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.
Frisco RoughRiders manager Joe Mikulik got his money’s worth last night. He was ejected after arguing an automatic double play on an enforcement of the slide rule, and he didn’t go gently into that goodnight.
Rather, he threw things, kicked things, threw things and then subsequently kicked those same things, gave overly-demonstrative slides and safe signs and basically went all Earl Weaver/Lou Piniella on everyone.
Double-A baseball is the best minor league because you tend to see more prospects there than you do at Triple-A. But it’s also the best because, when you’re a manager who is not quite a heartbeat away from getting your shot at the big leagues, you’re a little less uptight about things. Or at least Mikulik was. Or maybe he was more uptight. I don’t know. He just went with it, and going with it has its charms.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been 18 years since Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa captivated the nation with their epic chase of Roger Maris’ home run record. But it has been, and after years of reaction, counter-reaction and, of course, baseball’s reckoning with the performance-enhancing drugs which helped fuel the chase, it’s probably finally time to do our best to contextualize it historically.
Today one of my favorite news outlets does that with an oral history. All of the key figures weigh-in on it, from McGwire and Sosa to Bud Selig to Tony La Russa. Randy Johnson makes an appearance as well, reminding us that it wasn’t just the sluggers who had an amazing year in 1998. Indeed, his story, including his being traded to Houston and going on an amazing second-half run, has almost been lost to history.
This is bookmark material, my friends. For savoring later if you can’t read it now. And for revisiting at another time given the depths to the drama which justifies multiple readings. I’ll just warn you that there is some adult language in the story, but that’s to be expected given the passion the 1998 baseball season inspired.
UPDATE: Cabrera was removed from the game due to back spasms.
1:21PM: This is not good: Asdrubal Cabrera was removed from today’s game against the Nationals with an apparent injury.
It’s unclear what the injury was, as Cabrera had yet to even play in the game. Matt Reynolds came on to play shortstop in the bottom of the first inning, but Cabrera didn’t bat in the top of the first. It could be an illness. Or some freak occurrence.
We’ll update when we hear more.
There are apparently unwritten rules about manager replay challenges now
Last night’s Cardinals-Cubs game was a blowout, with the Cubs beating the Cards 12-3. Apparently, however, in the ninth inning of the game, Reynoldsburg, Ohio’s own Mike Matheny played the Cardinals infield in, which is a move you never see in a blowout. Why did he do that?
He hasn’t said yet, but Cubs manager Joe Maddon just spoke to the media before today’s game and he’s speculating that Matheny did it as a form of protest:
Maddon assumed the Cards played the infield in, in the 9th last night basically in response to him challenging play at first in blow out
God, I hope that’s true. I hope that manager replay challenges, which are already dumb enough inasmuch as they turn what should be an officiating correction device into a strategic tool, are now turning into another front in the Great Unwritten Rules Wars. I hope that we now have a bunch of people talking about how there’s a right way and a wrong way to use the replay system and that one can disrespect the other side if they do it the wrong way. The way the replay system has been implemented often resembles tragedy. Why not make it farce?
Oh well, I guess it beats throwing at someone for doing that wrong. And I guess it’s just a reminder that no matter what we do, baseball is always gonna give us an opportunity for petty bits of silliness.