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Baseball: Baseball's Top 10 Modern Records

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posted on May, 30 2006 @ 11:32 AM
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On ESPN, Jayson Stark posted his Top 10 records-- excluding HR's. Here they are, starting with DiMaggio's 56 Game Hit Streak:

[color= blue]56


HOW LONG IT'S STOOD:
65 years (1941)

CLOSEST CALL SINCE:
44 games, by Pete Rose in 1978

This is it -- the record that has it all. Held by one of the most worshipped players of all time. (Sheez, we were accused by an e-mailer of trying to "bring down" DiMaggio just because we merely dared to cover Jimmy Rollins' streak.) And so time-tested that only one guy (Rose) has gotten within two weeks of breaking it. Yet it still doesn't feel untouchable.

It's also 100 percent controversy-free (even though esteemed historian Pete Palmer says, correctly, that hitting streaks in general are "highly overrated" ). And for sheer buzz factor, it's off the charts, because "it's something that builds, day after day after day," says ESPN's own streakmeister, Orel Hershiser. "Look at Jimmy Rollins and what he just went through. That daily buzz is pretty cool."

In a poll in which just about nobody agreed on anything, this was a runaway winner. So it's official. This is now the standard by which all records should be judged.





[Edited on 5/30/2006 by GiantsFan]

[Edited on 5/30/2006 by GiantsFan]




posted on May, 30 2006 @ 11:34 AM
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[color= blue].400




HOW LONG IT'S STOOD:
Since Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941

CLOSEST CALL SINCE:
.394, by Tony Gwynn in 1994

OK, we know what you're thinking: This isn't a record. Well, it's true. It isn't, technically. So we plead guilty. But let's consider the "actual" records.

Hugh Duffy hit .440 in 1894. That's the all-time record. Nap Lajoie batted .426 in 1901. That's the "modern" record. Rogers Hornsby hit .424 in 1924. That's the live-ball record. And nobody has gotten to .400 since Williams, who did it in Franklin D. Roosevelt's third term.

Has anything in baseball changed since then? Not much -- except for light bulbs, six expansions, globalization, and the invention of closers, televisions, computers and a little contraption called an airplane. In other words, everything has changed, except the shape of the ball.

So admit it. Don't we need to reshape the definition of "modern" records? Of course we do. And as we ponder how to do that, we've been convinced by our panelists that under any definition of what constitutes "modern" baseball, a .400 average represents some kind of record, even though technically, it's only a magic number.

But it's that magic we're looking for in the first place. And the buzz over a pursuit of .400 would blow away the pursuit of just about any record. If somebody wants to take a run at Ted and .406, even better.

"I think that the chase for .400 would out-buzz everything else on your list," says Keith Law, the Blue Jays' special assistant to the GM. "It's a day-in, day-out thing, and its only conclusion is the end of the season (not a single 0-fer), so it can stay in the news long enough to build interest. I would love for someone to chase it, because it would bring a lot of positive press to the game."

Again, we'll explore this issue in more detail down the road. In the meantime, if you want to get technical on us, we could live with listing .406 as The Record, or even .394. But in reality, it's that number, .400, that would start a million hearts thumping. So for now, we'll lay that one out there and figure out the details later.

[Edited on 5/30/2006 by GiantsFan]



posted on May, 30 2006 @ 11:36 AM
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[color= blue]4,256




HOW LONG IT'S STOOD:
20 years (1986)

CLOSEST CALL SINCE:
Paul Molitor got to 3,319 (937 away) before retiring in 1998.

When we measure the potential buzz around any record, it isn't always generated by the number itself. Sometimes, the X factor is just who holds the record.

Well, the guy who holds this record is the all-time human lightning rod. So if anyone ever does take a run at Rose, the story angles will be flying at you from every direction -- east, west, south and Mars.

"This would be a huge deal," Orel Hershiser says, "just because it's Pete. You'd have everything about Pete being brought back up and tons of stories being brought back up. You'd have two lives dissected instead of one."

[Edited on 5/30/2006 by GiantsFan]

[Edited on 5/30/2006 by GiantsFan]



posted on May, 30 2006 @ 11:43 AM
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[color= blue]30




HOW LONG IT'S STOOD:
Since Denny McLain won 31 in 1968 (38 years ago).

CLOSEST CALL SINCE:
27, by Steve Carlton in 1972 and Bob Welch in 1990.

Welcome back to the same debate we faced with .400. Want to call McLain's 31 the new "modern record"? Fine. Want to go with 27? Cool.

