MLB players who could hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases
Baseball is the best, for a variety of reasons. One of them is that in every game, we can see the great athletic abilities on the field. One of the most attractive aspects is the dynamic combination of power and speed.
There have been four individual seasons in MLB history in which a player has hit at least 40 home runs and stolen 40 bases or more. Cuban José Canseco did it in 1988, followed by Barry Bonds in 1996 and Alex Rodríguez in 1998. The most recent was Dominican Alfonso Soriano in 2006.
It’s been a while since we’ve seen such a stat, which has almost a mythical aspect when it appears. But with this year’s rule change that could increase stolen base attempts, aside from the pool of uniquely talented players, it’s possible that the 40-40 drought could end in 2023.
Here’s a look at those who could pull it off.
Even before looking at the numbers and projections, it should be noted that the Venezuelan is the first we should think about. He came just three stolen bases away from the feat in 2019, when he hit 41 homers and stole 37 bases. Aside from the 2022 season, returning from knee surgery that took some of his speed while he regained his game, Acuña has been at least in the 90th percentile in thick-bottom hit rate and sprint speed in the rest of its seasons. That’s the kind of thunder and speed combination needed to accomplish the feat. According to Steamer, Acuña will hit 31 homers and steal 35 bases, the only 30-30 season projected by that system in FanGraphs. He would be the first player in the club 30-30 twice after his season as a 25-year-old.
The Dominican may be on the power and speed charts for years to come. In 2022, Rodríguez became the first player with at least 25 home runs and 25 steals or more in his first season in the majors. He had 15 home runs and 20 stolen bases in the first 81 games of his career, the fewest by any player in MLB history to reach those marks. With a healthy full year, the sky’s the limit for the Dominican, who was one of three players last season to rank in the 90th percentile or better in hard hit rate and sprint velocity, along with Mike Trout and Byron Buxton. .
The newly awarded National League Rookie of the Year was one home run away from a 20-20 season. In 114 games, he hit 19 home runs and stole 20 bases. He was also in the 95th percentile for sprint speed. Of Harris’ 19 homers, 14 had an exit velocity of 105 mph or more, so the thunder is evident. Only Rodriguez (18) and Bobby Witt Jr. (15) hit more among rookies. Harris is one of 15 players projected to steal at least 20 bases by 2023 — and that’s before we see the impact of the rule change.
He was another rookie who showed power in 2022. He hit 20 home runs and 30 stolen bases, becoming the second player to go “20-30” in his first MLB season. He accompanies Mitchell Page (1977), who hit 21 home runs and stole 42 bases. Witt had an average sprint speed of 30.4 feet/second. For context, 27 feet/second is the major league average and anything above 30 is considered elite. Witt is projected to steal 27 bases, tied for the fourth-most.
Another player that arises in the concept of dynamics. Chisholm has been in the 94th percentile for sprint speed each of the past two seasons. In just 60 games last year, due to injuries, he hit 25 thick balls, just four shy of his career-high 29 in 2021 — which he had in 124 games. Chisholm is one of nine players projected to steal at least 25 bases.
Others to consider
Shohei Ohtani: He robbed 26 bases in 2021 and has hit 30 or more home runs in each of the past two seasons.
Cedric Mullins: With exactly 30 of each, Mullins went 30-30 last season in 2021.
Fernando Tatis Jr.: It would be more difficult for the Dominican to achieve it, due to the fewer games he will have due to his suspension, but he hit 42 homers and stole 25 bases in 2021.
Kyle Tucker: His 25 steals in 2022 were by far the most among the 23 players with at least 30 home runs.