Not all 30-30 seasons are created equal

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For most of baseball history hitting 30 homers and stealing 30 bases in the same season was a pretty big deal.
From the beginning of time through 1982 the only players in the 30-30 club were Ken Williams (the 1920s outfielder, not the current White Sox general manager), Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Bobby Bonds, and Tommy Harper.
Beginning in 1983 the club started to expand rapidly, adding Dale Murphy, Darryl Strawberry, Eric Davis, Howard Johnson, Joe Carter, Jose Canseco, Barry Bonds, Ron Gant, and Sammy Sosa during the next decade.
And since the players returned from their strike in 1995, at least one player has joined the 30-30 club every year for an influx of 21 new members and 31 total 30-30 campaigns in 15 seasons.
Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler became the club’s newest member Friday with the 54th 30-30 season in baseball history, and it’s also one of the least impressive 30-30 campaigns. Kinsler’s current .250 batting average would be the lowest by any 30-30 player, his .323 on-base percentage would be the fourth-lowest, and his .480 slugging percentage would be the ninth-lowest.
Here are the best and worst adjusted OPS+ totals from a 30-30 season:

BEST              YEAR     OPS+         WORST             YEAR     OPS+
Barry Bonds       1992     205          Joe Carter        1987     104
Barry Bonds       1996     188          Brandon Phillips  2007     105
Hank Aaron        1963     179          Raul Mondesi      1999     108
Larry Walker      1997     178          Alfonso Soriano   2005     109
Willie Mays       1957     174          Preston Wilson    2000     109
Barry Bonds       1997     170          IAN KINSLER       2009     110
Barry Bonds       1990     170          Sammy Sosa        1993     111
Jose Canseco      1988     170          Dante Bichette    1996     112
Howard Johnson    1989     169          Shawn Green       1998     116
Barry Bonds       1995     168          Jimmy Rollins     2007     118



This Bonds guy must have been pretty good, huh? Actually, of the 54 instances of a 30-30 season Barry and his father Bobby account for 10 of them. Anyway …
In terms of offensive production Kinsler is having one of the worst 30-30 seasons of all time, but a 110 adjusted OPS+ is better than it looks coming from a middle infielder. On the other hand, Carter’s adjusted OPS+ of 104 in 1987 is the lowest by any 30-30 player and he split time between first base and left field. That season the average adjusted OPS+ was 125 at first base and 112 in left field, so Carter was actually a significantly below-average hitter for his positions.

Magic Johnson says the Dodgers will win the World Series

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Baseball, as we so often note around here, is unpredictable. Especially when it comes to the playoffs. You can be the best team in the land for six months but a few bad days can end your season once October hits.

In 2001 the Seattle Mariners won 116 games in the regular season but lost the ALCS to the Yankees, four games to one. In 1906 the Cubs won 116 games in a 152-game season and lost the World Series. In 1954 the Indians won 111 games in a 154-game season and lost the World Series. In 1931 the Philadelphia A’s won 107 games and lost the World Series.

More recently, with the advent of expanded playoffs, the chances for the team with the best record to win the World Series have been pretty dang terrible. Since the beginning of the wild card era, only five times has the team with the game’s best record gone on to win the World Series: The 1998 and 2009 Yankees, the 2007 and 2013 Red Sox and the 2016 Cubs. That’s it.

At the moment, the Los Angeles Dodgers have baseball’s best record. They’re 71-31 and sit 12 games up in their division. Their playoff chances are almost 100%. The above examples notwithstanding, if you had to make a prediction as to who might win the World Series, it would not be unreasonable to pick the Dodgers. Sure, you’d want to make sure they got Clayton Kershaw back by early September or thereabouts to make it a safer prediction, but it’d be a totally defensible pick. Maybe even the one most people make.

But it’d be the utmost in magical thinking to presume that one could make such a prediction with any degree of certainty, right? The Los Angeles Times, however, passes along some Magical thinking:

Magic Johnson called his shot Thursday night, and he wasn’t shy about it. The Dodgers’ co-owner did not hesitate when he predicted how the team would finish this year.

“The Dodgers are going to win the World Series this year,” Johnson said. “This is our year.”

The headline calls it a “guarantee.” I don’t know if I’d call it that — I think it’s more of a confident prediction — but it is a bold statement whatever you call it.

If I had to pick one team at the moment — and we could assume a healthy Clayton Kershaw — I suppose I would make them my World Series favorites too. And, yes, if I had an ownership interest in the Dodgers, I’d probably say what Johnson said.

But given the example of history, I think “field” would be a much safer bet.

Mariners trade Steve Cishek to the Rays for swingman Erasmo Ramirez.

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The Tampa Bay Rays have acquired reliever Steve Cishek from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for reliever Erasmo Ramirez.

Cishek had appeared in 23 games this season for Seattle after recovering from major offseason hip surgery. He’s 1-1 with a 3.15 ERA, with a 15/7 K/BB ratio in 20 innings. He’s a setup man right now, but he has experience as a closer, saving 25 games for Seattle last year and as many as 39 back when he pitched for the Marlins in 2014.

Ramirez has appeared in 26 games for the Rays and has started eight games. He’s 4-3 with a 4.80 ERA and a 55/16 K/BB ratio in 69.1 innings. This will be his second stint with the Mariners, having played for them from 2012-14.

Sort of a surprising deal given that both Tampa Bay and Seattle are competing for a wild card spot, but needs are needs.