40–40 club

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Alfonso Soriano, the most recent player to join the 40–40 club, commemorated the occasion in 2006 by retrieving the bag from second base after his 40th steal.

In Major League Baseball (MLB), the 40–40 club is the group of batters who have collected 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases in a single season. Jose Canseco was the first to achieve this, doing so in 1988 after having predicted the feat in April of that year.[1][2] The most recent player to reach the milestone is Alfonso Soriano, achieving the feat during the 2006 season.

In total, only four players have reached the 40–40 club in MLB history and none have done so more than once. Of these, three were right-handed batters and one was left-handed. Two players—Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez—are also members of the 600 home run club.[3] Jose Canseco is the only player to have won the MVP Award in the same year of his 40–40 season. Bonds finished 5th in the league on the MVP ballot, Soriano 6th and Rodriguez 9th, the seasons in which they accomplished the 40–40. Canseco is also the only one to lead his club to the postseason, making it to the World Series.[4] Alfonso Soriano collected 41 doubles alongside achieving 40–40.[5][6] Rodriguez is the only non-outfielder to attain 40–40.[a] All four 40–40 club members had at least 400 career home runs and 200 stolen bases. Canseco, Bonds and Soriano obtained the 40th base after already having 40 home runs for the season. Rodríguez had 40 stolen bases before his 40th home run. Both Soriano (39-41 in ‘02) and Bonds (40-37 in ‘97) got close to having multiple 40–40 seasons. Canseco’s next closest 40–40 season was 1998 (46-29). Rodriguez hit 40 home runs on seven other occasions but never stole more than 24 bases in any of those years.

Becoming a member of the 40–40 club is an elusive achievement in modern American baseball, as very few players possess both the power to hit 40 home runs and the speed to steal 40 bases in a season. Generally a player with the strength to hit 40 home runs will not have nearly the speed necessary to steal 40 bases, and vice versa. This remains true even as statistical trends change in the MLB — stolen base totals in the 1980s were unusually high, but very few players reached 40 home runs; home run totals were extremely high in the late 1990s, but stolen bases became more rare as the steal was a sparingly-used tactic. Bonds achieved the feat when his body was lean.[8]

Due to the modernity of the 40–40 club, as well as the links to the use of performance-enhancing drugs[9] by Bonds, Canseco and Rodriguez, no eligible club members have been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Eligibility requires that a player has "been retired five seasons" or deceased for at least six months.[10] With Rodriguez's retirement in 2016, there are no active players that have achieved a 40–40 season. Bonds remains on the Hall of Fame ballot, and Soriano fell off the Hall of Fame ballot in his first year of eligibility in 2020.

Bonds and Canseco were both implicated in the December 2007 Mitchell Report,[11][12] while Rodriguez admitted in 2009 to using steroids.[13][14] Soriano is also the only player to achieve the feat while playing at home. After stealing a base in an October 2, 2015 game for the NC Dinos, first baseman Eric Thames became the first player to join the Korea Baseball Organization's 40–40 club.[15]

Members[edit]

Jose Canseco became the first member of the 40–40 club in 1988.
Key
Year The year the player's 40–40 season occurred
Player Name of the player
Team The player's team for his 40–40 season
HR Number of home runs in that year
SB Number of stolen bases in that year
dagger Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame
double-dagger Player is active
Members of the 40–40 club
Year Player Team HR SB Ref
1988 Jose Canseco Oakland Athletics 42 40 [16]
1996 Barry Bonds San Francisco Giants 42 40 [17]
1998 Alex Rodriguez Seattle Mariners 42 46 [18]
2006 Alfonso Soriano Washington Nationals 46 41 [6]

Near-misses[edit]

The first player to approach the mark was Ken Williams in 1922, with 39 home runs and 37 stolen bases, thus making him the first player to reach the 30–30 club. It took another 30 years for another player to come close to 40–40, as Willie Mays did in 1956 with 36 home runs and 40 stolen bases. Bobby Bonds hit his 38th home run of the season on September 9, 1973, but came up one home run shy of becoming the founding member of the club after hitting just one home run in the Giants' final 21 games.

In 1987, Eric Davis of the Cincinnati Reds missed becoming the first player to accomplish 40–40, falling 3 home runs short, when he hit 37 home runs and stole 50 bases. When Canseco predicted he would reach 40–40 in 1988, he mistakenly assumed "five or six players must have done it."[19] After Canseco became the first member of the club, Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle was quoted as saying, "Hell, If I'd known 40–40 was going to be a big deal, I'd have done it every year!"[20] Mantle's career best for stolen bases in a single season was 21.[21]

In 2002, both Vladimir Guerrero of the Montreal Expos and Alfonso Soriano of the New York Yankees were only one home run short of reaching 40–40 after achieving 39, with 40 stolen bases.[22] In 2004, Carlos Beltrán was two home runs shy as he hit 38 and collected 42 steals, splitting the season between the Kansas City Royals and Houston Astros. In 2011, Matt Kemp came up one home run shy, as he hit 39 and stole 40 bases.[23]

In 2019, Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. barely missed the 40–40 club, hitting 41 home runs and stealing 37 bases before his season ended prematurely due to an injury.

