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Corbin Carroll becomes first rookie to post 25 HR/50 SB season

I think the Rookie of the Year title is in the bag now.

San Francisco Giants v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

If you look at the list of players who have had seasons with 25 home-runs and 50 stolen-bases, there are some renowned names there. Indeed, of the seven different players to have done it before this year - the Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr beat Carroll to the punch - three are in the Hall of Fame. Rickey Henderson, Joe Morgan and Ryne Sandberg are all in Cooperstown, and Barry Bonds would be a fourth, if hadn’t been such a dick. Of course, there’s a long way to go before we can find out Carroll’s ultimate fate. But what we do know is, he is the first rookie ever to accomplish the feat, and is also the youngest in fifty years, since César Cedeño became the first, during his age 22 season, in 1973.

Here are the numbers for all the players to have accomplished the feat since then.

25 HR, 50 SB seasons

Season Player HR SB Age Team G PA BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
Season Player HR SB Age Team G PA BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
1973 César Cedeño 25 56 22 HOU 139 576 .320 .376 .537 .913 152
1973 Joe Morgan 26 67 29 CIN 157 698 .290 .406 .493 .899 154
1974 César Cedeño 26 57 23 HOU 160 688 .269 .338 .461 .799 128
1976 Joe Morgan 27 60 32 CIN 141 599 .320 .444 .576 1.020 187
1985 Ryne Sandberg 26 54 25 CHC 153 673 .305 .364 .504 .868 132
1986 Eric Davis 27 80 24 CIN 132 487 .277 .378 .523 .901 143
1986 Rickey Henderson 28 87 27 NYY 153 701 .263 .358 .469 .827 125
1987 Eric Davis 37 50 25 CIN 129 562 .293 .399 .593 .991 155
1990 Barry Bonds 33 52 25 PIT 151 621 .301 .406 .565 .970 170
1990 Rickey Henderson 28 65 31 OAK 136 594 .325 .439 .577 1.016 189
2007 Hanley Ramírez 29 51 23 FLA 154 706 .332 .386 .562 .948 145
2023 Ronald Acuña Jr. 39 67 25 ATL 149 694 .338 .418 .596 1.014 169
2023 Corbin Carroll 25 50 22 ARI 147 532 .286 .363 .511 .874 135

It’s hard to say which of the two components is the most impressive, but in terms of D-backs history, I think it’s probably the stolen bases. The team has seen plenty of players reach 25 home-runs before, and Carroll isn’t even the youngest to do so. Justin Upton hit 26 home-runs in 2009, at age 21, though obviously, that was not his rookie season. In terms of Arizona rookies, two players have previously achieved that mark. Chris Young hit 32 in his rookie campaign of 2007 as a 23-year-old, and Christian Walker had 26 home-runs in 2019, though he was late to the party, still being considered a rookie at age 29 - mostly due to being blocked at first-base throughout his career. That was FIVE years after his debut.

But fifty stolen bases? No Diamondbacks’ rookie had reached even thirty before Carroll showed up - Young had the previous best mark of 27. Jake McCarthy’s 23 last year is the only other rookie to reach twenty SB, and there are just three to have even 10 (Luis Terrero, A.J. Pollock and Tim Locastro). Across the entire history of the franchise, regardless of age or status, the only fifty SB campaigns belong to Eric Byrnes, who swiped exactly 50 in 2007, and Tony Womack who swiped 72 in 1999. Carroll’s success rate of 90.9% is above both Byrnes (87.7%) and Womack (84.7%). Though the MLB rate is also up this year, probably due to the new limits on throwing over.

It seems almost certain Carroll will become the 2023 Rookie of the Year, bringing the honor to Arizona for the first time. But the question of whether he has had the best rookie season remains to be answered. Among position players, there is no competition. Corbin came into play today at 5,0 bWAR, a figure which is sure to go up after his four hits, including a home-run, and pair of stolen bases. But it’s already more than half as much again as any other rookie position player here, the next most being Ender Inciarte’s 3.3 bWAR in 2014. However, we certainly cannot forget pitching, and in particular Brandon Webb’s 2003 campaign, which probably should have been our first Rookie of the Year.

Webb even managed to do it, without making the Opening Day roster. He didn’t appear until game #20, coming out of the bullpen in Montreal on April 22. Five days later, against the Mets in New York, he tossed seven scoreless innings of three-hit ball with ten strikeouts, and he was off to the races. In 28 starts, he threw seven-plus innings more often than not (15 times) and compiled a sparkling 2.84 ERA across 180.2 innings, being worth 6.1 bWAR. The problem was, the 2003 D-backs weren’t very good. A dozen times, Brandon got two or fewer runs in support, leaving him with a lackluster 10-9 record. And this was back in the day when BBWAA voters paid attention to W-L.

Brandon lost the award to Dontrelle Willis, who had a FAR worse ERA+ (127 vs. 165) and threw 20 innings fewer, leading to a bWAR of only 3.9. But Willis owned a 14-6 record, and got 17 of the 32 first-place votes. Adding insult to injury, Webb wasn’t even runner-up, but finished third behind future (briefly - as in, for two days!) Diamondback Scott Podsednik and his 3.6 bWAR. It has to go down as one of the worst miscarriages in BBWAA voting since the D-backs entered the league. I trust there will be no such repeat this season. However, with the usual difficulties of comparing pitching and hitting, please use the comments to tell us who is Arizona’s best rookie ever...