Ex-big leaguer Eric Thames voted MVP in S. Korean baseball

November 24, 2015
Eric Thames of the NC Dinos watches his solo home run against the Lotte Giants in Changwon, South Korea, on July 1, 2015. (Yonhap file photo)

Eric Thames of the NC Dinos watches his solo home run against the Lotte Giants in Changwon, South Korea, on July 1, 2015. (Yonhap file photo)

SEOUL (Yonhap) — Former major leaguer Eric Thames was voted the MVP of South Korean baseball on Tuesday.

Thames, the slugging first baseman of the NC Dinos, became just the third foreign player to win the top individual award in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO). Tyrone Woods of the OB Bears in 1998 and Danie Rios of the Doosan Bears in 2007 are the two other non-Koreans who’ve won the MVP.

Thames earned 50 votes from the media to edge out Park Byung-ho, also a premier slugger for the Nexen Heroes, with 44.

Thames, 29, became the first KBO player ever to enjoy a 40-40 season in 2015, after hitting 47 home runs and stealing 40 bases. He also won the batting title with a .381 average, while leading the league with a .497 on-base percentage and a .790 slugging percentage.

Thames was also first in the league with 130 runs scored, 94 extra-base hits and 42 doubles.

Park, the MVP in 2012 and 2013, finished second in the voting for the second straight year, despite leading the KBO with 53 home runs and 146 RBIs, a new single-season record. Park is also the first player to hit 50 or more home runs in back-to-back seasons and to lead the league in home runs and RBIs in four consecutive seasons.

Thames, a former seventh-round pick by the Toronto Blue Jays, joined the Dinos for the 2014 season and made an immediate impact with 37 home runs, 121 RBIs and a .343/.422/.688 line. He was even more dominant this year, posting video-game numbers across the board while missing just two games in the expanded 144-game season.

Thames helped the Dinos to their second straight postseason.

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