But we live in a world that loves its round numbers. And 30 is another one of those numbers that would rev up pulse rates all over America if any pitcher ever got to Aug. 1 with 20 wins.

Then again, no pitcher has done that since Wilbur Wood in 1973. Furthermore, only three pitchers in the last 20 years (Greg Maddux in 1988, Pedro Martinez in 1999 and David Wells in 2000) have won 15 by the All-Star break.

So in a sport in which no non-knuckleballer has made 40 starts in almost a quarter-century (Jim Clancy, 1982), 30 wins might not be much more reachable than Jack Chesbro's 41.

"But if anybody ever did it, there'd be an unbelievable buzz," says Indians assistant GM Chris Antonetti, "because he'd have to do it in 36 starts. So what would his record be -- 30-1, with five no-decisions?"



posted on May, 30 2006 @ 11:45 AM
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[color= blue]2,632




HOW LONG IT'S STOOD:
Since Ripken pulled the plug on Sept. 20, 1998.

CLOSEST CALL SINCE:
969 (thru May 29), by Miguel Tejada (just 10½ years to go), or 1,761* (5½ years away) if you count Hideki Matsui's multi-continent streak that just ended (the last 518 as a Yankee).

Think this record will hold up for 56 years, like Lou Gehrig's did? Heck, it might survive for 356. And the longer it stands, the higher it could elevate on this list.

But we're still not sure what to make of it. If Tejada toils on until 2016, you'd have a tremendous shortstop-in-Baltimore kind of connection. So we suppose it would be feasible to recreate the chills and thrills of Sept. 6, 1995.

On the other hand, it's also possible our view of this record is colored by the emotions of Ripken's magical night. Next time, though, you won't have Gehrig's legacy to stoke the flame. And next time, (we hope) you won't have the pain of an eight-month strike to ease. And next time, what are the odds that someone can merely unfurl a number on a wall -- and people will cry for the next 20 minutes?

So we may just be overrating the buzz quotient for this feat. But maybe not. Pete Palmer calls it "probably the most difficult" modern career record to break. And the true appeal of it, says Mariners special assistant Dan Evans, is that it's really about "showing up to go to work -- something everyone can identify with."

[Edited on 5/30/2006 by GiantsFan]



posted on May, 30 2006 @ 11:48 AM
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[color= blue]59



HOW LONG IT'S STOOD:
18 years

CLOSEST CALL SINCE:
41, by Orioles reliever Gregg Olson over two seasons (1989-90), or 39 1/3 in a single season, by Greg Maddux (2000).

That ever-modest Hershiser wouldn't vote for his own streak. But so many of our other panelists did, we easily could have bumped this even higher on the list.

Many streaks are overrated, but this one is actually underrated. In fact, the always-incisive Rob Tracy of the Elias Sports Bureau called it "the most underrated occurrence of all time."

Since we give extra points for buzz, almost nothing manufactures that buzz like a cool streak. And in an era when almost nobody averages seven innings a start, we're talking about a record that might take a starter nine consecutive shutout outings to break. So think about the insanity as that wave of zeroes reached six and seven and eight starts.

"Or if the guy who was chasing it turned out to be a reliever, like a Mariano Rivera, it would be almost like a DiMaggio-type streak," Hershiser says, "because it would mostly be an inning a game, a game at a time, over a couple of months."

So we admit it. We love this record.



posted on May, 30 2006 @ 11:51 AM
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[color= blue]191



HOW LONG IT'S STOOD:
76 years

CLOSEST CALL SINCE:
184, by Lou Gehrig in 1931, the year after Wilson did it.

CLOSEST IN THE LAST HALF-CENTURY:
165, by Manny Ramirez in 1999

The amazing thing about this record, says Pete Palmer, is that Rogers Hornsby would have been hitting in front of Wilson in 1930 had he not gotten hurt and missed most of the year. So "I wonder how many he would have had with Hornsby on base before him," Palmer muses.

Regardless, this record has gone so unchallenged for so long, it's hard to say what kind of hysteria might erupt if Albert Pujols or Manny or A-Rod were 10 RBI away with the days peeling off the September calendar.

When Juan Gonzalez became the second player in history (with Hank Greenberg) to knock in 100 runs before the All-Star break in 1998, he was a major topic of midseason conversation. But he was also a sideshow to the much more electric home run madness that summer.

With no distractions and the right masher chasing this record next time around (assuming there is a next time), we'd predict a much more raucous scene.

[Edited on 5/30/2006 by GiantsFan]



posted on May, 30 2006 @ 11:52 AM
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[color= blue]1.12



HOW LONG IT'S STOOD:
38 years

CLOSEST CALL SINCE:
1.53, by Dwight Gooden in 1985.

