Employing Hriniak’s unique front-foot hitting style that included finishing swings with one hand on the bat, Thomas finished an 18-year career with 521 home runs, 1,701 RBIs, a .301 career batting average and a .419 on-base percentage. He was a contact hitter trapped inside a slugger’s body with one of his generation’s most discerning eyes at the plate (1,667 walks).
“This isn’t any BS,” said Hriniak, Thomas’ personal hitting guru who was the Sox hitting coach from 1989-95. “People ask me who was the greatest hitter I ever saw and I said if you needed a base hit, Wade Boggs, but as far as the best all-around hitter, it was Frank Thomas, hands down. He could win a game with a single down the right-field line or home run to left.”
Hriniak just laughed when asked if he ever tried to talk Thomas out of his unusual ritual of swinging a 3-foot, 5-pound piece of rebar — a steel rod that reinforces concrete — in the on-deck circle. He knew better.
“Never,” Hriniak said. …