Thomas was the NL walk king at the turn of the century. His ability to foul off pitches endlessly in pursuit of a free pass led to the rule that fouls were strikes, but that change didn’t prevent him from leading the NL in walks in seven of his first nine seasons. He was a fast singles hitter (his highest slugging average was .365) who batted as high as .327 and hit .300 five times. His on-base average topped .400 each of his first seven seasons, and he led the NL in 1902 (.412) and 1903 (.450). Before the Phillies’ best players jumped to the AL, the leadoff hitter scored 100 runs his first three years, but after 1901 he topped 100 only once more (118 in 1905). He scored 1,011 runs in his career, but drove in only 299; when he led the league with 132 runs in 1900, he had 33 RBI.
Thomas’s speed enabled him to steal 244 bases in his career, with a high of 42 his first season. He also ranged widely in centerfield and led the NL three times in putouts, twice in total chances per game, and once each in fielding and assists. His .986 fielding average in 1906 tied the NL record of the time. At his retirement, he held career fielding records for centerfielders in putouts (NL) and fielding average (ML).