The heck with home runs. Here's a record that needs an asterisk. Gibson rolled up this record in the last season before (A) the lowering of the mound, (B) the shrinking of the strike zone, (C) the second wave of expansion and (D) division play.

We also shouldn't forget that he compiled that 1.12 ERA in a season when six other starters had ERAs below 2.00 and the average pitcher had an ERA under 3.00.

In fact, reports Pete Palmer, if you "normalize" ERAs by comparing them to the league average, Greg Maddux's 1994 season was better than Gibson's, and Pedro Martinez has had two seasons (1999 and 2000) that were better.

But there's still a place for pure numbers in this game. And Gibson has an aura that keeps this record on the exalted list.

Beyond that, it's incredible to contemplate a season in which a pitcher made 13 starts in which he allowed zero runs and 11 more in which he gave up one run. And then there's our final criterion, the number itself: 1.12.

If people can hear a raw number and know exactly what it refers to, it's not just another record. This one sure qualifies. So if anyone ever does make a run at it, we'd all pay attention -- even though, as Antonetti quips, "You'd have to keep your calculator out."

[Edited on 5/30/2006 by GiantsFan]



posted on May, 30 2006 @ 11:54 AM
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[color= blue]130



HOW LONG IT'S STOOD:
24 years (1982)

CLOSEST CALL SINCE:
110, by Vince Coleman in 1985.

With Rickey still out there doing his thing for the world-famous San Diego Surf Dawgs (of the independent Golden League), it doesn't seem as if this record has been around as long as it actually has.

And who'd have thought it would start feeling so unreachable before the man who set it even decided to stop playing?

But it's getting harder than ever to envision somebody making a charge at this, barring a major philosophical shift in how the game is played.

Since Henderson set this record, half that many steals would have been enough to lead one league or the other 24 times. And nobody has been within (gulp) 50 of breaking this thing since 1988. So if someone ever did challenge it, he'd be one of the most magnetic players ever, chasing a Hall of Famer and cult hero.

"I like this," Keith Law says, "because it's built around an exciting event, and another season-long chase. You want something that makes people get up in the morning or get to the office and say, 'Did Smith do X last night?' You want something that makes the mainstream newscasts."

[Edited on 5/30/2006 by GiantsFan]



posted on May, 30 2006 @ 11:56 AM
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[color= blue]383



HOW LONG IT'S STOOD:
33 years (1973)

CLOSEST CALL SINCE:
372, by Randy Johnson in 2001

We'd better confess. Ryan's 5,714 career strikeouts actually got more votes than his greatest season. And so did his seven no-hitters. But we're exercising a little writer's privilege here -- and overruling our own voters.

Why? Because who the heck is ever going to approach 5,700 strikeouts? Roger Clemens has been a power pitcher for 22 seasons, and he's still 1,200 short.

And seven no-hitters wouldn't generate any buzz even if somebody came along to throw six -- because you'd never have any sense of anticipation that the seventh was on the horizon.

But a single-season record chase comes with built-in drama -- because it's a race against the calendar, a duel between one great player and the countdown to the end of the season.

"So the part of this that would be the most fun," Orel Hershiser says, "is the part where people sit around and ask each other: 'How many did he strike out last night? How many more does he need? Let's see. He got 12, so he's 50 away. He's got three starts to go. How many does he need to average?' That's where it gets cool."

But don't start that countdown yet. To break this record in a 36-start season, you would need a pitcher who averages 11 strikeouts a game. To break it in a 250-inning season, you would need a starting pitcher who averages nearly 13.5 whiffs per nine innings.

So the buzz would be no problem, laughs Hershiser, because "the guy who breaks it would be a guy who generates that buzz his whole life."



posted on May, 30 2006 @ 01:25 PM
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HERE ARE SOME:


Babe Ruth's single-season slugging average of .847 belongs up there. (Don't tell me about 2001 and you-know-who.) His 119 extra-base hits also come to mind, as do his 177 runs scored, which Bonds couldn't break even with 230-some walks AND a bunch of HR's and other hits. And both of those were in 154 game seasons.

And his CAREER slugging average of .690--which includes 5 years wasted in his youthful prime, hitting dead balls and being a pitcher, else he would be well over .700--is a recod which will never be touched. It's in the same league with Cy Young's 511 wins, no matter how much garbage some muscle freak wants to take. We went, I believe, from Ted Williams' 1957 season (at age 38-39!!) to 1994 (a seriously shortened season) with zero .700 sluggers for even one season. A live-ball career slugging average over .700 is just incomprehensible, but Ruth had one, with room to spare.

