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.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Jorge Barrosa...

Alex Weiner

Diamondbacks’ Jorge Barrosa, Luis Frias land on injured list

Triple-A Reno placed Diamondbacks prospect Jorge Barrosa on the seven-day injured list with a hamstring strain.

6 hours ago

Jordan Montgomery...

Alex Weiner

Jordan Montgomery’s Diamondbacks debut goes well in win vs. Giants

Arizona Diamondbacks left-hander Jordan Montgomery was as advertised in his team debut Friday against the San Francisco Giants.

17 hours ago

Jordan Montgomery...

Arizona Sports

Jordan Montgomery up, Ryne Nelson sent to IL and Jace Peterson designated by D-backs

The Arizona Diamondbacks recalled starting lefty Jordan Montgomery to make his debut with the team Friday against the San Francisco Giants.

1 day ago

Arizona Diamondbacks' Christian Walker (53) is tagged out by San Francisco Giants first baseman LaM...

Associated Press

Diamondbacks’ bats go quiet in shutout loss to Giants

Diamondbacks hitters went three-up, three-down in seven innings on Thursday as they dropped the series opener to the Giants.

2 days ago

Ryne Nelson...

Arizona Sports

Ryne Nelson pulled after 2 innings with right elbow contusion

D-backs' Ryne Nelson exited a series-opening loss to the San Francisco Giants after a ball came back to hit his throwing arm.

2 days ago

Eugenio Suárez...

Alex Weiner

Diamondbacks drop messy getaway game to Cubs in avoidable series loss

The group of self-inflicted losses from the Diamondbacks early this season grew on Wednesday against the Cubs.

3 days ago

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