Thursday, April 19, 2012

Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez among those who could go 40/40 in 2012

For those don't know, a 40/40 season would consist of a player that hits 40 home runs, while also stealing 40 bases. While Los Angeles Dodgers OF Matt Kemp has spoke of creating the 50/50 club after just missing the 40/40 club last season, the odds of a player reaching that lofty goal seem minimal. That being said, here are my leading candidates to join the 40/40 club this season.

Curtis Granderson - New York Yankees
Granderson has yet to steal a base this season, but after a three home run effort against the Twins tonight, is now up to six home runs on the season. In 2011, Granderson hit 41 home runs while stealing 25 bases. Despite Granderson's speed, his base-running instincts are not that great, and was caught stealing 10 times in 2011. The home runs will likely be in the ballpark again, as the left-handed Granderson does a great job of using Yankee Stadium and its short right porch in right field.

Matt Kemp - Los Angeles Dodgers
Kemp was a near-miss for this club last season, ending up one home run shy of becoming the first player since Alfonso Soriano in 2006. Even with the Dodgers terrible record, Kemp was a legitimate MVP candidate in 2011 (.324 BA, 39 HR, 126 RBI). Kemp is a true five-tool player, but Dodger Stadium is a fairly pitcher-friendly park, as are fellow division rival San Francisco's AT&T Park, which will make reaching 40 home runs no small achievement. This season, Kemp already has seven home runs, but has just one stolen base in three attempts.

Chris Young - Arizona Diamondbacks
Young has had back-to-back 20/20 seasons, and at 28 is squarely in his prime. The dimensions of Chase Field aren't super-conducive to big power numbers, and both AT&T Park and Dodger Stadium are pitcher-friendly as well. He's also never had more than 35 steal attempts in his career, so he will need to be more aggressive in that category to have a chance. Young is sitting at five home runs and two stolen bases thus far in 2012, but should at least threaten a 30/30 this year.

Hanley Ramirez - Miami Marlins
Ramirez has already been a 30/30 club member (2008), and has still retained a lot of his speed despite adding muscle to his frame. Ramirez had a terrible season in 2011, dealing with injuries and below-average production at the plate (.243, 10 HR, 45 RBI in 98 games). Marlins Park is also somewhat pitcher-friendly, but Ramirez seems to be more focused (and in better shape) than last season, and at 28 is still in his peak years. Ramirez currently has four round-trippers and two steals through 12 games.

Ryan Braun - Milwaukee Brewers
The 2011 NL MVP hasn't hit for much power this season, as he has just one home run in 42 at-bats this season, but accompanied Matt Kemp as a fellow 30/30 member in 2011. Miller Park could definitely be considered hitter-friendly, and outside of the St. Louis Cardinals, there is not a lot of strong starting pitching in the NL Central, and Braun could approach 40 home runs. The steals may be a difficult task, as before 2011, Braun's career high in swipes was 20.

Ultimately, no player on my list may reach the 40/40 club this season, as just four players have done so in Major League history (Jose Canseco, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Alfonso Soriano). Of those four, only Soriano has not been linked to P.E.D. usage, which would make reaching 40/40 a truly impressive feat. Out of my list, I think that Kemp has the best shot, but I could also see Hanley Ramirez threaten as well.

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