Juan of a Kind
Upon hearing that the Philadelphia Phillies named Juan Samuel to its Wall of Fame, I was upset. No, that is the wrong word…perplexed. This wall should display the best of the best, the cream of the crop. So, why would the Phills name a player who only played six and a half years of his career here to its Wall of Fame? It is quite simple.
In his first full season with the Phils in 1984, Samuel set the organizations single-season and rookie records with 72 stolen bases. The 23 year old also collected 105 runs and 191 hits, 19 being triples. His name had been stirring around in 2007 when Rollins broke Samuel’s team triples record (19) and at-bats record (701). And now more than ever we talk about a player’s combination of power and speed, the illustrious 30-30 club and now 40-40 club.
But Samuel did something that Rickey Henderson, Lou Brock, Billy Hamilton, Ty Cobb nor Tim Raines ever accomplished. In fact while Samuel currently ranks 68th all-time in total stolen bases, he did something that none of the 67 players that rank above him ever did. In the four years from 1984-1987, Juan Samuel hit at least 30 doubles, 15 home runs, and 12 triples while stealing at least 35 stolen bases in each season.
None of the top players that come to mind when we talk about power and speed in the old days nor the new breed have accomplished this feat, not Bonds, Aaron, Dimaggio, Ruth and Rose…not even Soriano, Ramirez, Sheffield, Rodriguez, Jeter, Ichiro nor Rollins. None of these players ever hit 30-15-12 while stealing 35 stolen bases in four consecutive years.
I think this last farewell to Samuel is much overdue to someone who truly is Juan of a Kind.