Baseball fans of a certain age remember when the shortstop position changed. It may be happening again.In the late 1990s and early 2000s, a power boom changed how the position was viewed. Yes, it was an offensive era all over baseball, but no position was more emblematic than shortstop. That
Baseball fans of a certain age remember when the shortstop position changed. It may be happening again.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, a power boom changed how the position was viewed. Yes, it was an offensive era all over baseball, but no position was more emblematic than shortstop. That faded for a bit over the past 10-15 years, but we may be entering another era of big-time offense at the infield's premier defensive position.
Trevor Story, Manny Machado, and Francisco Lindor have all hit 30 or more home runs this year, the first trio to do so in the same season since 2001 (Rich Aurilia, Miguel Tejada, Alex Rodriguez). And while Machado may be the position's glamor boy, it's Story and Lindor who are on the verge of making history in multiple ways.
On Tuesday, Lindor posted the sixth 30-homer, 40-double season by a shortstop (minimum: 75 percent of games played at SS) in Major League history. Oh, by the way, it was the second straight year he had done so, making him the first shortstop ever to do it twice. The only other players to do it once? Tejada, Nomar Garciaparra, Rodriguez, and Cal Ripken Jr. For now.
Because that small group is about to get more company. Story, who crushed three homers on Wednesday, now has 31 to go with 39 doubles. With his next double, he'll become the first shortstop ever to go 30-40 in the National League. It will also be the third such season in the past two years, after there were four in the history of the game through 2016.
As with their 1990s analogs, though, power is not all that Lindor and Story can do. They're both closing in on an even rarer feat. In fact, an unprecedented one.
Story has 25 stolen bases. Lindor has 22. With Story's next double, he'll become the first shortstop in history with 30 homers, 40 doubles, and 25 steals in the same season, unless Lindor beats him to it. With three steals, Lindor will join -- or create -- that exclusive club.
That's right. In the history of the game, it's never happened. By the end of the season, it will probably happen twice.
Matthew Leach is the National League executive editor for MLB.com.