No doubting Thomas' HR power

Frank Thomas did it the right way in the Steroid Era

Updated: July 11, 2011, 5:10 PM ET
By Melissa Isaacson |

[+] EnlargeFrank Thomas
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty ImagesFrank Thomas won two MVP awards with the White Sox.

Best home run hitter. Best.

So what does that mean exactly?

Sammy Sosa hit 545 as a Cub, the most in franchise history. He had three seasons of 60 or more. In his prime, no one was a bigger home run threat or more compelling than Sosa except perhaps Mark McGwire.

Uh, yeah. Two of the biggest frauds in sports history -- McGwire, admittedly so, and Sosa, who still hasn't come clean despite compelling evidence to the contrary.

And you're going to call him the best anything? Not me.

I could make an argument for Ernie Banks, who knocked out 512 (one per every 18.4 at-bats), but my vote still goes to Frank Thomas, who hit 448 in 16 seasons with the Sox (521 in all).

It is not simply because The Big Hurt slugged one per every 15.52 at-bats, though that's not too shabby. Nor is it because Thomas was -- as it turns out -- unfairly overshadowed in the steroid era.

Mostly it's because of his sheer dominance as a slugger, the fact that so many of his home runs were timely and so huge; because at 6-foot-5, 275 pounds, the former Auburn football player who finished among the top 10 in MVP voting every year from 1991-97 (winning twice) still scared people at age 39, when he hit three home runs in one game in September '07.

Was he the easiest guy in the world to get along with? Frank himself would tell you he could have handled relationships differently over the course of his career. But best home run hitter in Chicago? It certainly wasn't the guy with the corked bat and the fat neck.

Melissa Isaacson is a columnist for

Melissa Isaacson

Melissa Isaacson is a columnist for, ESPN Chicago and The award-winning writer has covered Chicago sports for most of her 31-year career, including at the Chicago Tribune before joining ESPN in 2009. Isaacson has also covered tennis since 1986.