There is something special about a player that can beat you both with his legs and the power in his bat. This is beyond the arbitrary fascination with the 30-30 season. The excitement of a player who can "do it all" on the baseball field really seems to capture the imagination of fans. Perhaps it is because it opens us up to the belief that anything is possible? Or maybe we just like players who are athletic bad-asses?
Here are the top 5 seasons of combined power and speed in Reds history:
1. Eric Davis - 1987 - 37 HR, .593 SLG, 50 SB, 6 CS, 89.3% stolen base rate
As a 25-year old, Davis wowed the baseball world and almost became the first 40-40 player in baseball history. His .593 SLG is the highest by a player with 50 SB since George Sisler slugged .594 with 51 SB in 1922. Of course, Sisler was caught stealing 19 times that year (72.8%). Davis was safe on nearly 90% of his steal attempts. Yowza!
2. Joe Morgan - 1976 - 27 HR, .576 SLG, 60 SB, 9 CS, 87.0% stolen base rate
In perhaps the greatest all-around season in the history of baseball (Little Joe batted .320 with a .440 OBP and won a gold glove at 2B), Morgan won his second consecutive MVP award for the Reds. His home runs were the 5th most in the NL and he was 2nd in stolen bases. Probably the most impressive thing was that the 5'7" Morgan led the NL in Slugging percentage by 46 points. He could have hit 5 fewer home runs and still led the league in slugging. And he stole 60 bases!!
3. Eric Davis - 1986 - 27 HR, .523 SLG, 80 SB, 11 CS, 87.9% stolen base rate
This is probably my favorite individual season by a Red in my lifetime. Two players in baseball history have stolen 80 bases and hit 25 or more home runs in the same season, and they both happened in the same year. Rickey Henderson's counting stats were slightly better in 1986, mainly because he played 21 more games, topping Davis with 87 SB and 28 HR. Davis outslugged Henderson though .523 to .469, and his stolen base rat of 87.9% was better than Henderson's measly 82.9%. I love Eric Davis. I really do.
4. Reggie Sanders - 1995 - 28 HR, .579 SLG, 36 SB, 12 CS, 75.0% stolen base rate
You know, because he struggled so much in the post-season, it's easy to forget what a good season Reggie Sanders had in 1995. He was coming into his prime that year and put up a .306/.397/.579 season, perhaps deserving the NL MVP even more than Barry Larkin did. He finished 6th in MVP voting that year, a year that ended up being the peak for his career, but a pretty nice peak it was in a very solid overall career.
5. Barry Larkin - 1996 - 33 HR, .567 SLG, 36 SB, 10 CS, 78.3% stolen base rate
In a strange sequence of events, Larkin improved on his MVP 1995 season the following year, but actually finished 12th in the MVP voting. Ken Caminiti won the award in 1996, though Barry Bonds likely has the biggest complaint as he had his best non-steroids season of his career (10.8 WAR!), but finished in 6th in voting. Larkin's season is historically significant because it was the first 30-30 season by an everyday middle infielder in baseball history. Again, 30-30 is an arbitrary cutoff point, but when it supports a guy I'm a fan of, IT'S THE MOST IMPORTANT NUMBER IN THE WORLD!!!!
Now it's your turn? Which season was your favorite? Who did I leave off the list that should be there?