ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

D-backs’ Alek Thomas found confidence with just 2 swings in 2023 playoffs

Mar 18, 2024, 3:40 PM

Alek Thomas, Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder...

Alek Thomas #5 of the Arizona Diamondbacks warms up before the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on March 31, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Alek Thomas’ 2023 playoff run was maybe not the most drastic among the many positive growth curves of Arizona Diamondbacks players.

But in terms of confidence, it was arguably the most impactful on an individual level.

His home run in Game 4 of the NLCS against the Philadelphia Phillies tied the game in the bottom of the eighth frame and ultimately helped push the playoff series to seven. Thomas told Arizona Sports’ Wolf & Luke on Monday that he legitimately uses that play as psychological ammunition in live moments, such as relatively unimportant at-bats this spring.

“I look at the home run against the Phillies all the time and just still get chills, some goosebumps on my arms from that moment,” he said Monday. “I relive it a lot. Even when I’m up there in the box again wherever in spring training, I picture that in my head. That’s just a great feeling and I want to have that again. It’s definitely helped, and I feel more comfortable in box.”

But it was Thomas’ first of four postseason home runs that had ignited a bit of confidence in him.

It came in Game 2 of the Wild Card series against the Milwaukee Brewers, after Thomas admittedly scuffled to begin his postseason experience.

“First playoff game that we played, I was super nervous,” Thomas said of a 6-3 Arizona win. “I struck out three times and I’m like, man, I don’t even know if I’m going to play tomorrow in the next playoff game. Sure enough, I’m in there again and we didn’t get a hit, or we were getting shut out, I hit a home run against their guy (starter Freddie Peralta) and got it started.

“I was like, alright, maybe I can do this. Throughout the whole playoffs, I felt better and more confident and hope that carries over.”

Thomas slashed .222/.271/.463 for the postseason with four homers, six RBIs and a .734 OPS.

It was a little bump from his .230/.273/.374 and .647 OPS in the regular season.

He’s not the only one hoping to parlay the playoff run to the 2024 season. Starting pitcher Brandon Pfaadt has a case for finding his stuff with a strong postseason run as a rookie, and catcher Gabriel Moreno rounded into form as a scary bat to complement a season-long of work behind the plate.

Still, Thomas’ step forward from offensive liability to timely bat could be just as important to Arizona’s plans in 2024 to build on a World Series appearance. And two swings might have changed things for him.

“I did it at at the highest stage. There should be no difference going into the season, having that confidence,” he said.

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