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AL MVP Candidate Mookie Betts Joins The Illustrious 30-30 Club

Mookie Betts is the 2018 American League MVP and the best player in baseball this season.

Mookie Betts is the 2018 American League MVP and the best player in baseball this season. 

Props to the probable NL MVP Christian Yelich of Milwaukee for a breakout season and Betts’ teammate JD Martinez for wrecking shop and clearing off the bases, but Betts has been the leader of a historic Boston Red Sox team and hes better than those guys in runs scored, batting average, OPS, slugging, doubles, WAR — and stolen bases

Speaking of steals, Betts is putting the lost art in the spotlight and reintroducing its value to the young generation of metric monsters.

Tristan H. Cockcroft on Twitter

Only four players in history have batted at least .333 in a 30/30 season: Willie Mays 1957 Ellis Burks 1996 Larry Walker 1997 Vladimir Guerrero 2002 Mookie Betts just joined the 30/30 club and is hitting .344.


Betts a rare combination of power and speed — and the fact that he had an MVP jacked from him by Mike Trout in 2016 — is a major reason why hes my AL MVP pick. He’s overdue and he represents everything great about the game of baseball from his style of play to his various skills, to the complexion of his skin, which serves as an inspiration to kids of color with a diamond dream. His impact’s invaluable to the sport and he aligns his accomplishments with the all-time Black Knights of MLB.  


Vinnie P. on Twitter

Among its 40 members, Mookie Betts currently has the second highest average in 30-30 club history. #RedSox

Thanks to Betts who has stolen 30 bases and hit 32 homers from the leadoff spot, and Jose Ramirez of the Cleveland Indians who has 38 homers and 33 steals, the 30-30 baseball player is back after a five-year hiatus. 

SI MLB on Twitter

Jos Ramrez became the first 30-30 player since Mike Trout in 2012. What happened to the power-speed combo? https://t.co/UcKlWfxPgU


When I was growing up, players who could swipe 30 bases and pump 30 bombs, were the ultimate playmakers. They could wreck shop with their legs and bat. They represented the five-tool athletes that make baseball incredible; Willie Mays, Rickey Henderson, Mickey Mantle, Alex Rodriguez, Eric Davis, Darryl Strawberry, Barry Bonds and more. 

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Back in the days, putting together a 30-30 season meant you were the absolute pinnacle of your sport. The two most dynamic and crowd-pleasing plays in baseball are the home run and the stolen base. If you can accomplish both, then there’s no denying your viability as an MLB superstar. 


 In 1983, Dale Murphy had 36 homers and 30 steals, and there wasn’t another 30-30 season for four years. Then in 1987,  New York Mets stars Strawberry and Howard Johnson, E. Davis and Joe Carterset off an explosion of 30-30 players. 

Phil Curtolo on Twitter

MetsTrivia A: Howard Johnson & Darryl Strawberry put up 30/30 seasons in 1987, the first two in franchise history to accomplish the feat.

There would be 20 in the next decade, including four in both ’96 and ’97 and despite the jump in home runs, all aspects of baseball were still exciting and pumped up. The game had never been so captivating, athletic and multi-dimensional. 

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It seems to be cyclical. Lets hope this is the beginning of a new trend in baseball because the homer-or-strikeout horror film that we have witnessed isn’t helping attract fans of color to the game. 

Evan Drellich on Twitter

This century, there have been 25 seasons where a major league player has gone 30-30. But the feat is increasingly uncommon. In the last six seasons, starting with 2013, it’s only happened one other time: Jose Ramirez this year.



With the exception of the strike year in 1994 (Barry Bonds had 37 homers and 29 steals in half a season), every season from 1995-2009 had at least one 30-30 monster.


There were four in 2011 — Ryan Braun, Jacoby Ellsbury, Matt Kemp, and Ian Kinsler. There were two more in 2012. Braun and a record-breaking rookie named Mike Trout both did it.  

In came the metrics-driven game cleansers who devalued the stolen base and from 2013 until this season, we had no 30-30 ballers. A one-dimensional style of baseball will never be the ticket and shouldn’t be the product that MLB promotes to an increasingly diverse and colorful game. 

Ballers like Betts and Ramirez understand this and other young stars are also utilizing their speed and accumulating more stolen bases to complement a power game that is already snagging them headlines. MLB’s boasts a band of 30-20 and 20-20 guys mixing it up this season.  

Betts becomes 2nd Red Sox player to join 30-30 club

Mookie Betts joins Jacoby Ellsbury as the only players in franchise history to record 30 steals and 30 home runs in the same season About Major League Baseball: Major League Baseball (MLB) is the most historic professional sports league in the United States and consists of 30 member clubs in the U.S.


Washingtons Trea Turner (18 homers, 43 steals) has a chance to go 20-40 this season. Trevor Story has 34 homers and 26 steals. If he can get on base a bit in these last few games he can possibly join the club. 

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Milwaukee’s Christian Yelich has made a late run at the AL MVP and has 33 homers and 21 steals. After a blazing start Trout cooled off a bit and has 38 homers and 24 steals. Cleveland’s Francisco Lindor (37 HR and 23 SB), Tim Anderson (20 HR 26 SB, Ian Desmond (21 HR 20 SB) Starling Marte (19 HR 33 SB) all have exhibited deadly combinations of power and speed and provided their clubs with a multitude of weapons to use in trying to score runs. 

Twenty-five-year-old Chicago Cubs star Javier Baez (34 HR 21 SB) might be the littest of the bunch. 

Javy Baez Highlight Mix | “All the Way Up” HD

Uploaded by Sports Lounge on 2017-07-02.


The 2018 season marks the return of the 30-30 players and how fitting would it be that Mookie Betts, a guy who returned the 30-30 season to baseball, wins the MVP and ushers in a new era where the five-tool athlete is appreciated and allowed to infuse his electricity into the game. 


JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The Deputy Editor and Senior Writer is in his 23rd year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, magazines and national TV.

His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.