ST. LOUIS -- It seems fitting that a year in which Tommy Pham finally found a fix for his chronic vision problems will now also feature on-field success defined by the same figure: 20/20.Pham became the sixth player in Cardinals franchise history to steal 20 bases and hit 20 homers
ST. LOUIS -- It seems fitting that a year in which Tommy Pham finally found a fix for his chronic vision problems will now also feature on-field success defined by the same figure: 20/20.
Pham became the sixth player in Cardinals franchise history to steal 20 bases and hit 20 homers in a single season, and he reached both plateaus within the same afternoon. Using his speed and his swing to spark a pair of two-run innings, Pham also turned his milestone day into a needed boost for the Cardinals, who notched a 5-2 win over the Reds at Busch Stadium on Thursday.
"With everything I've gone through this year, to go out and have a 20-20 season is a proud moment for myself," Pham said. "I wrote this down in 2012 that I could be a 20-20 player in the big leagues. Everything I'm doing now is something I've always believed I could do. It's just no one else believed it."
Certainly few would have expected it six months ago when Pham was optioned to Minor League camp after a subpar spring showing at the plate. But in the weeks that followed, Pham corrected his sight, rediscovered his swing and then provided instant production when injuries opened a spot for him on the Major League roster on May 3.
Pham's first three homers of the season came in those first three games. He became a priority player in the Cardinals' lineup soon after.
"He went down early in the year and knew what he had to do to get back and join us and help us," manager Mike Matheny said. "And there's been no looking back."
Pham took care of the 20 steals first on Thursday when he swiped a pair of bases in the third to set up a two-out RBI opportunity for Jose Martinez. Two innings later, Pham crushed his 20th homer. The two-run shot off Reds starter Amir Garrett traveled a Statcast-estimated 381 feet before landing in the right-center-field stands.
Reggie Sanders, back in 2004, had been the last Cardinal to attain 20-20 status. Prior to Sanders, only Lou Brock, Ray Lankford, Brian Jordan and Fernando Tatis had achieved the feat. Lankford did so in five different seasons with St. Louis.
"It's good to make history, because you can't take that from me," Pham said. "But there are still a lot of games left, so I'm trying to finish strong."
Pham said he now turns his sights to the possibility of reaching the 25-25 mark. And that's not it. He hasn't forgotten a challenge from catcher Yadier Molina back when things looked bleak in spring. Pham wagered he could hit 20 homers, steal 20 bases and finish the season with a batting average of .300 or higher.
If Pham, who will carry a .306 batting average into the team's final 16 games, can hit on that final mark, he'll be collecting a watch from Molina.
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter, and Facebook.