As most MLB fans know, Eric Thames signed with the World Champion Washington Nationals prior to the 2020 season. Many people might not know Thames began his playing career at West Valley College.
The Santa Clara native was an All-Coast, All-NorCal and All-State first baseman for the Vikings in 2006. He then played two years at Pepperdine, where he was the 2008 West Coast Conference MVP. Thames caught the attention of the New York Yankees while playing for the Waves and was selected by the Bronx Bombers in the 2007 MLB draft. Deciding to play another year at Pepperdine, Thames reentered the draft and was grabbed by the Toronto Blue Jays in the seventh round of the 2008 draft. He signed with the Jays and is now in his 13th MLB season.
Thames' pro career has taken him from Toronto to the Seattle Mariners, the Baltimore Orioles, the Houston Astros, the Milwaukee Brewers and finally the Nationals. Between Houston and Milwaukee, Thames played for the NC Dinos in the Korean KBO League. With the Dinos in 2015, he was the KBO Most Valuable Player, only the third foreign-born player to win the league's top award.
During his MLB career, Thames has 96 home runs, 235 RBI, 457 hits, 18 stolen bases and a .241/.467/.325 slash line (AVG/OBP/SLG). He had a career-best 31 homers (10th in the NL), 63 RBI and .247/.359/.518 slash line in 2017. In the 2019 NL Wild Card game, Thames led the Brewers with a homer, a double and an RBI in Milwaukee's heartbreaking 4-3 loss to the Nationals.
Current West Valley Head Coach Rick Wiens, who recruited Thames in 2005, said he was, "the best offensive player I've ever seen at the level. Every time he stepped into the box, he changed the game."