Toughest Achievements: Baseball
While creating the most impressive sports records we at A Sip of Sports felt Baseball deserved their own. We’re not going to deal with insignificant achievements, but with accomplishments that show true athletic greatness:
Ty Cobb’s career .367 Batting Average
As the game is today, this record can not be approached. Power and Walks are the ability most rewarded today. If the game went back to encouraging Tony Gwynn, Rod Carew type hitters and the new ballparks being built would not favor Home Runs, but have fast infields to reward the “hit ‘em where they ain’t” type hitter, it is possible for the batting champions to get back close to .400. We don’t see it happening anytime soon, but I for one find the current emphasis on Home Runs and Walks rather boring. If you take power out of the game, the walks would go down dramatically, which would allow the single’s hitter back in the game. A long shot, but not impossible.
Cy Young’s 511 Career Wins
If a pitcher averaged 20 wins a season (which no current pitcher comes close to doing) it would take 25 years for a pitcher to collect 500 wins. The trends are still going down for the league leaders in Wins. The way teams manage their pitching staffs would have to radically change for this record to be in jeopardy. Wonder what would happen if managers started bringing in their best Starting Pitchers, every 4th day, in the 4th inning. This would allow a Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, or Clayton Kershaw to pitch the last six innings rather the first six. This would probably increase the league leading win totals dramatically, and maybe give someone a peek at Young’s record. Not likely though.
Cy Young’s 751 career Complete Games
Safest baseball record of them all.
Sam Crawford’s 312 career Triples
Last year Charlie Blackmon led the majors with 14 triples. It would take Blackmon 22 years at that pace to catch “Wahoo” Sam. Jose Reyes leads active players entering 2018 season with 128 career triples, nobody else was over 100. Unless the ballparks change radically this record is unapproachable.
Walter Johnson’s 110 career Shut Outs
Clayton Kershaw leads current pitchers with 15 career Shut-Outs. Three led the majors last year. Almost as safe as Young’s Complete Game Record
Nolan Ryan’s career 5714 career Strikeouts
Randy Johnson is 2nd at 4875. Ryan was such a unique athlete that this record seems out of reach. He led the league in strikeouts in 1990 at age 43! The current crop of pitchers probably won’t approach it, but one could see a change of strategy, with pitchers pitching more innings in a season, when somebody could get to it. Strikeouts are way up, many pitchers average over 10 strikeouts every nine innings. It would take 19 years averaging 300 strikeouts a year to reach Nolan. A Randy Johnson type pitcher throwing 320 innings a year could get there.
Nolan Ryan’s record 7 career No-Hitters
Sandy Koufax is next with 4. You must remember that Koufax retired at age 30. If he had pitched till he was 40 he probably would still hold the record. A Koufax type pitcher could get to Ryan’s record. Seems vulnerable.
Rickey Henderson 1406 career Steals
The Stolen Base is out of favor these days. Baseball analyst seems to have convinced managers that the steal is a bad gamble. Just remember that in the 1950s Ty Cobb’s record of 892 steals (people seemed to discount Billy Hamilton’s 912 for some reason) seemed out of reach, but it was broken in the 1970s. Baseball sometimes changes rapidly.
Joe Dimaggio’s 56 game hitting streak
2nd is Willie Keeler at 45. Pete Rose hit in 44 straight in 1978. In today’s baseball the record seems solid, but if the fast singles hitter comes back they could challenge it. It will not happen in the type baseball played now.
New York Yankees winning five straight World Series titles
Is this doable? Maybe. There are pluses and minuses in today’s game. You do not have to win the most games in your league to make the World Series like you once did. The New York Yankees from 1996 to 2000 won four Series titles in five years, but they only had the best record in the American League in two of their championship seasons. That couldn’t have happened before 1969. On the minus side their are now 15 teams in the American League, while their were only eight in 1949 to 1953. You get a team like the Yankees or Dodgers, who could afford the best players in baseball year after year, then five in a row is possible, but not likely.
One of the great things about baseball is how old of a sport it is. It’s history and numbers go as far back as the 1880s. In the 140 years of baseball, the game has looked very different at different times. At some times the movers and shakers were trying to prevent dominance. At other times, like today, they try to help the best players to bring fans to the game. What I’m saying is the game of baseball could look very different in 20, 50 or 100 years from now and some of these records may be history while other records we find beatable now will be amazing stats to the next generation. It’s one of the magics of the game of baseball, it’s always changing while also having a good hand on it’s past.