On Saturday night, MLB star Shohei Ohtani added yet another feather to his proverbial cap.
Because Ohtani had already notched 41 home runs in 2021 going into Saturday’s game, that placed him squarely in the 40-20 club, a rare feat to be achieved this early in the season.
Could Ohtani be one of the next players to achieve the ultra-rare 40-40 season in Major League Baseball? With so many achievements under his belt already, it certainly seems possible, even if it doesn’t happen this year.
What is the 40-20 club in baseball?
Ohtani’s impressive performance so far this year puts him in the 40-20 club, which signifies that a player has recorded 40 home runs and 20 stolen bases within a single season.
Membership in this club is relatively rare, especially with over a month left in the regular season. In fact, the only other Major League players to notch a 40-20 season before September 1 are Ken Griffey Jr. in 1999 and Alex Rodriguez in 2007, according to MLB.com.
Overall, Baseball Reference’s Stathead tool places Ohtani as the only the 32nd player to ever achieve a 40-20 season.
He’s also only the fourth player to have a 40-20 season since 2010, joining Curtis Granderson in 2011, Ryan Braun in 2012, and Christian Yelich and Ronald Acuña Jr. in 2019.
Other home run clubs
Of course, Ohtani could go beyond the 40-20 club at this point. There’s just over a month left in the 2021 regular season, which ends on Sunday, October 3.
That means it’s unlikely — but not impossible — for the MLB All-Star to join an even more exclusive group: the 40-40 club.
That would require a total of 40 homers and 40 stolen bases in a single season.
This ultra-rare feat has only been achieved by four players in all MLB history:
- Alfonso Soriano in 2006 for the Nationals
- Alex Rodriguez in 1998 for the Mariners
- Barry Bonds in 1996 for the Giants
- Jose Canseco in 1988 for the Athletics
While Ohtani has already hit over 40 dingers this season, he’d need to steal 20 more bases to get into the 40-40 club, which would be difficult considering how little time is left in the season.
But there’s another option for Ohtani: the 30-30 club.
There have been many more instances of players hitting 30 homers and stealing 30 bases in a single season. It’s still a very impressive achievement, but not nearly as rare as the 40-40 club. Some notable members over the last decade include Matt Kemp (2011), Mike Trout (2012), Mookie Betts (2018), and Jose Ramirez (2018).
The 40-40 and 30-30 clubs are joined by other statistical clubs in baseball which involve home runs, including:
- 20-20-20 club: Players who have recorded at least 20 doubles, 20 triples, and 20 home runs in a single season.
- 20-20-20 club: Players who have recorded at least 20 doubles, 20 triples, 20 home runs, and 20 stolen bases in a single season.
- 50 home run club: Players with at least 50 home runs in a single season.
- 500 home run club: Players with at least 500 regular season home runs over the course of their entire professional career.
The 40-20 effect
As evidenced by Ohtani, having a 40-20 player on your team doesn’t equal success.
The Angels have had a lackluster year so far, racking up about the same number of wins as losses.
Despite being a .500 team, the Angels continue to draw media attention week after week, mostly due to Ohtani’s exceptional abilities. His outstanding performance as both a pitcher and a hitter is unique, and has put him in the running for AL MVP this year.
When Alex Rodriguez notched his 40-20 season in 2007 while playing for the New York Yankees, it had a similar effect on his personal cachet as a player.
Rodriguez was announced as the AL MVP that same year. He also won the Silver Slugger Award and the Players Choice Award for Player of the Year.
However, the Yankees as a team didn’t fare all that well. They ended the full season with a record of 94-68, but ended up losing to the Cleveland Indians 3-1 in the 2007 American League Division Series.
So while Ohtani might have some exciting accolades to look forward to at the end of this season, his 40-20 club accomplishment doesn’t necessarily mean the Angels have a shot at a World Series run.