Putting skills in perspective

Eric Thames' path to the top of the home run leaderboard was a bit unorthodox, but not completely unexpected. John Fisher/Cal Sport Media/AP Images

Twenty years ago, I coined a simple aphorism: "Once a player displays a skill, he owns it." It came about from experiencing the 1996 breakout performance of Henry Rodriguez. After four nondescript seasons in the majors, Rodriguez exploded in 1997 by hitting 36 home runs, driving in 103 runs and batting .276 for the Montreal Expos.