Mullins at 20-20; 30-30? 'It's very possible'

August 8th, 2021

BALTIMORE -- In 67 seasons of Orioles baseball, no player has joined the esteemed 30-30 club, reserved for the 40 Major Leaguers who’ve compiled 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases in a season. But is eyeing those ranks.

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Mullins took the next step in what continues to be a sensational breakout year for the center fielder, using Sunday’s 9-6 loss to the Rays at Camden Yards to become the seventh player in Orioles history to achieve a 20-20 season. Mullins’ first-pitch leadoff homer off Michael Wacha was his 20th of the season; he has also stolen 21 bases in 28 attempts. Padres star Fernando Tatis Jr. is the only other player in the 20-20 club this season.

“Once again, he’s just doing everything,” manager Brandon Hyde said.

Said Mullins: “It means everything to join a prestigious group like the 20-20 club at the big league level. It’s something I’ll really cherish forever.”

The seven Orioles players to go 20-20 have done it nine times, led by three times by Brady Anderson (21 homers and 53 steals in 1992, 50 homers and 21 steals in '96, 24 homers and 36 steals in '99). Paul Blair (26 homers and 20 steals in '69), Don Baylor (25 homers and 32 steals in ‘75), Reggie Jackson (27 homers and 28 steals in ‘76), Manny Machado (35 homers and 20 steals in ‘15) and Jonathan Villar (24 homers and 40 steals in '19) are the others.

Now that group includes Mullins, who earned his first American League All-Star honor this summer and isn’t slowing down in the second half. His homer Sunday extended his hitting streak to 16 games, the longest active streak in the Majors and the longest of his career. He’s hitting .359 with eight extra-base hits during that stretch, and his 133 total hits are second behind the Padres’ Adam Frazier for the Major League lead. Only one Oriole has led the AL in hits in a season: Cal Ripken Jr., with 211 in 1983.

Mullins has 52 games to reach the 30-30 club, a goal he considers attainable. The last big leaguers to do so were the Brewers' Christian Yelich (44 homers, 30 steals) and the Braves' Ronald Acuna Jr. (41 homers, 37 steals) in 2019.

“It’s very possible,” Mullins said. “There is still some time left. I’m feeling good at the plate, relaxed and comfortable. I’m taking good swings, and when I’m on the bases, I’m still trying to create situations for our guys to see some pitches, wreak havoc on the basepaths and put pressure on the other team.”

“He’s been the MVP for us,” right-hander Jorge López said. “He’s that guy where he has all the tools and he just uses them every day. He’s so fun.”

Mullins’ contributions Sunday came amid the Orioles’ 11th loss in 12 games against the Rays this season, after their bullpen yielded six runs in the eighth. Anthony Santander also homered as part of a three-hit day in support of López, who was in line to win his second consecutive start before Tampa Bay’s eighth-inning rally, which was capped by Brett Phillips’ go-ahead grand slam off Dillon Tate. The O’s ‘pen allowed 16 eighth-inning runs over the three-game series in their third sweep at the hands of the Rays in 2021.

“Like I said for three years now, sometimes our guys do it and sometimes they don’t. That’s why we have a ton of losses like this,” Hyde said. “The whole room in there is disappointed, discouraged, because we are so inconsistent in our bullpen. It’s disappointing. Sometimes our guys are pretty good out there, and sometimes we’re not.”