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Being Beaten with the 30-30
2002-08-19 11:59
by Mike Carminati

Being Beaten with the 30-30 Club

Alfonso Soriano accomplished the feat of being the first second baseman ever to gain entry into the 30-30 Club. My reaction is, "So What?" Is this season for Soriano really going to be defined by that accomplishment? Does it make anyone think any better of him?

Besides, Tommy Harper accomplished the feat as a third baseman in 1970, one year removed from his being a starting second baseman for the incomparable Pilots. Ron Gant entered the golden circle in 1990 (and again in '91) as a center fielder, two years removed from his last starting gig at second base.

My question is, does the 30-30 Club still serve a purpose or is it a throwback to an era when those numbers really were special? Today, scores of players routinely hit 30 home runs (33 MLB players project to 30 this year alone). Not many steal 30, but it's not because there is a dearth of speed (there are 18 players who project to 30 SBs this year). Rather, the stolen base has been relegated to the scrap heap by a number of teams who realize that the payoff is no longer so great when any of a number of subsequent batters may drive the runner in from first with one swing of the bat and the risk of using one of their outs is too great.

Look at A-Rod in 1998. He had a great year and was even a member of the 40-40 Club, but it was not his best year by a long shot. I would like to do an analysis one day of 30-30 men vs. players who either hit at least 30 homers but did not steal 30 bases or stole 30 bases and did not hit 30 homers to see if there is any real significance in actually doing both. Are the 30-30 men more valuable? I tend to doubt it but would have to do the analysis first.

By the way, I saw the ESPN report on Soriano yesterday and found out a few tidbits. If you missed it, it was kind of interesting. I knew that Soriano played in Japan for Hiroshima, but did not realize that he lost an arbitration hearing (basically between him, the commissioner, and the baseball officials-no reps allowed) and declared himself a free agent. He had been offered $40K to return to the minors in Japan where foreign players typically make $200K. He asked for $180K and lost. He turned down the contract, returned home, and waited to sign with an American team. Although the Carps threatened legal action should a MLB team sign Soriano, the Yankees took the chance, outbidding Mike Shapiro and the Indians in the process. Kind of cool.

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