Braves Journal is starting a new series to entertain the masses, and our first up in the series “Braves One Year Wonder” is Charles Thomas…who is actually younger than I am and that makes me feel old.
Drafted by the Braves in the 19th round of the 2000 draft, Thomas was a 21 y/o prep player out of Western Carolina. He wasn’t particularly a standout in any skillset, rather a guy that could contribute a little bit in all facets of the game.
Mark Derosa, Dewayne Wise, and Chipper Jones Play the Shuffle
If you don’t recall 2004, let me refresh your memory. On December 13th of 2003, the Braves pulled off one of the more polarizing trades in its history, trading for J.D. Drew (and Eli Marrero) and sending rookie prospect Adam Wainwright (and others, but who cares?) to the Cardinals. The plan going into the season was for Chipper to continue roaming left field as he’d done the previous 2 years (damn you, Vinny Castilla), leaving Drew in RF and Andruw Jones in CF. Oh yeah…and Mark Derosa was going to be the starting 3B.
It didn’t work.
Derosa was horrid as a full-time 3B, both offensively and defensively, and on June 15th, he lost his everyday gig to, you guessed it, Chipper Jones. The first player to get the LF gig was the tagalong in the Drew/Wainwright trade, and that was catcher/utility player 2nd Eli Marrero.
The Sideshow of One Year Wonder Eli Marrero
The week prior, Marrero got a good look in LF as the Braves hit Chipper at DH while battling it out in interleague play. As Bobby Cox was known to do, Eli got hot and Cox continued to play the hot hand. Luckily for the Braves, Eli Marrero didn’t get cold again until 2005, but it wasn’t in a Braves uniform as he was traded in the offseason for a flamethrowing reliever, of which the flame burned out, so he was reduced to throwing reliever, then he couldn’t do that, so he was relieved of all 3 descriptives, and just became Jorge Vasquez, the man that used to be a flamethrowing reliever.
On June 23rd, backup OFer Dewayne Wise (how did he have an 11 year career?) was placed on the DL for wholly sucking and that’s when Charles Thomas made his MLB debut.
Here was Mac’s description on Thomas when he was given the call:
Thomas was leading the IL in hitting (as Nick Green was when he was called up) with a .358 average; he had a few walks, if not as much as you’d like (.416 OBP) and pretty decent doubles power (.535 SLG though only 4 homers).
Thomas is a lefthanded hitting and throwing outfielder, listed at 6-feet even, 190 pounds, and was so obscure coming into this season — even though he’d hit .324 last year in Greenville — that our bio doesn’t have a picture or comment on him. He didn’t make the Top 50 list either. (Props to Flo, who had him 29th.) He’s already 26, so his future isn’t all that bright, but he could be a fourth outfielder for some time and almost certainly would outhit Wise.Mac Thomason
One Year Wonder, Charles Thomas
This is just the absolute best. Charles Thomas was a mediocre Minor League Player that turned in a sensational 1/2 season of Major League baseball. When he got the call, the Braves were 32-37 and in the midst of an awful stretch of baseball. From then on, the Braves went 64-29, to finish with a 96-66 record.
Thomas caught fire from June 26th-July 29th, as he carried a 1.038 OPS in 87 PAs and the Braves went 21-6 in that span. Here are some more fun numbers and facts during Charles Thomas’s Summer of George:
- On July 10th, he single-handedly beat the Phillies 4-0, as he hit 2 HRs, driving in 3 and scoring another run independent of the homers.
- He had a streak of 8 games where he might’ve been the best player in baseball with a .464/.593/.816 slash line.
- Help Braves win 9 of 10 at the end of August, carrying a 1.197 OPS.
Charles Thomas, the Gift that Keeps on Giving
I’m sure much to his surprise, after breaking out in 2004 and helping the Braves capture their 13th straight division title, Charles Thomas was traded to the Oakland A’s for Tim Hudson. The A’s also received Juan Cruz and Dan Meyer in the deal. The 3 players combined for 2.2 fWAR for the rest of their careers while Tim Hudson put up 19.7 over 8 years for the Braves.
But don’t let that take anything away from you, Charles. While J.D. Drew’s remarkable 2004 was the biggest factor for winning the division, your month of beast baseball was the spark that ignited the turn! #Legend
Thanks for reading on One Year Wonder, Charles Thomas. If you enjoyed this piece, take a gander at a look back of the 1992 NLCS!