CLEVELAND, OHIO - JULY 08: Former Cleveland Indian Jim Thome throws out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the T-Mobile Home Run Derby at Progressive Field on July 08, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio.
(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Living MLB legend Jim Thome believes New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole will be the American League’s best player in 2020.

Jim Thome just hit career homer No. 613, as far as New York Yankees fans are concerned. In an appearance on the MLB Network, the Hall of Fame slugger made a rather bold prediction regarding Gerrit Cole’s 2020 season:

“I went pitcher (for) MVP,” Thome said of his Cole prediction. “That’s the impact he’s going to have in New York.”

The former infielder and DH went on to include a 2020 Cy Young in his forecast for the 29-year-old righty.

But Thome was just getting started. When asked for a guess at what Cole’s numbers will look like, some would say he went a little overboard.

According to Thome, Cole will give the Bombers around 23 wins and post a minuscule ERA of 2.00 or thereabouts.

Thome is right about at least one thing. That type of gaudy production is exactly what it would take for Cole to garner an MVP and Cy Young.

The Yankees made the biggest splash of the 2020 MLB offseason when they gave Cole a record-breaking $324 million over nine years. With money like that on the table, the Bombers are expecting at least a sniff of the dominance Thome prognosticated for Cole.

And such a performance isn’t unprecedented. Per Joel Reuter at Bleacher Report, 10 pitchers have grabbed MVP and Cy Young awards in the same year.

The most recent man to do so was Clayton Kershaw in 2014. The Los Angeles Dodgers southpaw was 21-3 with a 1.77 ERA that season.

Cole just missed on a Cy Young in 2019, after he posted a 20-5 record with a 2.50 ERA and 326 Ks. He finished second in the award voting to his Houston Astros teammate Justin Verlander.

Obviously, no rational Yankees fan wants to put an unbearable amount of pressure on the team’s new ace. But for $36 million a year, he’d better produce at least one major individual award and a couple of World Series rings.

Welcome to the joys of playing in the Bronx, Gerrit Cole.

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