeated the Devil Rays 3-1. (Photo by Don Smith/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
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When one thinks of Frank Thomas, thoughts immediately turn to the Chicago White Sox. But for one year with the Oakland A’s, Thomas was a star again.

At the end of the 2005 season, it was time for the Chicago White Sox to move on from Frank Thomas. He had been an icon with the franchise, a great player and a future Hall of Famer, but his career appeared to be on the ropes. The end, if not at hand already, was coming.

However, the Oakland A’s, always on the lookout for a potential bargain, signed Thomas to a one year deal worth $500,000, with incentives that could push the bottom line higher. Little was expected from the once great slugger, as injuries had limited him to just 108 games over the previous two seasons. Thomas could still hit for power, with 30 homers in that action, but he just could not get on the field.

Those low expectations appeared to be optimistic. He started slowly as those injuries kept him out of the majority of spring training. Over his first 34 games, Thomas produced a .178/.300/.373 batting line, hitting seven homers, but doing little else.

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A return to his old stomping grounds broke Thomas out of his slumber. During the first game of a double header on May 22, Thomas went 3-5 with two solo homers in the A’s 5-4 loss in ten innings. Even though he was sidelined in the middle of June, Thomas reverted back to his old self, instead of just looking old and broken down.

When the 2006 season was over, Thomas put together a vintage performance. He produced a .270/.381/.545 batting line, hitting 39 homers and driving in 114 runs. That performance helped propel the A’s to the postseason, with Thomas finishing fourth in the AL MVP vote.

That performance was also lucrative for Thomas financially. He earned a two year deal from the Blue Jays worth $18.1 million. He was productive in his first season, but Toronto would release Thomas after 16 games the following year. He returned to Oakland for one final hurrah, but the A’s were unable to find that lightning in a bottle once more.

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Nothing was expected from Frank Thomas when he joined the Oakland A’s in 2006. As it turned out, that signing was one of the best moved of that offseason.

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