Albert Pujols is, in my opinion, as great a young player as is going to come along, and I sincerely hope he's clean. I have no reason to believe otherwise, and until I do, I'm giving him all benefit of any doubt. Right now, the doubt is non-existent. And as phenomenal as he is, he's not within 20 light years of a .690 career slugging average. He's on pace to do the unthinkable: Supplant Lou Gehrig as the game's greatest first baseman.

If he cannot come within a mile of a .690 career slugging average, it ain't gonna happen.

BHN



posted on May, 30 2006 @ 01:29 PM
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Originally posted by GiantsFan
[color= blue]1.12



HOW LONG IT'S STOOD:
38 years

CLOSEST CALL SINCE:
1.53, by Dwight Gooden in 1985.

The heck with home runs. Here's a record that needs an asterisk. Gibson rolled up this record in the last season before (A) the lowering of the mound, (B) the shrinking of the strike zone, (C) the second wave of expansion and (D) division play.

We also shouldn't forget that he compiled that 1.12 ERA in a season when six other starters had ERAs below 2.00 and the average pitcher had an ERA under 3.00.

In fact, reports Pete Palmer, if you "normalize" ERAs by comparing them to the league average, Greg Maddux's 1994 season was better than Gibson's, and Pedro Martinez has had two seasons (1999 and 2000) that were better.

But there's still a place for pure numbers in this game. And Gibson has an aura that keeps this record on the exalted list.

Beyond that, it's incredible to contemplate a season in which a pitcher made 13 starts in which he allowed zero runs and 11 more in which he gave up one run. And then there's our final criterion, the number itself: 1.12.

If people can hear a raw number and know exactly what it refers to, it's not just another record. This one sure qualifies. So if anyone ever does make a run at it, we'd all pay attention -- even though, as Antonetti quips, "You'd have to keep your calculator out."

[Edited on 5/30/2006 by GiantsFan]



If you include Dead Ball pitchers, Gibson's 1.12 is NOT a record. And given all the qualifiers which one can attach to Gibson's season--including the fact DON DRYSDALE, who belongs in the Hall about like I do, broke Walter Johnson's record for consecutive scoreless innings that year; and also the fact Yaz had to get a couple of hits on the final day to save the AL the embarrassment of having ZERO .300 hitters--you could even make a case it's fair to count those Dead Ball single-season ERA's against Gibson's.

I won't buy it, mind you, but you can make the case.

BHN



posted on May, 30 2006 @ 01:33 PM
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Originally posted by GiantsFan
[color= blue]4,256




HOW LONG IT'S STOOD:
20 years (1986)

CLOSEST CALL SINCE:
Paul Molitor got to 3,319 (937 away) before retiring in 1998.

When we measure the potential buzz around any record, it isn't always generated by the number itself. Sometimes, the X factor is just who holds the record.

Well, the guy who holds this record is the all-time human lightning rod. So if anyone ever does take a run at Rose, the story angles will be flying at you from every direction -- east, west, south and Mars.

"This would be a huge deal," Orel Hershiser says, "just because it's Pete. You'd have everything about Pete being brought back up and tons of stories being brought back up. You'd have two lives dissected instead of one."

[Edited on 5/30/2006 by GiantsFan]

[Edited on 5/30/2006 by GiantsFan]



An artificial stat. Look at Rose's last FIVE seasons, and realize he was the FIRST BASEMAN for those five years. No other terribly slow first baseman has been allowed to play with such pathetic offensive figures--especially NO POWER. Rose was allowed to do it, into his mid-40's, just so he could "break" Cobb's record. THIS is a record that has an * by it, in my book. Any open-minded person who looks at Rose's stats for those last five years, and realizes he was a first baseman, will have to agree.

BHN



posted on May, 30 2006 @ 01:38 PM
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Originally posted by GiantsFan
On ESPN, Jayson Stark posted his Top 10 records-- excluding HR's. Here they are, starting with DiMaggio's 56 Game Hit Streak:

[color= blue]56


HOW LONG IT'S STOOD:


An enormously overrated record by an enormously overrated player. There are at least three CF's who were better--Mays, Cobb and Mantle--and in my book (and that of Bill James), Oscar Charleston and Tris Speaker were also better. And while the 56-game streak obviously is impressive, his stats for his year (1941) are absolutely nothing compared to those of Ted Williams (who, just for starters, batted .406).

BHN




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