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Tommy Pham As Intense As Ever, But In A More Productive Way

Tommy Pham waits for the mound visit to end
SNY

I'm sorry to keep Metsing up the joint, but Tommy Pham has been a rare bright spot for the club even as they stub their toe night after night in their months-long quest to find the light switch in a pitch-black room. The veteran left fielder was acquired by the team on a one-year deal worth just $6 million after a season that was only remarkable because of his (and Mike Trout's) fantasy football league. Pham hit .236 with a .686 OPS across the Reds and Red Sox at age 34, but he made headlines when a beef with the Giants' Joc Pederson over a group chat GIF and the legality of putting players on IR led to Pham slapping Pederson on the field before a game and catching a suspension. It was one of the dumbest and best stories of the baseball season, and even after Pham did his time it felt like nobody would let it go.

And that was not by any means some one-off example of Pham's intensity. In April, before he threatened to release the IR rules, Pham wanted a fight with the Padres' Luke Voit after a slide into the Reds catcher that Pham called "dirty as fuck."

This season, however, the list of people Pham has a problem with includes all opposing pitchers. For the first couple months of the Mets' year, Pham was a circumstantial player, featuring most heavily in games and portions of games that aligned with his splits last year: a .653 OPS against right-handers and .784 against lefties. Per The Athletic, however, Pham got fired up by a meeting a little over a month ago with manager Buck Showalter, who, when explaining how playing time would be divided up after the arrival of Mark Vientos from Triple A, showed Pham lineup suggestions from the analytics department that iced him out when a righty was starting.

“You don’t get the career that I’ve had by only hitting lefties. So, now, I am trying to prove a fucking point,” Pham said.

And he's succeeding. Against righties this year, Pham is hitting for less power but getting on base slightly more often than he is against lefties, for an overall OPS difference of just .040. And in June, specifically, he's crushing the ball like it just put Jeff Wilson on injured reserve. The Mets are a tragic 7-16 this month, but it's not his fault. Pham is slashing .321/.365/.603 as he takes smart swings and makes powerful contact at the plate. Baseball data dude Jon Anderson pointed this out ahead of the Mets' game against the Brewers on Wednesday night.

But when he added, light-heartedly, an addendum about Pham following him, the Mets' starter came out of left field to leave absolutely no doubt about Anderson's place beneath him.

The sudden rudeness carried over to Milwaukee's starting pitcher, Wade Miley. In their first meeting, in the bottom of the second, Pham saw a high fastball and made it go even higher, launching a dinger into the seats behind his defensive position.

The individual success continued all night, but regardless of anything that's going on around him, Tommy Pham absolutely cannot relax. In his final at-bat, in either a show of stubbornness, intimidation, or baseball superstition, he would not go at ease, leave the batter's box, or take his eye off the pitcher's mound even as Joel Payamps got looked at for a possible injury.

Pham would go on to slap a single into right and then steal a base that really didn't need to be stolen in this particular situation. He finished 3-for-3 with a walk, and the Mets lost 5-2 to fall to 17 games back of a Braves team they tied with for the division in 2022.

I want to make absolutely clear that I am not pals, allies, or even acquaintances with Tommy Pham. I do not think I am big time. In fact, I ain't shit, and I remember that. But I just want to say that he is playing good baseball right now, even if the other guys in his uniform aren't.

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