For all sports fans, Klay Thompson is a household name. The “Splash Brother” has helped the Golden State Warriors win four NBA Championships, has been named an All Star five times, is regarded as one of the best three-point shooters of all time, and will likely be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame when it’s all said and done. However, he’s not the only Thompson dominating in professional sports as his younger brother, Trayce, is having his best professional baseball season.
Thompson, a second round pick by the Chicago White Sox back in 2009, has had quite the journeyman career. After spending seven seasons in Chicago’s minor league system, Thompson finally made his MLB debut in 2015 with the White Sox. Thompson played really well in his first 44 games of big league action as he hit .295/.363/.533 (146 wRC+), but was traded following the season.
After getting shipped to the Dodgers as part of the three team trade that most notably sent Todd Frazier to the White Sox. Thompson made the Dodgers’ opening day roster in 2016 and hit a respectable .225/.302/.436 (100 wRC+) across 80 games before missing the rest of the season with a back injury. Thompson started the 2017 season in AAA, still appearing in 27 games with the Dodgers, but struggled mightily.
The Dodgers designated Thompson for assignment before the 2018 season, then he was claimed by the Yankees who designated him for assignment two days later, which is when the Oakland A’s claimed him off of waivers. Thompson’s stint in Oakland only lasted three games as he was again designated for assignment after going 1-7 at the plate. Thompson was then picked up by the team that drafted him back in 2009, the Chicago White Sox. Thompson wasn’t able to replicate the success he had in his first stint with the team as he hit a horrific .116/.163/.215 (-4 wRC+) in 48 games.
Following the 2018 season, Thompson elected free agency and signed a minor league deal with the Cleveland Indians. Thompson struggled in 89 games with Cleveland’s AAA affiliate prompting the organization to release him. Thompson didn’t sign with another team until the winter of 2020 when he signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks. However, the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the 2020 minor league season, so Thompson didn’t play in an affiliated game all year.
Thompson made his Diamondbacks organization debut in 2021, but he was quickly traded to the Chicago Cubs. Thompson spent the majority of his 2021 season in AAA but was fantastic at the plate with Cubs when given the opportunity as he hit .250/.400/.714 (186 wRC+) in 15 games.
Thompson’s 2022 season started in the San Diego Padres organization and he did appear in six games with the major league team, but he was quickly designated for assignment. Soon after getting released, Thompson signed a minor league deal with the Detroit Tigers. Thompson never made it to the Majors with the Tigers, but after Mookie Betts got injured, the Dodgers came calling and Thompson was immediately brought onto their 26-man roster in exchange for cash considerations.
With the Dodgers, Thompson has played the best baseball of his career as he’s excelled at the plate, in the field, and on the bases. Thompson’s 151 wRC+ since June 21st (when Thompson made his 2022 Dodgers debut) is the eighth best among all Major League outfielders (min 150 ABs), 2.8 BsR is the fifth best, and his 2.4 fWAR is the tenth best. Additionally, Thompson has been an elite defender accumulating 4 OAA making plays like the one below:
While Thompson’s 36.7 K% and .389 BABIP since returning to the Dodgers indicate that his offensive production likely isn’t sustainable, his production has been much more valuable than the cash considerations the Dodgers traded for him. Anything more Thompson gives them is a bonus.
Even if his bat starts cooling down and his 101 rest of season projected wRC+ by Steamer is accurate, Thompson will still be a valuable piece for the Dodgers on their quest to win the franchise’s eighth World Series. At the bare minimum, Thompson is a valuable pinch runner and defensive replacement, but at his peak, he is additionally a weapon in the batter’s box.
From career journeyman to a key contributor on a team in pursuit of winning the World Series, Trayce Thompson is having a memorable 2022 season.