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Whit Merrifield joins the 40/40 club (no, not that one, the other one)

This is 40.

Kansas City Royals v Detroit Tigers Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

Some players are power hitters. Others bring speed to the table. But the players that can bring a blend of power and speed are the rare unicorns of the baseball world. Sure, plenty of players exhibit power and speed in the minors. But they never learn to hit a curveball, or the power doesn’t translate to higher levels, or they lose a step or never learn when to read a pitcher and steal a bag.

The “40/40” club is still a very exclusive club. Only four players have ever hit 40 home runs and stolen 40 bases in a season - Jose Canseco, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, and Alfonso Soriano. Only one of those players - Soriano - has never had any PED allegations against him.

But there is a different 40/40 club for players, perhaps not as glitzy or as exclusive, but they don’t allow just anyone in. And now Whit Merrifield has been granted membership. On Wednesday, Whit became just the 19th player since 1969 to hit 40 doubles and steal 40 bases in the same season.

40 doubles/40 steals club

Player Team Year Doubles Stolen Bases
Player Team Year Doubles Stolen Bases
Whit Merrifield KCR 2018 42 41
Jose Altuve HOU 2014 47 56
Brian Roberts BAL 2008 51 40
Hanley Ramirez FLA 2007 48 51
Brian Roberts BAL 2007 42 50
Alfonso Soriano WSN 2006 41 41
Hanley Ramirez FLA 2006 46 51
Bobby Abreu PHI 2004 47 40
Alfonso Soriano NYY 2002 51 41
Eric Young CHC 2000 40 54
Johnny Damon KCR 2000 42 46
Craig Biggio HOU 1998 51 50
Ray Lankford STL 1992 40 42
Roberto Alomar TOR 1991 41 53
Howard Johnson NYM 1989 41 41
Chris Sabo CIN 1988 40 46
Ozzie Smith STL 1987 40 43
Paul Molitor MIL 1987 41 45
Steve Sax LAD 1986 43 40

Even if you go back to the beginning of baseball, only 40 players total have accomplished the feat, nine of those in the 19th century, an era in which a man named Jack Glasscock could achieve the feat with nary a giggle. No one did it for three decades between 1938 and 1968. Other players who accomplished the feat early in the 20th century include Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, and Shoeless Joe Jackson. Even if you’re a casual baseball fan, you’ve likely heard of them.

How about this, how many players have hit 40 doubles, 40 steals, hit .300, and hit at least 10 home runs? Just 13. Ever. And Whit is one of them.

It is a testament to his versatility, not just in his ability to play all over the field, but to help his team win in so many different ways. He can smash a home run, move a runner over, smack a double, steal a bag, make a sliding play on a grounder at second, and look devilishly handsome doing it.

So here’s to you, Whit Merrifield. You’re easily the most valuable Royals player this year, and one of the highlights in what has been an otherwise lousy season.