If you hadn't heard of Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Eric Thames until this baseball season, you're probably not alone. Thames last appeared in the the MLB in 2012, and for the past few seasons, he has played in South Korea. But now, everybody in the baseball world knows who he is, because Thames can't stop hitting home runs.
Thames is leading Major League Baseball in home runs this year by a significant margin. The 30-year-old has 11 dingers so far. Ten batters are tied for second place with seven each. He also has more homers against the Cincinnati Reds (8) than any other batter so far.
This is not the Thames of old. In 2012, he batted .232 and hot only nine home runs in 86 games. So what changed over in South Korea? Thames recently told Sportscenter that he changed his "meathead" ways and started focusing on stretching.
"I learned in Korea with the long stretching routines there, I'm a better player when I'm flexible and mobile. Before, I would just be a meathead. I'd be in the gym pressing and squatting and doing a million Pull-Ups with dumbbells hanging from my waist and so on and so forth, but I couldn't really translate that to the baseball field. I have four surgeries to prove that.
"I learned how to stretch, for an hour, an hour and a half, two hours every day, especially as the season goes on. I just started to learn that I have to be mobile, I have to be able to move to be able to be a good athlete, and it's paid off."
Eric Thames has hit 10 homers and it's only April. He comes through on #TheSix to talk critics & more. Watch here: https://t.co/oDxWnw2hYX pic.twitter.com/v56A72aTYs — SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 25, 2017
Besides stretching, Thames learned a new mental side of baseball.
"When I went over there, I started to read a lot more, study inner peace, meditate, really embrace the mental toughness training. I could focus on the process, and don't worry about the results," Thames told USA Today.
The 6-foot, 210-pound Thames started to develop his power at the plate during his stint in South Korea, hitting 124 home runs in three seasons. Now, he's batting .371 with a slugging percentage of .929 and 19 RBIs.
If he keeps this pace up, Thames is projected to hit 77 home runs this season, which would be an MLB record.
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