Royals dethroned: 10-2, but mostly 40/40 ruminations

“Funny how being north of south of a round number makes a big impact to us.” – Rob Copenhaver, on Monday.

“I don’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member.” –  Groucho Marx

I was once on a plane seated next to a formidably impressive fellow who informed me, in a voice which sounded like Barry White after smoking 10 packs of cigarettes and gargling with battery acid, that he worked for Jay-Z as house security in his sports bar, 40/40 Club.  Take a look at the link… It’s either your type of sports bar or it’s not.  As for me, it’s not clear that a sports bar should even have a cocktail menu, but if it did, it shouldn’t have drinks like this, though to be fair, at least they don’t have a drink named after Jim Leyritz. 

So I figured out I don’t want to be in the 40/40 Club, but Ronald Acuña Jr. clearly wanted to be, though the one he wants to be in is considerably more exclusive, and has no need for house security at all.  Assuming he rests his groin for the next week (insert Andruw Jones joke here) he’s in the 41/37 club, which is a thing I just made up, of course, but he’s in it.  And the amazing thing is, it’s almost as exclusive as the 40/40 club.  The 40/40 club has four members: Canseco, Bonds, Soriano and Rodriguez.  (Note that each of them has a drink named after them in the 40/40 Club.)  The 41/37 club, which I just made up, has only 5 members: the four previously named and Ronald Acuña Jr.  He made it!  Furthermore, even if he had gotten the 3 SB he needed to reach 40/40?  Well I can then create the 42/40 club, and in that case he still trails all four of the current members, all of whom had at least 42 homers.

Ignore for the moment that the pursuit of personal goals can easily hurt the team.  And ignore that playing a player with an ailing groin while you’re getting ready for the playoffs is suicidal.  Chasing a meaningless goal is…meaningless.  And, round numbers aside, there is very little more meaningless than the 40/40 Club.  Ronald Acuña Jr. has had a very good season.  It won’t be any better for having The Fuego (tequila, orange liqueur, pineapple juice, splash of cranberry) renamed the Acuña Smash. 

Bill James, in the 1980 Baseball Abstract, proposed a much better Power/Speed Number (PSN) than these arbitrary clubs: the harmonic mean of homers and stolen bases: 2 (HRxSB)/(HR+SB).  The clear advantage of this measure is that it doesn’t require the creation of arbitrary “clubs.”  By this measure, RAJ has a PSN of 38.9, the highest of 2019, and the 16th highest in baseball history.  (For 2019, Yelich is second at 35.7.  The only other Brave in the top 30 is Albies at 18.2.) 

Here are the top 20 seasons of all time:

Player HR SB Year PSN
Alex Rodriguez 42 46 1998 43.9
Alfonso Soriano 46 41 2006 43.4
Eric Davis 37 50 1987 42.5
Rickey Henderson 28 87 1986 42.4
Barry Bonds 42 40 1996 41.0
Jose Canseco 42 40 1988 41.0
Bobby Bonds 39 43 1973 40.9
Barry Bonds 33 52 1990 40.4
Eric Davis 27 80 1986 40.4
Alfonso Soriano 39 41 2002 40.0
Carlos Beltran 38 42 2004 39.9
Matt Kemp 39 40 2011 39.5
Vladimir Guerrero 39 40 2002 39.5
Larry Walker 49 33 1997 39.4
Rickey Henderson 28 65 1990 39.1
Ronald Acuna Jr. 41 37 2019 38.9
Bobby Bonds 37 41 1977 38.9
Barry Bonds 40 37 1997 38.4
Howard Johnson 36 41 1989 38.3
Ken Williams 39 37 1922 38.0

Note that doing it this way also easily allows you to adjust for caught stealing.  As a rule of thumb, two steals and a caught stealing are roughly a wash, so that we can recalculate the best power-speed seasons adjusting for caught stealing by subtracting two caught stealings for every steal before calculating the PSN.  At this point the top 20 look very different.  Indeed – only one member of the traditional 40/40 club makes the list at all: Bonds in 1996, at 11th.  And Yelich’s season this year comes in at tenth all-time.  RAJ, with his 9 CS, drops to 47th, and the best Braves performances of all time are Hank Aaron, 1963 (44 HR, 31 S, 5 CS, 28.4); Dale Murphy 1983 (36/30/4: 27.3);  Chipper Jones 1999 (45/25/3. 26.7); and then RAJ.

