After last year’s campaign that saw Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers finish just one homer shy of a 40/40 season, Kemp has gotten off to a flying start this year with six homers in his first 11 games. This, of course, is leading to various reporters from major outlets pondering the possibility of Kemp having a 50/50 year. To those reporters, I say…are you kidding me?
Matt Kemp is currently in his prime, at 27 years old. He’s never had a 40 homer season during his career, with the 39 he hit last season marking a career high. In the minor league, his career high in homers for a season is 27. Now, I’m well aware that power matures as you age, but Kemp has no history that would indicate that he’s a 50 homer player. In the last ten seasons, there have been a total of eight 50 homer seasons: one each from Jose Bautista, Jim Thome, Andruw Jones, David Ortiz, Ryan Howard, and Prince Fielder, and two from Alex Rodriguez. Out of those 50 homer seasons, only one of them featured a double digit steal season: Rodriguez in 2007, when he stole 24 bases.
The speed is another issue, though. As a player ages, his speed usually falls off. Kemp has three 30 steal seasons in the majors (and none in the minors), and like with his homers, he set a career high last year with 40. As for 50 steal seasons over the last ten years, they’ve happened more frequently than 50 homer seasons, 30 times in fact. Of the 13 players with at least 50 steals in a season, none have also hit 30 homers in a year. In fact, only Hanley Ramirez and Eric Byrnes (both in 2007) have had 20 homers in the year in which they’ve stolen 50 or more bags.
A 40/40 season is difficult enough. It’s only happened four times in MLB history, and once in the lsat 14 years. None of the players who went 40/40 had more than either 46 homers or 46 steals. While Kemp is a special talent, a 40/40 season is enough of a goal for him, let alone a 50/50 season. I don’t think we’re ever going to see a 50/50 year, but Kemp has as good of a shot as anyone. But the odds of that happening are so slim that I really don’t believe it ever will happen. It takes a two completely different players to hit 50 homers in a season and steal 50 bases in a year, and I don’t think Kemp is the type of player that could do either, let alone both in the same season.