- Rating: 6.9
- 2023 stats: 129 G (50 in ARI), .256/.328/.774, 111 OPS+, 16 HR,
- Date of birth: March 8th, 1988
- 2023 earnings: $6 Million
- 2024 status: Free Agent
In the 2023 off-season, Tommy Pham signed a one-year, $6 Million contract with the New York Mets, who were expecting to compete for the NL East and ultimately the World Series. As we all know, that didn’t quite work out the way they were planning, but it was through no fault of Tommy Pham. He slashed .268/.472/.820 with a 124 ERA+ while playing in Queens, and when the deadline rolled around and the Mets were on the wrong side of it, several teams were looking to add his services to their teams.
Ultimately, the Diamondbacks won his services and he joined the playoff-bound Diamondbacks in exchange for Jeremy Rodriguez, who had been playing in the Dominican Summer League. The plan had been for Pham to shore up the questionable DH position. He struggled to get on base early, however, putting together a sub .300 OBP during the month of August, and struck out a ton, racking up 26 k’s in 103 PA. All was not lost, however, as he did provide value despite the struggles, hitting 10 extra base hits, including three home runs, and 17 RBI.
When the calendar turned to September, he turned it around for a blazing hot two weeks. In fourteen games from 9/1-9/15, his OBP was .350, batting average jumped to .291, and he hit another three home runs in half the time . That stretch was key to keeping the Diamondbacks in the Wild Card hunt, especially as he, and the rest of the team, went into a slump in the final two weeks of the season. The 16th through the end of the season, Pham only hit .178, and only got three total hits in his last eight games, none of which were for extra bases.
So like the rest of the team, he limped into the post season, but also like the rest of the team, he played much better in October. In another sixteen game sample, the OBP was still lower than one would have liked to see, again sub .300, but he hit .279, another three home runs, and recorded two four hit games. The playoffs capped off a good season for Pham, and sent him to free agency on a good note.
Normally, that would be the end of a review, but with Pham, the on-field value is only a fraction what he provided to the young Diamondbacks. His biggest contribution by far, according to the rest of the team, was the Veteran Presence he brought to the clubhouse. Now, that is frequently a concept that gets mocked in online circles, including by myself, but more than any other time, I think it applies to Pham more than any player since... Tony Clark?
Which is surprising, as Pham came to the Diamondbacks with a reputation of being a negative in the clubhouse. We all know the stories of him slapping Joc Pederson, and getting stabbed at a club in San Diego, and frankly, that was all I really knew about him coming into the trade. Definitely made some assumptions based off those two incidents, like many people, and like many people I was wrong. Pham came in to a team that was floundering and helped reset the standard for work ethic, accountability and teamwork that had gotten the team to the heights they had previously reached.
This is a player who, as his previous manager noted, was loved by all of his former teams that the Mets played this season. Who gave up a chance to get a fifth hit in a World Series game so Jace Peterson could get a chance to say that he appeared in one. But also, he publicly called the Mets position players the least hard working group he’s ever played with. He is a no nonsense hard worker who sets the example of what he expects for those around him. And that was something that seemed to be hugely beneficial to a team as unexperienced as the Diamondbacks were.
This is probably the end of the road for Tommy Pham and the Diamondbacks. He is reportedly looking for a team where he can get more time in the field than the Diamondbacks gave him last season, and with a true DH being one of the last things on the wish list for Arizona, they probably just don’t match up at this point. However, he made a mark on this team, both on and off the field, and that should be remembered when we think about the surprising 2023 season.