Eric Davis 37 50 1987 6 42.5 37.5
Carlos Beltran 38 42 2004 3 39.9 37.0
Eric Davis 27 80 1986 11 40.4 36.9
Rickey Henderson 28 87 1986 18 42.4 36.1
Rickey Henderson 28 65 1990 10 39.1 34.5
Bobby Bonds 32 45 1969 4 37.4 34.3
Rickey Henderson 24 80 1985 10 36.9 34.2
Mike Trout 30 49 2012 5 37.2 33.9
Joe Morgan 27 60 1976 9 37.2 32.9
Christian Yelich 44 30 2019 2 35.7 32.7
Barry Bonds 42 40 1996 7 41.0 32.1
Davey Lopes 28 44 1979 4 34.2 31.5
Joe Morgan 26 67 1973 15 37.5 30.5
Grady Sizemore 33 38 2008 5 35.3 30.3
Alfonso Soriano 36 30 2005 2 32.7 30.2
Bobby Abreu 30 40 2004 5 34.3 30.0
Howard Johnson 36 41 1989 8 38.3 29.6
Jimmy Rollins 30 41 2007 6 34.7 29.5
Harry Stovey 19 63 1889 n/c 29.2 29.2
Barry Bonds 33 52 1990 13 40.4 29.1

Soriano is an instructive example of the perils of chasing 40/40.  In 2005 he had one of the top 20 Net PSN numbers of all time: 26 homers, 30 SB and only 2 CS.  The next year, somebody whispered in his ear that he could have true immortality if made the 40/40 club, and he did: 46 homers and 41 SB.  But his quest seems to have ballooned his CS total to 17, making his Net PSN a less-than-great 12.2, 316th all time.  Ronald’s CS numbers were twice as high in the 2nd half – hard not to think that the chase for 40/40 was a factor.  Indeed, the best case for pulling out the stops to let him do it this year is that, falling just short, he’ll try again next year… and the year after that, no matter how many CS he piles up.

There have been 92,965 player-seasons in MLB.  The 16th, or even 47th, best season of all time is plenty good enough.  The top 50 is pretty damn good!  He’s also the youngest player on the basic list, though A-Rod was only a year older.  Rest up and get ready for the playoffs, Ronald.  You’re a really good base stealer with a lot of power, and we need you.

Recap:  A bullpen game as they move Soroka to the weekend.  The highlight was 8 Ks in a row from Newk, O’Day, and Luke.  The big offensive news is that Dansby had four hits and five solid contacts.  The first 4 hit game of his career. One swallow doth not a summer make, but it’s a start.  Another game or two like this and Dansby will definitely start over Hech. JD with three doubles.  We beat up on their bullpen. Overall, it’s no sin losing a season series to KC.  That George Brett, Dan Quisenberry and Amos Otis can play.

Note we’re now a game behind Minnesota for home field in the Rematch of 1991. They play KC and Detroit the rest of the regular season.

