|Thunder and Lightning|
By Michael Sciarretta
Power-Plus and Thunder and Lightning are just two of the names given to a select group of players who are capable of generating offense via the home run or the stolen base. A great emphasis has been placed on this dual prowess in recent years. For a single season there is the 30 home run and 30 stolen base club, and for career accomplishments there is the 200 home run and 200 stolen base club. Dale Murphy joined the season club this year and Don Baylor the career group in 1982.
Avid baseball fans now have at their disposal a new way of measuring a player's combination of power and speed with the Power/Speed Number or PSN. Bill James, in his 1983 Baseball Abstract, developed the PSN by using the following formula:
2(HR x SB)
To demonstrate this formula, you will find that Dale Murphy, who had 36 home runs and 30 stolen bases in 1983, comes up with a Power/Speed Number of 32.7. This is good, but doesn't rank quite near the top for a season's effort. By this formula, it doesn't mean that both totals - home runs and stolen bases - have to be equally high. In 1973 for example, Joe Morgan of the Reds had 26 homers and 67 stolen bases for a PSN of 37.5. Willie Mays in 1955 had 51 fourbaggers and 24 thefts for a PSN of 32.6. Here are the season leaders (dominated by Bobby Bonds) who had PSNs of more than 30.
On a career level, Joe Morgan in 1983 ran his total home runs to 262 and thefts to 681. This gives him a career PSN of 378.4 and moves him past Henry Aaron (755-244 for 358.9) into third place behind the leader Willie Mays (660-338 for 447.1) and Bobby Bonds (332-461 for 386.0).
Murphy's balanced season totals of 36 homers and 30 steals raise the question about the most unbalanced totals. In the Lightning Only category, Alan Wiggins moved near the top in 1983 with no fourbaggers and 66 thefts. Only Maury Wills with 0 home runs and 94 steals in 1965 demonstrated a greater imbalance. In the Thunder Only department, Roger Mans did the ultimate in 1961 when he hit 61 roundtrippers and didn't steal a base. The season leaders in the two categories follow:
On a career basis, using players with at least 200 home runs or stolen bases, Frank Taveras is the Lightning Only leader with two fourbaggers and 300 steals. The Thunder Only is generated primarily by Dr. Strangeglove, Dick Stuart, who hit 228 homers and stole two bases.
It is always good to conclude on a balanced note. The final grouping in this brief analysis is the Double Negative category (some might call it dishonorable mention). These are players who had a season of play (more than 420 at bats) without hitting a home run or stealing a base.
Hal Lanier extended this seasonal nothingness into a ten-year career which included eight home runs and 11 stolen bases in 3703 at bats. In a longer career, Dick Groat was 39 and 14 in 7484 at bats.