Today, Matt Kemp channeled his inner Joe Namath, and made one of the boldest predictions I’ve ever heard. Kemp has decided he’s going to make baseball history in 2012. He predicted that he is going to be the first player to hit 50 home runs and steal 50 stolen bases in a single season (50-50). He was one home run away last season from joining baseball’s prestigious 40-40 club, and after signing a massive contract extension this off-season, Kemp’s ego and confidence are sky high…. which has him acting borderline crazy.
Kemp has never hit 40 home runs and prior to 2011 had never hit more than 30 home runs. His career high in stolen bases came last season when he stole 40; his career high prior to 2011 was 35. Kemp hasn’t come anywhere close to proving that he can steal 50 bases or hit 50 home runs, but then again few have proved they can achieve either of those feats; let alone both of them. Barry Bonds and Brady Anderson (we’ll leave steroids out of this conversation) are the only players in baseball history to hit 50 home runs in one season, and also steal 50 bases in a season; however, they didn’t achieve those feats in the same season, like Kemp plans to accomplish.
Kemp is still very young (27) and maybe his monster 2011 season is something he can build upon. Kemp is super durable (155+ games per season since 2008) and with Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder leaving the National League, he’s the best player in the NL. Kemp is a superstar, don’t get me wrong, but 50-50 is just not possible and not something he should be talking about on day one of Spring Training. Kemp is very talented, and proved last season that he may be talented enough to join the 40-40 club; yet the members of the 40-40 club (Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Jose Canseco, and Alfonso Soriano… again I’m not going to say anything about steroids), weren’t even close to achieving the 50-50 mark.
During the Steroid Era, a 50-50 season seems like it would have been possible, but it never happened. Baseball’s current atmosphere is nowhere close to the hitting environment of the Steroid Era. Jose Bautista lead the MLB in home runs last season, by putting 43 out of the park. Bautista is also the only player to hit 50 home runs since 2008 (54 in 2010). 40 home runs is an anomaly in today’s game (only two players hit over 40 in 2011); so to think that Kemp is going to hit 50 is absurd. Also, only one player had over 50 steals last season, Michael Bourn had 61, so I also would think you’re out of your mind if you think Kemp will steal 50 bags.
This season, Matt Kemp will in all likelihood have an incredible follow-up campaign to his MVP-caliber 2011. Baseball Think Factory and Dan Szymborski’s ZIPS projections have Kemp hitting 31 home runs and stealing 32 bases; which would be an All-star season. I’d chalk up Kemp’s chances of a 50-50 season at about .0001%. So my advice for Mr. Kemp is to stop talking crazy, and start enjoying Spring Training and your 160 million dollars.