Over the weekend, Ryan Braun became just the second Brewers player ever to compile 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases in the same season. Even if you don't put much stock into counting statistics, the fact that it's been over 40 years since the last time put up a 30-30 season makes it noteworthy.
To put what Braun has done in perspective, compare this season to some of the best in Brewers history. Robin Yount is generally regarded as the greatest Brewers player ever, but he never hit 30 home runs in a season.
His career high was 29 in his 1982 MVP season, but that year he only stole 14 bases (to his credit, he did hit 46 doubles that year...but Braun is at 36 and counting this year). Yount never came close to the 30 SB mark, with his career high in that category coming in 1988, when he stole 22.
Historically, the Brewers don't run much. Ken Macha took the reluctance to steal to new heights (or lows, depending on your viewpoint), but part of the reason Braun is just the second Brewer to have a 30-30 season is the fact that the franchise just hasn't had that many prolific base stealers.
Only nine players in Brewers history have even hit the 30-steal mark: Harper, Braun, Scott Podsednik, Pat Listach, Paul Molitor, Darryl Hamilton, Alex Sanchez, Mike Felder and Eric Young. That's it, and it goes without saying that many of those guys would have been lucky to crack double digits in home runs most years.
The list of Brewers who have hit at least 30 home runs is quite a bit longer, but the number of guys who were capable of also stealing 30 bases is also small â€“ Gorman Thomas wasn't good for more than a few a season, for example, and Geoff Jenkins actually had two seasons of at least 25 HRs and zero stolen base attempts.
With that in mind, it probably shouldn't be a surprise that the Brewers have only had two players put up 30-30 years. In fact, there aren't even that many narrow misses in Brewers history. In 2009, Braun hit 32 home runs, but only stole 20 bases. In 2007, Corey Hart hit 24 home runs and stole 23 bases. The closest Robin Yount got was his 23 home run, 20 stolen base season in 1980.
Adding to the rarity of Braun's 2011 season is the fact that he also hit the 100 runs scored and 100 runs batted in milestones over the weekend. He's the only Brewer to ever record a 30-30-100-100 season -- Harper scored 104 runs in 1970, but only drove in 82 -- and just the 22nd player in baseball history to do it (Matt Kemp became the 23rd a day later).
The list of players to have a 30-30-100-100 season is a little odd -- names like Bobby Abreu and Ellis Burks are on there with Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez -- but there's no doubt that it's still an impressive feat.
Braun is already a legitimate contender for the NL MVP. Add in the fact that Braun is chasing a batting title, is leading the league in slugging percentage and OPS, and has a chance to lead the league in runs scored, and it's entirely possible that we'll remember Braun's 2011 as the greatest single-season performance in Brewers history.
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