Bobby Witt Jr. has become the first player in Kansas City Royals history to reach 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases in a single season. He stole his 30th stolen base back on August 2, but on Friday he launched his 30th home run into the record books. That achievement has been accomplished just 68 times in league history by 46 different players. Outfielder Julio Rodriguez became the newest member of the 30-30 club earlier this season for the Seattle Mariners, as did Francisco Lindor of the New York Mets.
Of course, earlier this week outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. became the first player ever to reach 30 home runs and 70 stolen bases in a single season. It was the second 30-30 season in his young career, the first coming back in 2019. Among recent players to accomplish the feat, many are outfielders. Witt and Lindor are the first shortstops to accomplish it since Hanley Ramirez who did so back in 2008 for the Marlins.
In terms of franchise history, this becomes the second time in history that a Royals player has reached the milestone, technically. Back in 2004, Carlos Beltran was traded 69 games into the season. At that point, he had hit 15 home runs and stolen 14 bases. After arriving in Houston, he added 23 homers and 28 stolen bags to that total to finish the year with 38 home runs and 42 stolen bases. Beltran certainly deserves his place in Royals’ history, but technically by the time he accomplished the feat, he was a member of the Astros organization. Who knows where he’d have ended up if he played a full season of home games in The K.
At just 23 years old, Bobby Witt Jr. has tied Jose Canseco and Bobby Bonds as the fifth youngest player in league history to accomplish a 30-30 season. The only players to do so at a younger age are Alex Rodriguez (22), Julio Rodriguez (22), Ronald Acuña Jr. (21), and Mike Trout (20). It becomes just the latest in a long list of improvements this season for the Royals’ young phenom.
This season, he’s seen a marked improvement in just about every aspect of his game. He’s become the very best defender in baseball while finding himself at the plate as well. Compared to his rookie season, his walk rate, strikeout rate, average, slugging percentage, and wRC+ are all improved. His 5.5 fWAR will finish the year among some of the league’s very best.
As the offseason looms, there’s really just one more question left when it comes to Bobby Witt Jr.’s future: Will the Royals sign him to an extension and keep him in town for the long haul? Bobby Witt Jr. is going to make a crap ton of money when (not if) he gets paid. If the Royals don’t pay him, someone will. For that reason, extension talks should be front and center this offseason. The bill is only going to grow as Witt gets closer to free agency and the Royals cannot afford to wait any longer.
This summer, Witt will be a year older than Fernando Tatis Jr. and Julio Rodriguez were when they signed their mega-extensions. Tatis signed for 14 years, $341 million back in 2021 and Rodriguez signed a 12-year, $210 million extension last year. The Royals’ shortstop now has substantially more games under his belt than both of those players at the time of their deal. He’s also a year closer to free agency, meaning the clock is ticking.
The Rodriguez contract is likely the best structure to compare to for the Royals, as it features escalators and thresholds that could allow the Mariners’ center fielder to earn as much as $469 million over the life of his contract. Whatever contract Witt receives, it will without a doubt be massive. If it comes from John Sherman, it will undoubtedly be far and away the largest in franchise history — and worth every penny.