Frank Thomas built his Hall of Fame case in Chicago, but believes he cemented it in Oakland.
After 16 years with the White Sox, Thomas departed for Oakland in 2006. He combined to hit just 30 home runs in back-to-back injury-riddled seasons in 2004 and 2005, and had 448 home runs to his name. Had he faded away after leaving the White Sox, he still would've had a strong chance at the Hall of Fame given his status as one of the best hitters of the 1990s and lack of connections to PEDs.
But Thomas rebounded in 2006 with 39 home runs and a .926 OPS in 155 games -- vintage numbers for the Big Hurt. He finished fourth in AL MVP balloting, and had as many walks (81) as strikeouts.
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And that season, Thomas contended, put him over the top.
"It rejuvenated me," Thomas said on Wednesday. "That’s the first year I left Chicago, and I still had a lot to prove, going out there and being healthy again for the first time.
"The year that really got me into the Hall of Fame today was 2006, because I was counted out by a lot of people, and for me to go out there and put up another MVP season, it was incredible for everybody, and I enjoyed playing out there that year. The fan base out there, they rejuvenated me that year."
Thomas went on to sign a two-year deal with Toronto, where he hit his 500th career home run 2007. He was released by Toronto early into the 2008 season and signed back with Oakland, where finished out his 19-year career.