Saturday, June 30, 2012

Andrew McCutchen And 30/30




Last night I was watching the Cardinals and Pirates playing and in his second at bat Andrew McCutchen laced a ball into the left centerfield gap that hit the warning track and hit the wall. This ball was crushed as if he got under it just a little bit more the ball would have got out in about a half of a second.

While that ball wasn't a home run it got me thinking, could this be the year that Andrew McCutchen could challenge to be a 30/30 guy? For those of you unfamiliar with what the 30/30 is that means that a player hits 30 home runs and steals 30 bases in the same season. It is a somewhat obscure stat but one that not many players can get to. Sure, there have been a ton of players that have hit 30 home runs but not all of them have the athleticism or base stealing ability to get the 30 stolen bases.

A little back story on how few players have ever got to the 30/30 club. In Major League Baseball history there have only been 37 players to get into the 30/30 club with the first being Ken Williams with 39 home runs and 37 stolen bases in 1922. The next instance of this didn't come until 1956 when Willie Mays accomplished it for the first time. Since those days it has happened more often due to the fact that players are now bigger, faster and stronger but it is still a pretty impressive feat when you can hit this milestone.

The Pirates have only one player on that list and that is the great Barry Bonds as he did it twice with the Pirates in 1991 and then again in 1992.

Last year an astounding four players were in the club with Ryan Braun (33/33), Matt Kemp (39/40), Ian Kinsler (32/20) and Jacoby Ellsbury (32/39) all accomplishing the feat. Since the 2000 season it has happened 20 times so it is not as uncommon as before but still something that makes you turn your head.

Last season McCutchen saw a bump in his home run total as he cranked out 23 home runs and stole 23 bases. As you know McCutchen slumped in the second half of last season which significantly hindered his on base percentage and therefore hurt his chances of swiping bases. So far this year it has been much, much, different as before today's game with the Cardinals he is getting on base at nearly a .400 clip and along with that his is hitting the ball out of the part at a pretty serious rate.

So, like I said, I was watching the game and saw the double and really didn't give much thought to it. I threw out a question on twitter to see what people thought and nobody got back to me so I really didn't put much more into it. Then in the ninth inning McCutchen crushed a pitch into the left centerfield seats for his 15th home run of the season. The galway point for the home run side of the 30/30. At this point McCutchen already has 14 stolen bases so he is just about half way there through only 76 games.

To put this is a little more perspective here is a breakdown of all of the 30/30 members since the 2005 season and what their numbers were through the first 76 games (home runs/stolen bases):

2011
Matt Kemp (20/21)
Ryan Braun (15/16)
Ian Kinsler (8/15)
Jacoby Ellsbury (9/24)

2009
Ian Kinsler (19/16)

2008
Hanley Ramirez (16/19)
Grady Sizemore (17/17)

2007
David Wright (13/16)
Jimmy Rollins (13/14)
Brandon Phillips (14/15)

2006
Alfonso Soriano (24/18)

2005
Alfonso Soriano (19/8)

Total average (15.5/16.5)


So as you can see McCutchen is right about on line with what the last handful of 30/30 guys have done through 76 games. Obviously that doesn't mean a lot because all of this will depend on McCutchen's second half play and if he can avoid the canyon that he fell into last season. I don't think that he will be able to keep up quite the hitting display he has put on thus far but thinking of him as a 30/30 player isn't too far out of the question.

While being 30/30 might not mean a lot in the grand scheme of things it truly tells you about how hard it is to do. While more players are doing it recently that doesn't mean it is easy and it surely doesn't mean just any player can do it. It takes a special and complete player to do such a thing and for McCutchen to reach this would be both really fun to watch and really encouraging in his development.

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