Chip Watch:  (a) Chip continues to think that adding a DH should make a team better, even though the other team gets a DH as well.  He said it again tonight: “We have trouble beating the Royals, even though we get a DH.”  He thinks the NL has an advantage in both AL and NL parks.  He also quixotically beats the drum for interleague play to operate on the visiting team’s rules “to familiarize fans with the way the game is played in the other league.”  There must be some other reason for this in Chip’s mind, right?  I hate to break this to you Chip: there’s this thing called TV in which fans can see how the game is played in the other league. I hear there’s even a thing called “announcers” whose job it is to explain how the game is played. I realize you’re busy and don’t get to watch that often, but it is possible, if you’re lucky, to watch the Braves on the road when they play in AL parks. (b) I’ll believe that Chip thinks that the current level of homers distorts the beauty of the game when he stops projecting a homer for every Braves player who comes to plate. (“Let’s see if Cervelli can tie up the game here.”)  

It’s been a lot of fun doing regular season recaps this year. Thanks for reading…. even those of you who dislike digressive preambles before the recap.

Author: JonathanF

Alive since 1956. Braves fan since 1966. The first ten years were pretty much wasted. Exiled to Yankees/Mets territory in 1974 --- bearable only with TBS followed by MLB.TV.

37 thoughts on “Royals dethroned: 10-2, but mostly 40/40 ruminations”

  1. Thanks so much JonathanF for this great recap and more.
    To all recappers, it has been and is so amazing what you have done this season. This is the go-to place day in day out for any serious Braves fan. Thank you.

    Question: at what time would you expect for NLDS game 2 in Atlanta to start? Clearly won’t be before 5pm, right? Does anyone know. It has not been announced yet, I guess. Trying to book a flight…

  2. Great recap, JF. And thank you for the Chip Watch. It makes his presence in the booth somewhat bearable to revel in these humorous recounts.

  3. Timo, given that Game 2 will be on a Friday night in Atlanta against a team in the Central Time Zone and there will also be a Dodgers game on TV that day, I’d guess it’d be 8:00 or 8:30, but looking at previous NLDS schedules makes it clear that it’s hard to predict for sure. There will also be two AL Games and the TV schedule will make it all pretty intricate.

  4. Thank you for your hard work. The order it appears in we may continue to contend happily but stolen bases sure beats Coca Cola! Cheers. were a day too soon, right! I had found myself starting to share those miserable nasty thoughts of a Cardinals sweep – watched them every day and they were so hot while we had flattened out.

    But what a difference one game can make to the psyche! Swanson will lead off for Acuna till fit, his last at bat was so sexy. JD back with 3 doubles, Cervelli out to a flying catch deep. Nick being Nick.

    What great timing for Thor and company to tune us up for Flaherty. We penitents!

  5. I have tickets to the Friday October 3 game as well. Because there are four games that day, I think it could start as early as 1:00. The network is much less likely to want our game to be in prime time than games involving the Yankees or the astros.

  6. Oh Yes!
    We’re the great contender
    Contending what we do so well
    Our needs not much
    We’ve the magic touch
    Excited as soon all will tell.

  7. Just noticed this statistical oddity. On a team that will win close to 100 games, Luke Jackson is 4th in Wins with 9. I’m sure Chip is obsessing over that.

  8. Luke Jackson: The Vulture. Oscar Villareal had 9 wins in 2006, too. Hence the nickname. So Luke Jackson has officially taken the mantle of The Vulture.

  9. @6–I meant to say Friday October 4 (the second game of the NLDS). The ALDS starts that day so that’s why I’m guessing the Braves will play a day game. As to game 1 of the NLDS on Thursday October 3, there are only the two NL games so the Braves game is more likely to be at night. Even then, though, the tv guys may wish to have the Dodgers-Nats in prime time.

  10. Last night’s game and the things we saw were monumental for a playoff run. If anyone wants to reflect on that, let me or Rob know and we can put up a post about it. I TOTALLY would but today is teaching, then gymnastics for my oldest, then dinner duty, then cleanup duty, then bath duty, the bedtime and book reading duty.

    My first time to sit down and write would be way too late, but the game was too important to not come with a large reflection.