Below are players that had come the closest, having 40 or more in one category and 35 or more in the other, without reaching 40.

Year Player Team HR SB
1956 Willie Mays New York Giants 36 40
1973 Bobby Bonds San Francisco Giants 39 43
1977 California Angels 37 41
1987 Eric Davis Cincinnati Reds 37 50
1989 Howard Johnson New York Mets 36 41
1997 Barry Bonds San Francisco Giants 40 37
2002 Vladimir Guerrero Montreal Expos 39 40
Alfonso Soriano New York Yankees 39 40
2004 Carlos Beltrán Kansas City Royals
Houston Astros
38 42
2011 Matt Kemp Los Angeles Dodgers 39 40
2019 Ronald Acuña Jr. Atlanta Braves 41 37

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Soriano, who played second base exclusively from 2001 through 2005, moved to left field starting in 2006 (which, coincidentally, was his 40–40 season).[7]

References[edit]

General

  • "40–40 Club". Baseball-Almanac.com. Baseball Almanac. Retrieved May 27, 2012.
  • "The 40–40 Club – Rare Feats". MLB.com. Major League Baseball. Retrieved July 4, 2012.

Specific

  1. ^ Eskenazi, Gerald (October 5, 1988). "Canseco Facing High Expectations". The New York Times. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  2. ^ THOMAS BOSWELL (August 19, 1988). "Jose Canseco's 40-40 Vision Starting to Come Into Focus". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 26, 2013.
  3. ^ "Career Leaders & Records for Home Runs". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved May 8, 2012.
  4. ^ "Most Valuable Player MVP Awards & Cy Young Awards Winners". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved May 24, 2012.
  5. ^ "Soriano first ever to reach 40–40–40 mark". Associated Press. May 24, 2012. Archived from the original on November 2, 2007. Retrieved July 31, 2007.
  6. ^ a b "Alfonso Soriano Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved May 10, 2012.
  7. ^ "Soriano's first game in left field goes smoothly". ESPN (Associated Press). April 3, 2006. Retrieved June 25, 2012.
  8. ^ Brown, Tim (August 5, 2007). "Hello Hank". yahoo.com. Archived from the original on August 21, 2012.
  9. ^ Posnanski, Joe (February 16, 2009). "The End Of An Era?". Sports Illustrated. Archived from the original on August 21, 2012. Retrieved August 21, 2012.
  10. ^ "Rules for Election". National Baseball Hall of Fame. Retrieved July 4, 2012.
  11. ^ Bloom, Barry M. (December 13, 2007). "Mitchell Report proposes solutions". MLB.com. Retrieved June 25, 2012.
  12. ^ "Baseball's Mitchell Report Players". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved May 24, 2012.
  13. ^ Gammons, Peter (February 9, 2009). "A-Rod admits, regrets use of PEDs". ESPN. Retrieved February 9, 2009.
  14. ^ Schmidt, Michael S. (February 9, 2009). "Rodriguez Admits to Using Performance-Enhancing Drugs". New York Times. Retrieved February 9, 2009.
  15. ^ "Eric Thames becomes first with 40-40 in S. Korean baseball; Park Byung-ho sets RBI mark". Yonhap. October 2, 2015. Retrieved October 2, 2015.
  16. ^ "Jose Canseco Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved May 10, 2012.
  17. ^ "Barry Bonds Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved May 10, 2012.
  18. ^ "Alex Rodriguez Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved May 10, 2012.
  19. ^ Roberts, Russell (1999). Stolen!: A History of Base Stealing. McFarland. p. 175. ISBN 9780786406500. Retrieved August 21, 2012.
  20. ^ Shaughnessy, Dan (June 16, 2009). "These Lakers fans are living in la-la land". The Boston Globe.
  21. ^ "Mickey Mantle Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved August 11, 2012.
  22. ^ Chass, Murray (September 30, 2002). "BASEBALL; Two Star Players Join A Select, if Odd, Group". The New York Times. Archived from the original on August 21, 2012. Retrieved February 4, 2017.
  23. ^ Standig, Ben (September 8, 2011). "Game with Nationals canceled due to rain". MLB.com. Retrieved December 7, 2011.