Villar one homer shy of exclusive 20-60 club

Brewers' leadoff man opens loss to Rangers with 19th jack

Villar one homer shy of exclusive 20-60 club

ARLINGTON -- Nineteen down, one to go.

Jonathan Villar homered on the first pitch of the Brewers' 8-5 loss to the Rangers on Wednesday night at Globe Life Park, giving Villar 19 homers and leaving him one shy of baseball's seventh 20-homer, 60-steal season ever, and its first in 26 years. He will carry a simple philosophy into the season's three remaining games starting on Friday at Coors Field.

"Shhh," Villar said, placing a raised index finger in front of his lips.

Don't think about it, and don't talk about it. That's how Villar approached the past two nights after hitting a pair of home runs against the Rangers on Monday. Villar did not homer on Tuesday, but he did steal a base, giving him 60 this season.

Villar is bidding to become the fourth player in Major League history to hit 20-plus home runs while topping 60 stolen bases in a season. Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson had three such seasons, in 1985 and '86 for the Yankees, and in '90 for the A's. Hall of Famer Joe Morgan had two such seasons for the Reds, in '73 and '76. Reds outfielder Eric Davis also did it in '86.

When those thresholds appeared on Villar's horizon earlier this month, he slipped into a slump. He had three hits in a span of 48 at-bats before hitting a double in Sunday's loss to the Reds, Villar's first extra-base hit since Sept. 13.

"I could not tell you he was going to hit 19 or 20 home runs," said Brewers first-base coach Carlos Subero, who has worked closely with Villar this season. "But you see that raw power. I think we all agree on that."

In recent weeks, it was just a matter of letting it happen.

"Today, I didn't think anything, and I hit a home run," Villar said. "The last three days, I haven't thought once about home runs."

Villar's homer off Rangers starter Cole Hamels left the bat at 107 mph and traveled a projected 421 feet, according to Statcast™. It was his third-hardest hit homer of the season.

Now, Villar needs just one more. On Wednesday, Villar dressed at a locker adjacent to first baseman Chris Carter, the club's home run leader.

"Hey CC," Villar said. "Maybe you can give me one of yours."

No chance, Carter shot back. He's tied for second in the National League with 39 home runs, and is seeking at least one more himself.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.