There have only been four players in the history of Major League Baseball that have ever had a season in which both the 40 home run and the 40 stolen base plateaus were reached. Jose Canseco in 1998, Barry Bond in 1996, Alex Rodriguez in 1998 and Alfonso Soriano in 2006.
No player has ever had a 50/50 season. Ever.
That is why it was so shocking to hear Los Angeles Dodger Matt Kemp predict that we would reach the elusive 50/50 season. Granted, Matt Kemp is a great player, who hit 39 HR and had 40 SB last season as he finished second in the MVP voting. But 50/50 is borderline unimaginable, even with someone of Kemp’s talent.
For the sake of argument though, here are 5 current players besides Kemp that have the speed and power to have a 50/50 season.
Jacoby Ellsbury (CF – Boston Red Sox); career best HR season – 32 (2011), career best SB season – 70 (2009)
Of the five players on the list, Ellsbury has the most legit shot at reaching a 50/50 season. The talented Red Sox outfielder has twice hit the 50 SB mark and his HR totals have steadily grown during his career. At 28 years old, Ellsbury as another 2 – 3 year window in which he will still have the speed to nab 50 SB in a year, but it remains to be seen if he has the power to ever reach 50 HR in a season, let alone 40.
Ryan Braun (LF – Milwaukee Brewers); career best HR season – 37 (2008), career best SB season – 33 (2011)
The reigning MVP has had over 25 HR in each of his first full 5 seasons in the big leagues. But Braun has two things going against him if he ever hopes to reach a 50/50 season. It is unclear as to how many good pitches Braun will see after the departure of Prince Fielder to the Detroit Tigers. Also, Braun has only broken 20 SB once in his career. At 28 years old, the odds of his SB production to increase much more are pretty low.
Ian Kinsler (2B – Texas Rangers); career best HR season – 32 (2011), career best SB season – 31 (2009)
Kinsler, an All-Star second baseman with the Texas Rangers, has managed to produce two 30/30 seasons in his 6 big league seasons. Despite those accomplishments, his career bests in HR and SB are still 18 HR and 19 SB below what would be needed to produce a 50/50 season. Great, but not amazing.
Curtis Granderson (CF – New York Yankees); career best HR season – 41 (2011), career best SB – 26 (2007)
Of all of the players on our list, Granderson is the only one to have ever eclipsed 40 HR in a single season. Still, at 31 years old, Granderson’s career best in stolen bases is almost half of what would be needed to reach a 50/50 season. Time is not on Mr. Granderson’s side.
Andrew McCutchen (CF – Pittsburg Pirates); career best HR – 23 (2011), career best SB – 33 (2011)
The youngest and perhaps the player with the most pure talent on our list, McCutchen still has 6 – 7 years in which he will have the physical capabilities to have a magical 50/50 season. But as a Pirate, one has to wonder if McCutchen would ever see enough good pitches to get to 50 HR.
Alex Wibholm is an Iowa native and fan of the Kansas City Royals and AL Central Division. Alex attends several KC games every year.