This season could go down as the year of the home run, with a record number of long balls all but guaranteed to be hit. But 2019 also just might bring about the first 60-double season in a long time. Like, a really, really long time.
In fact, fittingly enough, we could see not one, but two. That’s right: The big six-oh mark is within reach for a pair of players. Talk about a double threat.
Corner outfielder Nicholas Castellanos, acquired by the Cubs from the Tigers at the Trade Deadline, has 44 two-baggers after getting one Thursday night. And Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers -- who became the first player on record to go 6-for-6 with four doubles Tuesday -- has 43.
That puts the double-hitting duo on pace for 59 and 57, respectively, based on the number of remaining games for Chicago (41) and Boston (39).
That's impressive, especially when you consider that a 60-double season is actually more rare than a 60-homer season.
That's right, in the long history of Major League Baseball, there have been only eight 60-home run campaigns, achieved by five different players. You know their names: Babe Ruth, Roger Maris, Mark McGwire (twice), Sammy Sosa (thrice) and Barry Bonds.
That’s really rare -- enough that you probably know the years each of those sluggers smashed 60, right?
OK, now how many 60-double seasons have there been? Try six. And if you can name any of the half-dozen players to reach that total, well, there’s a good chance you’re either a nonagenarian or a baseball historian.
60-Double Seasons in MLB History, by Total
67: Earl Webb, 1931 Red Sox
64: Joe Medwick, 1936 Cardinals
64: George Burns, 1926 Indians
63: Hank Greenberg, 1934 Tigers
62: Paul Waner, 1932 Pirates
60: Charlie Gehringer, 1936 Tigers
You’ll notice that all six such seasons happened between 1926 and 1936, meaning it’s been a whopping 83 years (eighty-three!) since someone has done that much doubles damage.
Compare that to the last time someone hit 60 long balls: 2001, when both Bonds (a single-season-record 73) and Sosa (64, the third 60-homer effort of his career) pulled it off "just" 18 years ago.
Remember around this time two years ago, Giancarlo Stanton captivated the baseball world as the then-Marlins slugger chased that magical mark in the second half. Yes, he memorably fell one dinger shy, but Stanton’s quest became something of a nightly did-he-homer check-in.
Well, folks, if the 60 Home Run Club is exclusive, by comparison the 60 Double Club is downright dormant. So shouldn’t Castellanos' and Devers’ dual quest to resuscitate an even rarer and less frequent feat warrant a similar level attention? Not to mention, unlike Stanton's solo race for 60, this is a down-the-stretch duel between two players, both of whom are on contending clubs.
Sure, every handful of years or so, a player comes along who gets out to a fast start with a few dozen doubles or so in the first half of a season, bringing a little bit of buzz to the possibility that someone new dares to get to 60. They’ve all ultimately fallen short, though.
For example, Indians spark plug Jose Ramirez racked up 56 two-baggers in 2017, making him only the eighth player since 2000 to reach even 55 in a season. That number is rather rare in and of itself, too: Between George Kell’s 56 doubles in 1950 and Craig Biggio’s matching total in 1999 -- a span of 49 years! -- not a single player doubled 55 times.
History, however, might provide some hope. Consider: For as rare as 60 doubles is, what’s fascinating is that the most (ahem) recent year in which anyone hit the mark (1936) also is the only season in which multiple players -- Medwick (64) and Gehringer (60) -- did so.
How crazy would it be to see Castellanos and Devers repeat that dual 60-doubles feat 83 years later? The countdown officially is on.