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Ronald Acuna Newsbeat

Sunday, May 21, 2023

The staggering numbers behind Acuña’s push for baseball history

Leading in steals and OPS

Rickey. Willie. They are two of the iconic names in baseball history. Perhaps Ronald could one day join them.

Here are the only two players to lead their league (AL or NL) in both stolen bases and OPS in the same season, since integration (1947), per the Elias Sports Bureau:

Rickey Henderson (A’s): Led 1990 AL with 65 SB, 1.016 OPS
Willie Mays (Giants): Led 1958 NL with 31 SB, 1.002 OPS
Willie Mays (Giants): Led 1957 NL with 38 SB, 1.034 OPS^
^Note: Some sources, such as Baseball Reference, show Mays losing the 1957 NL OPS title to the Cardinals’ Stan Musial, 1.034 to 1.033, due to an issue with Mays’ walk total. Elias, which is MLB’s official statistician, has Mays at 1.034 as well.

Two other players managed to lead their league in that pair of stats since the start of the Live Ball Era in 1920. But in addition to taking place before integration, both have notable caveats attached. Snuffy Stirnweiss of the 1945 Yankees played in a league that had lost a number of players to World War II military service, including three of the top 10 AL OPS finishers from 1944. And Chuck Klein of the 1932 Phillies played in the absurdly hitter-friendly environs of the Baker Bowl, where he batted .423/.464/.799. (His NL-leading SB total was also a mere 20).

So Henderson and Mays are the closest parallels to what Acuña is doing. And hey, when you’re in the exclusive company of two inner-circle Hall of Famers—the all-time stolen base king and arguably the sport’s greatest all-around player—that’s always nice.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 21, 2023 at 06:01 PM | 10 comment(s)
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