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The Royals who came closest to joining the 30/30 club

Bobby Witt Jr. could become the first in club history.

Kansas City Royals v Cleveland Guardians Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images

Bobby Witt Jr. has already proven himself to be one of the most unique combinations of power and speed in baseball history. He’s the first player ever to hit 20+ home runs and steal 30+ bases in each of his first two seasons. He’s the seventh player to put up a 25+ homer, 35+ stolen base season at age 23 or younger. And with two more home runs, he could become the first player in Royals history to put up a 30+ home run, 30+ stolen base season.

Joining the 30/30 club takes a rare blend of power and speed. Only 65 players in the history of baseball have accomplished the feat, and it was done just once in the first 50 years of the 20th century - by Ken Williams of the St. Louis Browns in 1922. It wasn’t until racial integration that the feat was accomplished on a more regular basis - the next nine 30/30 seasons were by African-American ballplayers (Tommy Harper, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays twice, and Bobby Bonds five times). There have also been four 40/40 seasons in MLB history - Jose Canseco (1988), Barry Bonds (1996), Alex Rodriguez (1998), and Alfonso Soriano (2006).

No one in Royals history has ever reached 30/30, but here is a list of those that have gotten the closest

5. Amos Otis (1978) 22 HR 32 SB

Otis was the first player in Royals history to really be known for being a good power hitter and bring plus speed to the ballpark. The Royals got him in one of the greatest heists of the decade, acquiring him from the Mets for third baseman Joe Foy. Otis was an All-Star in his first season in Kansas City in 1970, the first of four straight All-Star appearances.

By 1978, he was considered one of the best players in the game, and he put it all together for a big season for the division-winning Royals. He had a monster September, hitting .411/.476/.701 with nine steals to give him 32, ninth in the league. He hit a solid 22 home runs, but not enough to make a serious run at 30/30. Still, it was a fantastic season where he was worth 7.4 WAR and he finished fourth in MVP voting.

“Amos Otis had a tremendous year with the bat, on the bases and with the glove. He just couldn’t play any better.”

-Royals manager Whitey Herzog

4. Bo Jackson (1988) 25 HR 27 SB

In April of 1988, young Athletics slugger José Canseco set a goal of hitting 40 home runs and stealing 40 bases. It seemed brash, but after a hot second half, Canseco became the first player to reach the mark, eventually winning MVP (although he later admitted he was using steroids that season).

Bo Jackson was an all-natural athletic god, a former Heisman Trophy winner at Auburn who was stunning the baseball world with his abilities. He was in just his second full MLB season in 1988 when he began to take the league by storm. He was hitting .309/.344/.520 with 9 home runs and 14 steals through 50 games when he tore his hamstring running to first. The injury cost him all of June, and he stole just one base in July upon his return. He would eventually become the first 25/25 player in club history.

“If he plays a full season, injury-free, I’m here to tell you Bo can do it.”

-Royals manager John Wathan

3. Carlos Beltrán (2003) 26 HR 41 SB

The 2003 season was the most magical 83-79 season a team has ever had, as the moribund Royals surprised the baseball world with a hot start and stayed in first place for most of the summer before a late collapse left them out of the post-season. The Royals got off to a 16-3 start despite star Carlos Beltrán missing the first two weeks of the season, then getting off to a slow start. He caught fire in May, hitting 7 home runs and stealing 7 bases

“Most people around the country even most people in Kansas City may not think of Carlos Beltran as one of the great players in baseball. But he is. He is, in fact, the most complete player in the game right now, a five-tool wonder, a guy who breaks records without anyone noticing.”

-Joe Posnanski

2. Bo Jackson (1989) 32 HR 26 SB

Bo had his coming out party in 1989. He had a national ad campaign by Nike featuring him front and center, and he backed it up on the baseball field. He smacked 8 home runs and stole 9 bases in April and by the time he was off to the All-Star Game as the leading vote-getter, he had already hit 21 home runs with 23 steals in just 81 games. He became the first player ever to hit a home run and steal a base in the game, showing off the power/speed combination that was capable of putting together a 30/30 season, and winning MVP for the game.

But again injuries caught up to him. He had tried to play through a thigh injury he suffered in June, but by late July he had to hit the disabled list for three weeks to give it time to heal. He was able to reach the 30-home run mark in early September, but he stole just three bases after the All-Star game, getting caught four times, and only attempting two steals all of September. Two weeks after the season, he ran for 85 yards for the Los Angeles Raiders in their win over the Chiefs.

1. Carlos Beltrán (2002) 29 HR 35 SB

Beltrán flirted with the 30/30 club a few times in a Royals uniform, but 2002 was the closest anyone in club history ever got to reaching the plateau. The switch-hitter got off to a bit of a cool start, hitting just .254 going into the All-Star break with 12 home runs. But he turned things on in the second half, and hit seven home run in September to get to 28 when he went into his final game against Cleveland. He homered in the first inning off Roy Smith to get to 29. In the fourth inning he hit a line drive deep to left, but it was only a double, not home run #30. He would walk and foul out in his final plate appearances, as the Royals lost for the 100th time that year, the first time in club history they had reached that mark.

Beltrán would eventually join the 30/30 club in 2004, when he split his time between the Royals and Astros and hit 38 home runs with 42 steals.

Other Royals in the 20/20 club

Carlos Beltrán, 1999 - 22 HR 27 SB

Carlos Beltrán, 2001 - 24 HR 31 SB

Jeff Francoeur, 2011 - 20 HR 22 SB

Bobby Witt Jr., 2022 - 20 HR 30 SB