  11. Allow me to push back slightly on the adjective “monumental.” Dansby and JD had a good day against a bad pitching staff. If I were convinced that that had durable effect, it would indeed be monumental. I’m encouraged, but I’m not yet convinced. (And just so I don’t appear thin-skinned, I know you’re not criticizing my recap here.)

  12. Whoever made the Spring Training comparison was right on. Cervelli at 1B, Hamilton in CF, Duvall in LF, yikes. 3-inning start that wasn’t ended by ineffectiveness. Six relievers.

    I love what’s going on right now. We’re figuring out what works while we have time to give. I’m not worried about when the bright lights turn on. If we’re not ready, that’s on Snit and the players. If they’re not ready to clobber St. Louis or Milwaukee’s starting pitching and win the first playoff series, then something went terribly off-course. In my opinion, there is a near-perfect blend of veterans with passion (Donaldson, Ender), emotionally stabilizing veterans (Freeman, Markakis, and McCann), youngsters with passion (Acuna, Albies), and youngsters that are middle of the road (Dansby, Riley) that make this a healthy team, so I don’t see the issue with them having their mindset right.

    And I’m sorry, but when your manager says something like, “we knocked on the door last year. This year, we’re gonna kick the motherf*cker in,” then you have to think that this team has the right mindset.

  13. Come on, Jonathan! If we’ve learned nothing else this week on Braves Journal, we’ve learned that every result during this relatively meaningless week is either monumental for our playoff run or evidence that we’re gonna get swept (not just beaten, but SWEPT) by the Cardinals (and are we still quite sure it’s gonna be them and not Milwaukee?) in the NLDS because we peaked too early.

    Somebody compared this week to spring training yesterday, and they’re very much right. Nothing that happens short of injuries is particularly important, yet everyone is over-analyzing everything.

    UPDATE: As a side note on Chip Watch, I’m surprised his head didn’t explode when we took the DH and put him in the field, thereby forcing the pitcher to hit.

  14. @15 (update). In this game, the decision to lose the DH had no impact, since there was no probability of running out of pinch hitters. But I was a little surprised he didn’t discuss it when Riley came in to play first. It was just one of those MANY things that didn’t make the Chip Watch. I have to be selective.

  15. @JF

    Right now, the playoff picture is a series of small samples whether we want it to be or not.

    And you’re correct. I’d never criticize your recaps, or anyone else’s for that matter! The variety of personal experience and writing styles are what makes this place.

  16. Today’s lessons:

    1. PSN is meaningful; 40/40 is not.

    2. When I feel the urge to spew my Chief-like grimness on Braves Journal, I should put the phone down, take a deep breath, and either have a beer or walk my dog. Or do both simultaneously.

  17. I would say there was a time for Chief-like grimness. When we were losing 95, 93, and 90 games, absolutely that was a time. I think when we’re going to win 97+ games is probably not the time, but I certainly don’t want anyone to feel like they can’t be pissed off on here. I and others may call you crazy, but I hope that isn’t taken for being not welcome.

    I had a prominent commenter leave the site and him and I traded some emails when I asked how he was doing and where he had gone. His overall thought to me was that Braves Journal had become too positive, or as he put it, we were “flexing too much during a hot streak” (our emails were in June and July). And… I don’t know what to say about that. Call me crazy, but I think it’s really weird to be negative about a team that won 92 games last year, 97+ this year, and looks to be really good for the foreseeable future. I don’t see our current run as a “hot streak”. And I certainly don’t think this place was too positive when we were losing said 95, 93, and 90 games. So, I actually just didn’t respond since I don’t think that’s something we were going to see eye to eye on.

    Where I guess I, personally, was too positive was when I had thought we had built up enough a prospect stash after the 2016 season that we could have cashed some in for some talent to help the 2017 season. That was probably a little premature, but in another universe, I still contend that we might have been able to re-allocate some payroll, deal some prospects that the future would tell us wouldn’t amount to anything, find some luck, win 80-85 games, and be playing meaningful baseball in September. If that’s being too positive, then, yeah, I guess so.

