Introducing… Andre Thornton

Predominately a designated hitter, Thornton was a terrific power threat who always posted solid on-base percentages.  The heavy hitter owned a solid batting eye.  He would often draw 80+ walks a season which pushed his OBP near the .360 mark.  A two-time All-Star, Andre had three 30 homerun seasons and a pair of 100 RBI campaigns.  His 100 RBI seasons weren’t of the hollow variety–he achieved them with the second division Indians.  Thornton spent the bulk of his career in Cleveland and thus never played in a postseason game.

A big power-hitter from Tuskegee, Alabama, Andre was initially signed by the Phillies in 1967.  While a minor leaguer, Thornton as traded twice; first from the Phillies to the Braves and later from the Braves to the Cubs for Joe Pepitone.  Andre would make his Major League debut with Chicago in 1973.  He only got into 17 games for the Cubs that year but played regularly in ’74.  That year he hit ten homeruns with a solid .368 OBP.  Andre played more in 1975 and banged out 18 homers with an amazing .428 OBP.  This mark was good for fourth in the NL and he also established his personal best batting average with a .293 mark.

Thornton struggled mightily in 1976 and was traded to Montreal for Steve Renko and Larry Biittner.  Unable to get on track north of the border, the Expos shipped him off to the Indians in a deal that resulted in highway robbery.  Montreal received the forgettable Jackie Brown while Andre became a star for the Tribe.  Andre enjoyed a breakout season his first year with the Indians.  He clubbed 28 homeruns and set a personal high with a .527 slugging average as Cleveland’s everyday first baseman.  But Andre was just getting warmed up.  In 1978 he set personal highs with 97 runs scored and 33 homeruns (4th in the AL).  His 93 walks was also good for fourth in the league which pushed his OBP up to .377.

Still the Indians regular first baseman in 1979, Andre socked 26 homeruns and rove in 93 runs, but his career would be altered the next year.  Andre missed the entire 1980 season with a knee injury and when he came back his mobility was greatly diminished.  Never much of an acrobat before the injury, when he came back to Cleveland he was used strictly as a designated hitter.  As the Indians everyday DH in 1982, Thornton made his first All-Star team by finishing third in RBI with a career high 116.  He also set personal highs in walks (109) and base hits (161) while clubbing 32 dingers and pacing the league in intentional walks. 

Thornton raised his batting average to .281 in 1983 but his power numbers fell off.  He proved that he wasn’t done as a slugger the following year when he matched his single season high of 33 homers in ’84.  An All-Star again, Andre was one of the few gentlemen in the game to reach 90 runs scored and 90 RBI.  The big DH walked 91 times and whiffed just 79 times which gave him his sixth season with more walks than whiffs.  In the mid 1980s the Indians were the AL’s doormat and the aging Thornton was the heart of their lineup.  When he started to slip in 1985, Cleveland turned to younger players while Andre mentored them.  He hit 22 dingers in ’85 and 17 in 1986 but his batting average was only .229 in the latter campaign.  When he was unable to get going in 1987, Thornton called it a career.

THE NUMBERS

G 1,565/R 792/H 1,342/2B 244/3B 22/HR 253/RBI 895/SB 48/BB 876/SO 851/BA .254/OBP .360/SA .452

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