'I’m proud of him': Thomas becomes sixth Nat to reach 20-20

September 25th, 2023

WASHINGTON -- In his third season with the Nationals, outfielder accomplished a milestone that had been done only five times in team history (2005-present).

Thomas reached 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases in a single season on Sunday, a feat that had gone unmatched since Bryce Harper in 2016.

Thomas went 2-for-5 with a home run, an RBI, two runs scored and one stolen base in the Nats’ 8-5 loss to the Braves in Game 2 of the split doubleheader at Nationals Park. This was the third game this season in which Thomas stole a base and hit a homer.

“I think it’s really cool,” Thomas said. “It’s one of those things you looked up, and you’re close to it. It’s not something you go out trying to do. You try to get a little bit better at the whole aspect of your game, and stuff like that happens.”

Thomas joins this select list of Nationals’ 20-20 seasons:

  • Alfonso Soriano (2006): 46 home runs, 41 stolen bases
  • Ian Desmond (2012): 25 home runs, 21 stolen bases
  • Desmond (2013): 20 home runs, 21 stolen bases
  • Desmond (2014): 24 home runs, 24 stolen bases
  • Bryce Harper (2016): 24 home runs, 21 stolen bases

Thomas is the 17th player in baseball (eighth in the National League) to reach 20-20 this season.

“That’s awesome,” said manager Dave Martinez. “I’ve talked about him all year; he’s just been very consistent, that guy that’s gone out there and played hard for us all year long. I’m proud of him. He’s made some huge strides. I think he’s going to get better as well.”

After going hitless in Game 1, Thomas robbed base No. 20 in the third inning of Game 2. He wasn’t intentionally chasing the mark, but he had been made aware of how close he was by his coaches. Thomas singled against Spencer Strider to get on base and, with CJ Abrams on third, he dashed to second in 4.01 seconds. Catcher Travis d’Arnaud held the ball and did not attempt a throw.

As Thomas reached safely, he immediately felt gratitude for the accomplishment.

“[The first thing that went through my head was] the people that help you get there,” Thomas said. “A lot of the coaches spent a lot of time with me in spring and throughout this year. E.Y. [Eric Young Jr.] and Tim Bogar and [Gary] DiSarcina, they build you up so much and talk some confidence into you that it pays off. It’s been cool to work with all of them.”

Thomas wasn’t done there, either. He knocked a solo dinger to left field off Raisel Iglesias in the ninth inning, bringing his season total to 27. This, against a 100-win Braves squad ramping up for what could be a deep playoff run. 

“You look out on the field at who you’re playing, it kind of humbles you a little bit,” Thomas said.

Thomas’ 2023 numbers are already a notable jump from 17 home runs and eight stolen bases last year, and he still could add to them by the time the Nats finish the season next Sunday in Atlanta. He isn’t chasing milestones, but his overall improved performance is making them possible. 

“He puts the time in before the games and works hard,” Martinez said. “Also, too, he has a lot of confidence. He started building his confidence, he feels like he’s an everyday player -- and he showed it this year.”