Milwaukee Brewers’ Villar in rare speed-power club

Milwaukee Brewers Jonathan Villar is the third player in team history with 60 stolen bases in a season. Photo Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Milwaukee Brewers Jonathan Villar is the third player in team history with 60 stolen bases in a season. Photo Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /

The Milwaukee Brewers’ switch-hitting shortstop is in the presence of elite company when it comes to stolen bases and home runs.

Most people knew about Jonathan Villar’s blazing speed, though even the Milwaukee Brewers didn’t anticipate the power.

With three games left in the 2016 season, Villar is one homer shy of becoming just the fourth player in MLB history to have 60 steals and 20 home runs in one season.

Entering the final weekend, Villar has 19 homers and exactly 60 swipes. Technically, he is already in rare air, because only three other players even had 19 home runs and 60 steals in a season.

But, especially in baseball, people like round numbers.

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The 20/60 combo has been accomplished six different times by a pair of Hall of Famers and one of the best athletes to ever play the game.

Although what Villar is doing is certainly impressive, let’s be sure not to go too overboard in making comparisons.

For example, Rickey Henderson is the only player to turn the trick on three occasions. He even did it in back-to-back seasons (1985-86) with the New York Yankees.

The first time, Henderson stole 80 bases and hit 27 bombs. The following year he swiped 87 bags and blasted 28 long balls.

Then with the Oakland A’s in 1990, Henderson had only 65 steals to go with 28 homers. One catch, however, was that he did it in just 136 games that season.

Imagine Henderson playing another 20 contests, and you’re looking at the only 30-homer, 70-steal player in history.

Henderson’s 1990 campaign was the last time anyone reached these marks

Meanwhile, Joe Morgan was the first player to reach the 20/60 feat back in 1973. Morgan would also do it in 1976 as a part of the Cincinnati Reds‘ “Big Red Machine.”

Morgan hit 26 homers with 67 steals in 1973, then collected 27 dingers with exactly 60 swipes in the 1976 season.

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Milwaukee Brewers Jonathan Villar is 3rd on the team in HR behind Chris Carter and Ryan Braun. Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /

Another Reds’ star is the third player in this exclusive club, and he did it in 1986 like Henderson.

Eric Davis, who may have been the best pure power-speed guy to ever play, probably had the greatest version of this group.

In only 132 games, Davis stole 80 bases while hitting 27 home runs. Had he continued that pace over 150 games, Davis would have become a 90-steal, 30-home run stud.

Those are almost incomprehensible numbers.

So back to the Milwaukee Brewers and Villar. While he may not quite be in the highest tier of these statistics, it’s been a fantastic season for him.

First of all, he is going to win the stolen bases crown as he tops all of baseball. It will be just the second time the Milwaukee Brewers will have the stolen base leader.

Scott Podsednik stole an MLB-best 70 bags in 2004.

Speaking of the Brewers’ best thieves, Villar is only the 3rd player in club history to reach 60 swipes in a season. He joins Podsednik and franchise, single-season leader Tommy Harper who stole 73 in 1969.

Villar’s 2016 is especially impressive considering it’s his first season as a full-time starter. Prior to this year, he had never played in more than 87 games. He’s up to 153 in 2016 with three to go.

Villar’s incredible performance has made him an extremely valuable piece to the Brewers’ puzzle. Based on his 3.4 WAR (wins above replacement), he is the second-best player on the club behind Ryan Braun (4.4).

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While some may have thought Villar could be traded in the offseason if he had a decent year, it’s likely the Brewers hang on to him.

He made under $515,000 this season and he won’t see a big spike in arbitration until the 2018 campaign. Plus, he can’t be a free agent until after the 2021 season.

As of Friday morning, he was hitting .285 with a .369 OBP, .458 slugging percentage and an .827 OPS. That’s a ton of production for a steal of a price.

Next: Milwaukee Brewers: Chris Carter has shot at home run title

The question now for the Milwaukee Brewers is whether or not Villar can continue to perform at or near this level for more than one season. Professional baseball is littered with players who had one or two fantastic years, but did little else.