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Beltran on pace to do something no other Cardinal or Royal ever has

Power and speed.  Two basic elements that the best of professional athletes posses.

When it comes to baseball, the epitome of power and speed manifest themselves in the players that achieve milestones when they can hit home runs and steal bases in the same season.  The man that can steal 30 bases and hit 30 home runs gets recognized as an all-around player.  Over time, a select few have pushed that limit to 40-40.  Matt Kemp has boldly proclaimed that he wants to be 50-50.

Through all of that, however, the two i70 teams have missed out.  Niether the Kansas City Royals nor the St. Louis Cardinals have ever had a player hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in the same season.  Oh, some have come close, but they have narrowly missed.

In the early stages of 2012, the Cardinals have a player, a former Royal no less, that is on pace for a 30-30 season.  No one would have predicted a 30-30 season for Carlos Beltran in 2012, but he grabbed the interest of this writer and caused me to dig a little deeper.

There are 38 members of the 30-30 club in Major League Baseball, twelve of which exist in the American League with the balance of 26 in the National League.  Funny enough, if you dig through the numbers, two players achieved the feat on five separate occasions.  The two most prolific of the group?  Father and son, Bobby and Barry Bonds.

To examine the two i70 teams, we have to take a step back and look at players that have finished with 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases, a feat much more common in baseball though elusive with our favorite clubs.

For as long as the Cardinals have existed, it took quite a while before they found someone that could blend speed and power together.  It was 1967 when future Hall Of Famer Lou Brock would first reach the measurements of balance, clubbing 21 home runs and stealing 52 bases.  Known much more for his speed, it would be the only time his power numbers would be great enough to include him in such a list.

It was the Western Missouri team that would reach our list the next two times as the Cardinals would not find themselves back in this discussion until 1992.  In 1978, however, the Royals Amos Otis would put the boys in blue in the discussion with a 22 home run and 32 stolen base season.

From there we fast forward to the one Royal that many would expect to be on this list, though he will make one appearance.  In 1988, one of the best all around athletes to ever grace the powder blue of the Kansas City Royals, Bo Jackson would hit 25 home runs and 27 stolen bases.  Bo was a fan favorite for many years in Kansas City, and 1988 might have been the reason why for many fans.

The year 1992 would put another Redbird on our 20/20 board, and the most prolific Cardinal to achieve the feat.  Ray Lankford would reach the board, stealing 42 bases and hitting exactly 20 home runs.  Lankford would prove to be impressive at reaching 20/20 and narrowly missing 30/30 throughout his career.  Lankford would reach our chart in 1995 (25HR/24SB), 1996 (21HR/35SB), 1997 (31HR/21SB), and 1998 (31HR/26SB).  His 1998 season, obviously overshadowed by teammate Mark McGwire, would be the closest any Cardinal has ever come to reaching the 30/30 plateau.

The 1995 season would see another first and only for our two teams as Brain Jordan would put together arguably his best campaign as a Cardinal, hitting 22 home runs and stealing 24 bases.  If you are paying close attention as you read this article, you will realize that this impressive season for Jordan matched up with a solid one for Ray Lankford, giving the Cardinals two players in the same season to reach the 20/20 board.  The only time in the history of either club that two players would reach the board for the same team.

It might have been the only time that two players from one team made it, but 1999 would be the first season that a player from each team would achieve the marks we are tracking here today.  Possibly the one name that surprises the most on the Cardinal side of things, Fernando Tatis would hit 34 home runs and steal 21 bases to put himself on this list.  On the other side of the state, the Royals most prolific player would make his first appearance on the list.  Current Cardinal Carlos Beltran would hit 22 home runs and swipe 27 bags in his first of four 20/20 seasons for the Kansas City Royals, making 1999 the only year that a player from Kansas City and a player from St. Louis would make our board.

Beltran would go on to prove that his 1999 season was no fluke, reaching the milestone in 2001 (24HR/34SB), 2002 (29HR/35SB) and 2003 (26HR/41SB).  His 2002 season would be the closest anyone would come while wearing a Royals uniform.  We will revisit Beltran’s numbers in a minute.

The following season in 2004 would see Reggie Sanders, while wearing the Birds On The Bat, join the club hitting 22 home runs and stealing 21 bases.  Sanders is the most recent Cardinal on our list.

Finding the most recent Royal does not require a long journey into the vault.  The player affectionately known as “Frenchy”, Jeff Franceour joins our group just last season.  In 2011, Frenchy barely did well enough to be a part of our discussion, hitting 20 home runs and stealing 22 bases.

In all truth, the Royals had the best opportunity to break the 30/30 barrier with the guy that inspired the discussion in the first place, Carlos Beltran.  You see, Carlos holds a unique distinction in MLB history when talking about the 30/30 club.  He is the only player in the history of the game to have a 30/30 season in a year in which he played in both leagues.  He is one of only two players, Bobby Bonds being the other, to be traded during his 30/30 season.

The 2004 season would see the Royals trade their budding superstar to the Houston Astros in a three team deal that would gain the Royals John Buck and cash from the Astros as well as Mark Teahen and Mike Wood from the Oakland Athletics.  During that season, Beltran would hit 15 home runs and steal 14 bases for the Royals prior to the June 24th trade.  After the trade, Beltran would compile 23 home runs and 28 stolen bases for the Houston Astros.  His combined numbers of 38 home runs and 42 stolen bases not only put him on the 30/30 list, but would put him extremely close to joining the 40/40 list.

This season, Beltran finds himself healthy for the first time in a while and back on top of his game.  On pace to rejoin the 30/30 club and become the first of the i70 players to do so, Beltran will have to continue to remain healthy and play as well as he has in April.

20 Home Run and 20 Stolen Bases, Royals and Cardinals
Player/Year HR SB Player/Year HR SB
Lou Brock/1967 21 52 Amos Otis/1978 22 32
Ray Lankford/1992 20 42 Bo Jackson/1988 25 27
Ray Lankford/1995 25 24 Carlos Beltran/1999 22 27
Brian Jordan/1995 22 24 Carlos Beltran/2001 24 31
Ray Lankford/1996 21 35 Carlos Beltran/2002 29 35
Ray Lankford/1997 31 21 Carlos Beltran/2003 26 41
Ray Lankford/1998 31 26 Jeff Francoeur/2011 20 22
Fernando Tatis/1999 34 21
Reggie Sanders/2004 22 21

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.
Follow him on Twitter here.

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