Last-Minute Highlights Freeman’s RBI double ties Acuna Jr. at 40-40 [SS Recap]

Baseball is a game of records.

스포츠토토When veteran players extend their careers, it’s not for the money. They want to retire with milestones. This season, Adam Wainwright (42) of the St. Louis Cardinals wanted to win 200 games and Zack Greinke (39) of the Kansas City Royals wanted to strike out 3,000 batters.

Wainwright reached the 200-win plateau on April 19 against the Milwaukee Brewers. He’s one win away from retiring after the season. Greinke may not reach 3,000 strikeouts this year. As of Aug. 22, he has 2,972. That’s 28 short. The strikeout record is within his reach. He needs help from his teammates. Every pitcher with 3,000 strikeouts is in the Hall of Fame.

A Wainwright or Greinke record is possible if you stay injury-free for long enough in the majors. But there are some records that can’t be broken. These include Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak and Cal Ripken Jr.’s 2,632 consecutive games played.

There are also some records that have been held for a very long time due to their high altitude. There’s a player who’s trying to break both records at the end of the season. Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman and Atlanta Braves right fielder Ronald Acuna, Jr.

Freeman wants 60 doubles, and Acuna Jr. wants the 40-40 club (home runs and stolen bases). Both records are tough. Just look at the players who have done it in the past. Only six players have ever hit 60 or more doubles in a season, and only four have done so in the 149-year history of Major League Baseball. The numbers also show that it’s a tough feat.

Atlanta Braves right fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. is one home run away from becoming the fifth player in major league history to join the 40-40 club (home runs and stolen bases). AFP

Freeman now has 56 career doubles. Acuna Jr. has 39, and it’s only a matter of time. He went 1-for-6 without a home run and added a stolen base against the Washington Nationals on May 22. 68.

The last time a player had more than 60 doubles in a season was 1936. There was one in each league. St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Joe Medwick hit 64 and the Detroit Tigers’ Charlie Geringer hit 60. No player has hit 60 doubles in a season in 87 years. Freeman is up for the challenge.

Doubles are the product of the quintessential middle-of-the-order hitter. Freeman has a slugger’s bat, with 318 home runs over the last 14 years, but his style is middle-of-the-order, with a swing that stretches from “in to out” and a lot of hits to the left and right of center.

More than 60 doubles in a season were clustered between 1926 and 1936. Another factor is that stadiums were larger than they are today. Nowadays, stadiums are built more for home runs and are shorter in the center and left field than they used to be, so there are far fewer doubles. The most doubles from 1940-1994 were 56 by George Kell (Detroit Tigers) in 1950, 54 by John Allred (Toronto Blue Jays) in 1993, 53 by John McCray (Kansas City Royals) in 1977, 53 by Don Mattingly (New York Yankees) in 1986, and 53 by Stan Musial (St. Louis Cardinals) in 1953.

It will be interesting to see if Freeman can add four more doubles in the remaining 11 games.

The 40-40 Club is the hotshot’s superlative. Ironically, the 40-40 club was created by drugs. The best the Hotazuns had was 30-30. Barry Bonds’ father, Bobby Bonds, was the original 30-30.

In 1922, Ken Williams of the St. Louis Browns (now Baltimore Orioles) became the first member of the 30-30 club with 39 homers and 37 steals. Then, in 1956, Willie Mays of the New York Mets kicked off the 30-30 movement with a 36-40 mark. Mays joined the 30–30 club two years in a row, Bobby Bonds did it five times, and his son Barry did it five times, including 40-40. It’s an iconic Hotajun family, with the father making the 30-30 a whopping 10 times.

The first 40-40 was by Jose Canseco of the Oakland Aces’ Bash Brothers. He broke the 40-40 tape in 1988 with 42 homers and 40 doubles. He was followed in 1996 by Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants, who became the second member of the 40-40 club with an identical 42-40. The third was Alex Rodriguez of the Seattle Mariners in 1998, who made 42-46. The fourth was Alfonso Soriano of the Washington Nationals in 2006 with 46 home runs and 41 stolen bases.

Ronald Acuna Jr. and Freddie Freeman (right) attempting to break the MLB record. The former teammates share a moment at first base during a series at Dodger Stadium on Sept. 1. EPA Yonhap News

Acuna Jr. becomes the fifth member of the 40-40 Club in 17 years. It’s significant because he joins the club as a clean hitter who has stayed away from PEDs. He will also be the first to join the 40-60 club, going beyond 40-40. He currently has 68 stolen bases. With more stolen bases, he could reach the 40-70 club.

The reason for his high number of stolen bases is due to the fact that he’s been covering more ground this year.

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