Through the first month of 2017 Eric Thames clearly established himself as the best story in baseball. His past is well known by now. Thames was an extremely flawed big league hitter in 2011 and 2012, he spent 2013 in the minors and independent ball, and then played so well in Korea from 2014-16 that he earned the nickname "God".
Thames came back to the majors in 2017 after signing a three year, $16 million contract with the Brewers this off-season. Through his first 135 plate appearances the 30-year-old was hitting everything. He batted .327 with 13 homers during this stretch, looking like a legitimate MVP candidate. What was most impressive though was that Thames had clearly fixed his biggest flaw. In his first stint in the majors Thames swung at everything. In 2011 and 2012 he posted walk rates of 5.8% and 5.6%. In Korea he learned patience and so far in 2017 he has walked at a 15.8% rate.
However, he has struggled over his last 45 plate appearances, batting just .132 with no homers. I noticed I hadn't heard much about him lately (and my fantasy team was suffering because of it) so I looked into what might be going on.
After reviewing his game logs it became clear there was something going on after May 9th. Since then he has yet to homer, his average has plummeted, and he is striking out more. The silver lining is that he's also walking more, which makes me believe the adjustments he made in Korea were real.
Basically Thames was never going to keep up the pace he was on. However, it looked like he was going to hit enough to warrant all star consideration come July. He still might, but he's going to have to pick it back up. As for what's going on with him it appears to be injury related. He had hamstring tightness back in April followed by some strep throat in mid May that caused him to miss some games. Combine that with the fact that he's adjusting to playing in the major leagues every day for the first time in years, and it's conceivable to think he might be worn down. Let's not panic on our favorite Korean superstar just yet.