MILWAUKEE, WI - APRIL 05: Outfielder Carlos Gonzalez #5 of the Colorado Rockies follows through on his swing after hitting the baseball against the Milwaukee Brewers at the Miller Park on April 05, 2010 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Rockies defeated the Brewers 5-3.(Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)
I've been spending the past couple days trying to find a reason to write about Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez. There was just something about his statistical line, which is loaded with shiny numbers, that kept me coming back to him.
Well, guess what? Thanks to Baseball Reference's Play Index, otherwise known as crack to anyone who loves baseball stats, I've found something that Gonzalez is on pace to do that's truly unique, and in my opinion, pretty awesome. And this makes me particularly excited, because now I don't feel like an idiot for staring at his 2010 line for an hour thinking, "There's just gotta be something special about this. I can sense it!"
But, alas, I figured it out: Gonzalez is racking up doubles, triples, homers and steals like nothing we've ever really seen before. He's quite legitimately on pace to put up numbers that haven't been matched in damn near 90 years. Heck, even if he got eaten by a bear today, he'd still finish with numbers in those respective categories that have only been matched 16 times in history by 13 different players - Willie Mays has matched/bested those numbers on four occasions.
I don't know about you, but there's always been a part of me that's been fascinated by guys that put up an impressive spread of doubles, triples, and homers on his way to a huge isolated power. You know, rather than merely hitting 50 homers and 25 doubles, a guy would hit 30 homers, 10 triples and 35 doubles, and he'd be awfully close to putting up similar power production to the guy who's killing him in the HR category. When you throw in base-stealing ability too, which is often present when you're talking about guys that can rack up 10+ triples, you're talking about some truly exciting, historically unique power-speed combinations. Plus, if you're kinda wacky like me, there's just something fun about the absence of single-digit numbers on a player's basic statistical line.
This is where Carlos Gonzalez comes in. He's proving to be an absolute master of this trade. On the season, he's got 29 home runs, 8 triples, 26 doubles and 20 steals. Pretty spiffy. And when compared to other players from this season, you can see that he's going to be in some pretty unique company. So after all that, I thought I'd put it up to the Player Index, using ZiPS' updated full-season projection. Basically, I wanted to know, "Within a single season, has everyone ever hit 34 homers, 10 triples and 32 doubles, while stealing 24 bases?"
And the results? It's happened once, and that was 88 years ago. In 1922, a 32-year-old Ken Williams batted .332/.413/.627 with 34 doubles, 11 triples, 39 homers and 37 steals. It's truly a sight to behold, Williams' 1922 line. Beyond all those extra-base hits and steals, he tossed in a league-leading 155 RBI, 128 runs scored, an unreal 74-31 walk-to-strikeout ratio, and he even got caught stealing on 20 occasions. The lowest figure in his entire basic statistical line from Baseball Reference is the 11 triples. Seriously, that stuff is bananas.
So while it's easy to point out the reasons why Gonzalez won't be able to maintain this kind of performance going forward, such as his .370 BABIP, huge home/road splits, and very weak walk-to-strikeout ratio, for now let's just marvel at what's proving to be a truly unique performance from the man who's doing a really damn good job of making Colorado forget Matt Holliday.