Dodgers minor league outfielder and highly-rated prospect Joc Pederson is closing in on the first 30-30 season in the Pacific Coast League since 1934.
Joc Pederson on Tuesday night hit his 27th home run of the season for Triple-A Albuquerque, a game-tying solo shot in the eighth inning against Memphis.
Pederson on the season is hitting .302/.425/.568 with 27 home runs and 26 stolen bases in 105 games for the Isotopes. With 19 games remaining in the minor league season, he has a good chance at becoming the first Pacific Coast League player in 80 years to finish with 30 home runs and 30 steals in the same season.
The reason a 30-30 season rarely happens at any level in the minors is obvious. Usually, a player good enough to amass such numbers gets promoted to the next rung on the ladder. For Pederson, that next step is the major leagues but the Dodgers have over $59 million worth of outfielders already on the roster, so in Albuquerque he stays.
Most recent PCL 20-20 seasons
Salt Lake (Ana)
Oklahoma City (Tex)
Las Vegas (LA)
Las Vegas (SD)
George Springer of the Astros in 2013 hit 37 home runs and stole 45 bases but that was across two levels, with 19 home runs and 23 steals in 73 games in Double-A Corpus Christi and 18 home runs and 22 steals in 62 games with Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Even 20-20 seasons are rare in the PCL. Springer came close last season in just 62 games, but the last player in the league to reach 20-20 status was Terry Evans for Salt Lake, hitting 26 home runs and stealing 28 bases for the Angels' affiliate in 2009.
Antonio Perez, also known as the other guy in the Andre Ethier-for-Milton Bradley trade, was the last Dodgers 20-20 player in Triple-A, with 22 home runs and 22 steals for Las Vegas in 2004.
There have been 13 different 20-20 seasons in the PCL in the last 30 years, including just three years of 25-25.
The last 30-30 player in the PCL was Frank Demaree, who hit 45 home runs and stole 41 bases in 1934 for the Los Angeles Angels. Demaree played in 186 games that season, back when many minor league teams were independent and, with no other professional baseball west of St. Louis, outdrew some major league clubs.
The Angels in 1934 were affiliated with the Cubs, and Demaree was a 24-year-old right-handed outfielder who already had a full big league season under his belt. He made his big league debut in 1932, appearing in 23 games for the pennant-winning Cubs and even homered in the World Series. After hitting .272/.304/.377 in a full season in 1933, Demaree was sent down for the 1934 campaign, which turned out to be historic.
The 1934 Angels won 137 games and easily captured the league championship by 35½ games over the second-place Missions. Without a doubt, it was the 1934 season that later earned Demaree his Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame status. In a book, authors Bill Weiss and Marshall Wright selected the 1934 Angels as the greatest minor-league team in the 20th century and Demaree (pictured on the cover of the book) as its top player. Appearing in 186 games, Demaree led the league in runs scored (190), hits (269), home runs (45), RBIs (173), and batting average (.383). He is the only PCL player (as of 2010) to have hit 45 home runs and stolen 41 bases in the same season. He was voted the league’s Most Valuable Player, edging out teammate Fay Thomas, a pitcher who had a 28-4 record.
Demaree would ultimately play 12 years in the big leagues, finishing with a lifetime batting average of .299469, and was named an All-Star in 1936 and 1937. But after his power-speed display in the minors he would never hit more than 17 home runs nor steal more than six bases in any single major league season.
The other two 30-30 men in PCL history did so in the same schedule-inflated era. Lefty O'Doul had 33 home runs and 40 steals in 189 games for the San Francisco Seals in 1927, and Tony Lazerri had 60 home runs and 39 steals in 197 games for the Salt Lake City Bees in 1925.
I don't have game logs for each of these seasons, but none of these three players over the pace of the 144 games in Albuquerque's 2014 schedule would have reached 30-30. Demaree came the closest, as his 187-game schedule numbers reduce to 32 home runs and 29 steals.