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Not all 30-30 seasons are created equal

Sep 28, 2009, 12:52 PM EDT

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.

  1. Grant - Sep 28, 2009 at 2:02 PM

    Been a while since I thought about Raul Mondesi. Neat.

  2. smokehouse - Sep 28, 2009 at 5:57 PM

    This 30/30 is a farce. If you think players prior to 1982 knew this would be a big deal by writers there would have been dozen’s and dozen’s more.

  3. MEC - Sep 28, 2009 at 8:57 PM

    Really? So what you’re saying is, players would have hit more homers and stolen more basis, if only thay had know it would be important?

  4. Joe Blow - Sep 28, 2009 at 11:04 PM

    Thats exactly what Mickey Mantle said in 1988 when people made a big deal about Canseco’s 40/40 season.

  5. the pacific hbo - Feb 23, 2010 at 11:11 AM

    Sorry if my english language is not very good. i simply intend to tell i like this article a lot. say thank you

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