    I was certainly too positive about Cy Wisler, Sean Rodriguez, Luiz Gohara, and Mallex Smith, and I’ve been too negative on Mike Foltynewicz, especially after a lot of people had gotten their negativity about Folty out of their system.

    But like I said, I hope that my comments make you feel like an “editor” isn’t making you feel welcome, and if that’s the case, then I definitely apologize.

  18. I also have tickets to Game 2 of the NLDS next Friday and strongly suspect the start time will be afternoon (1 or 4 pm). The Dodgers game will be in LA and it would make sense to start that game 3-4 hours after first pitch of the Braves game.

  19. The start time Thursday is gonna be 4 p.m. at the earliest, and probably later, since there are only two games and one is a Dodgers home game in the Pacific time zone. It’s how I basically decided to buy Game 1 tickets instead of Game 2.

    The start time Friday is a complete crapshoot. It could be anywhere from 1 p.m. to 8:30-ish, so yeah…sorry to say, but good luck with that.

  20. I miss Sam. I kept thinking I was going to get to roll with him at some juijitsu workout at some point. I suppose that could still happen; it’s just less likely to be planned out on here.

  21. Sam is one of only two people on this website who have been invited to provide excellent commentary on other websites. He’s in rarified air.

    I actually wasn’t talking about Sam. I was actually talking about Adam R, who I miss dearly.

  22. Random playoffs thought…

    Is my memory playing tricks or did it become routine for us to fail to sell out home play off games around the nineties? People getting cynical about playing well in the regular season and then out we go?

  23. Being somewhat of a sentimental soul I feel badly when long established names here just disappear without explanation and providing no means of staying in touch with them. One isn’t asking for a reason why they left. And if it is to more studied climes then no chance to congratulate them.

    Bethany is the only one I can think of who went and years later came back albeit as an alter ego. It seems obvious she is enjoying herself, JD and all that!

    Chief made a token appearance on clinch night, Sam remains then a sad mystery. And where is Ububba, he who was driven to frenzy by Harper gouging his heel across the painted Braves logo at the Ted?

    Yes, you can come home again.

  24. Adam R enjoyed biblical word play.

    ‘Consider the lilies of the field, as they grow.’

    ‘Consider the Phillies in the field, as they throw.’

    It doesn’t get any better.

    He also was the clear winner when we ran a contest for a brief game review written in Chaucerian Ye Olde English. He admitted to being very proud of his entry, he had put in serious hours on it.


    ‘Solomon, in all his glory’
    ‘Papelbon, with all the gory.’

  25. @31

    Obvious maybe to you, Rob, from the inside, but not necessarily to the general readership. And how would we know whether a departure was voluntary or forced, would we be told if it was the latter? To not be leaves a taste of doubt, hanging around.

  26. @blazon
    I’m not going to speak for Rob, but I’ll say that there are several more people that have found courage to speak up since Rob stood his ground, and I’m proud of him for doing so. The comments on here remain civil since and that is the real victory.

  27. Adam R was so great. Braves Journal has at least as many retired jerseys as the bums at SunTrust Field! We’ve still got some Eddie Mathews and Phil Niekro-level talent on the board, with longtimers like JonathanF and Coop and Bethany and Rob and Ryan and tfloyd and Seat Painter and Rusty and Stu and kc and far too many more to mention.

    But there are so many Rabbit Maranvilles and Kid Nicholses and George Wrights who used to comment regularly! ububba, AtlCrackersFan, Stephen in the UAE, Adam M., mraver, W.C.G., Kyle S., ‘Rissa, jenny, spike, sansho1, and of course the entirely incomparable Alex R. (my namesake). (Oh, and, of course, JC Bradbury and Craig Calcaterra, who graduated to more public careers.)

    Many a legend has bent the elbow at this old bar, and it’s a pleasure and a privilege to raise the glass to you all.

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