Call them The New Breed. Jose Canseco, Darryl Strawberry, Eric Davis and friends.
Bigger and stronger than ever, on the cutting edge of baseball's future."It's noticeable," said Los Angeles general manager Fred Claire. "You look around at every team and they've all got players of that kind."
Consider this: before 1987, only six different players had hit 30 home runs and stolen 30 bases in the same season. In the last two years, five people have done it.
Canseco, Strawberry, Davis, Joe Carter and Howard Johnson recently got into the club. Bo Jackson, Ellis Burks, Kevin McReynolds, Kal Daniels and Andy Van Slyke, all in their 20s, could soon join them.
"It's just one of those things," scoffs Boston general manager Lou Gorman. "People are always putting a label on those things, but those trends just come and go."
Or, as Mickey Mantle joked to Canseco at an off-season dinner about hitting 40 homers and stealing 40 bases in the same season: "If I'd known it was going to be such a big deal, I would've done it a half-dozen times."
But Mantle never got anywhere near those numbers. The closest he came was in 1959, when he hit 30 homers and stole a career-high 21 bases.
Canseco made that look puny last year, hitting 42 home runs and stealing 40 bases. He became the first 40-40 member and hinted that 50-50 might be on the horizon.
Canseco is the product of an Oakland organization that seeks sluggers and sprinters.
"We're looking for guys who can hit the ball out of the ballpark. We need speed, too," Athletics general manager Sandy Alderson said. "We draft for that."
The Athletics were the only organization last year to have a player with at least 10 home runs and 10 stolen bases at five different levels - majors, Triple-A, Double-A, high A and low A.
Among them was Canseco's twin brother, Ozzie. He hit 12 homers and stole 13 bases in 99 games at Class A Madison before moving up to Class AA Huntsville.
"I would say I'm a little stronger in certain areas and I'm faster," Jose said. "But he's still developing."
Why the sudden surge throughout baseball? Unlike in football and track, steroids have not been suspected of being behind the bulking up in baseball. Canseco was taunted by Boston fans during the playoffs last year, but he has denied using steroids and most observers feel that baseball players simply had more room for improvement in the area of bodybuilding.
"The philosophy has changed," said Carter, a 30-30 man with Cleveland in 1987. "Back in the 1950s and 1960s, nobody did weights. Now, if you don't use them, people look at you and wonder why not."
More attention to training and improved techniques produce better ballplayers.
Of course, it's possible to overdo it: Detroit's Matt Nokes thinks he may have bulked up too much after his rookie season, and his power numbers went down. The same thing happened a decade earlier to Jason Thompson, who found new muscles but lost his old, productive swing.
Big money is starting to lure bigger players who might otherwise have chosen football in college.
"If the salaries aren't an inspiration, I don't know what is," Claire said. "I think that's part of the reason baseball is beginning to attract some of the better athletes."
Said Carter: "Bo Jackson had a lot to do with that. People saw you could play both sports and more players are trying to do it."
Jackson hit 25 home runs and stole 27 bases for Kansas City last season.
No one is predicting the same success for Deion Sanders, an All-American defensive back at Florida State and certain first-round pick in the upcoming NFL draft. But Sanders decided to attend spring training with the New York Yankees and keep his options open.
Here's another reason for the new look. The brand of baseball has changed and teams are putting more emphasis on players with power and speed, instead of just one of those skills.
That's true particularly for outfielders, the group most likely to reach 30-30. Johnson is the only non-outfielder to reach those marks.
In 1940, when six-foot players were the exception rather than the rule, American League outfielders averaged 12 home runs and eight stolen bases each. In 1960, when power dominated, it was 17 home runs and seven stolen bases, according to Baseball America magazine.
By 1980, when teams wanted strength and speed, starting AL outfielders averaged 13 home runs and 13 stolen bases, with slightly more steals.
But like Gorman, not everyone sees a trend or agrees with the numbers.
"I don't think there are any more like that now than when I started playing," Pete Rose said. "We always had Willie Mays and Hank Aaron."
"Who can do it now? You have to consider guys who have already hit 30 home runs. There aren't that many," he said. "And in the American League, you have a lot of big guys who can't run."
Mays got to 30-30 twice and Aaron just once. Ken Williams was the first to do it, in 1922 with the St. Louis Browns, and no one got there again until Mays in 1956.
Bobby Bonds is the all-time 30-30 leader, reaching those levels in five seasons. But his record could be in jeopardy as the new breed takes over.
"Guys are bigger and stronger," Alderson said, "and there are going to be more of them."