Boston Red Sox star Mookie Betts has topped both 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases for the first time in his career, joining exclusive company.
Welcome to the club, Mookie Betts. Slip on through the velvet rope into the VIP room. Only the best five-tool stars in baseball are allowed access into the exclusive 30/30 club. The superstar right fielder for the Boston Red Sox can now count himself among that elite group.
Betts stole his 30th base of the season during Wednesday afternoon’s game against the Baltimore Orioles, extending his career-high total. He set a new career-high with his 32nd home run in Monday’s win over the O’s. The combination of homers and steals puts Betts in the 30/30 club for the first time in his career.
Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez (38 home runs, 33 steals) is the only other major league hitter in the 30/30 club this season. These two will almost certainly be the only members in 2018, as no other hitter in the majors with 30+ steals has more than 19 home runs. Of the players with 30+ home runs this season, only Colorado’s Trevor Story has topped 25 steals. The young shortstop still needs four steals to join the club with only five games remaining.
Multiple players entering this territory in the same season masks how uncommon the achievement is. Ramirez and Betts are the first players to join the club since Mike Trout (30 home runs, 49 steals) and Ryan Braun (41 home runs, 30 steals) both did it in 2012.
Kinsler was a repeat addition, having blasted 31 homers to go with 31 steals in 2009. That concludes the list of 30/30 players over the last decade. Seven players accounting for nine instances of a 30/30 season in the last ten years.
Since 1990, only 30 players have reached 30 homers and steals in the same season. Barry Bonds practically had his own section of the club given his regular appearances in the 90’s – before his head grew three sizes to slow him down on the base paths. Alfonso Soriano did it twice with the Yankees, once with the Rangers and again with the Nationals.
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Betts joins Ellsbury as the only Red Sox players to join the 30/30 club. Those two are the only players in franchise history to crack the 25/25 thresholds in a season. Ellsbury was often atop the stolen base leaderboards during his tenure in Boston but 2011 was the only year he displayed the power to pair with his speed. Betts hit 31 homers and stole 26 bases in 2016 and just missed the cut for the 25/25 club with 24 homers and 26 steals last year.
Ellsbury’s addition came during a monster campaign that resulted in a second-place finish on the AL MVP ballot. He came up short to Justin Verlander in a race viewed as slightly controversial to those who question if pitchers should warrant MVP consideration. Ellsbury was clearly the top position player that year but the power surge proved to be fool’s gold. He would never approach that home run total again but did manage to parlay it into a massive contract that the New York Yankees would soon regret.
There’s a strong chance that the 30/30 membership will help push Betts to the top of the MVP ballot. His home run total ranks 9th in the AL and he’s fifth in steals. In addition to his rare blend of power and speed, Betts leads the league in runs scored, batting average, slugging, and WAR. He’s also second in doubles, OBP, and OPS.
Regardless of if Betts takes home the hardware, his entrance into the exclusive 30/30 club highlights how incredible his season has been.