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September 23, 2010

Checking the Numbers

Setting the Records Straight

by Eric Seidman

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A few weeks ago, Bob Hertzel wrote a thought-provoking column here at Baseball Prospectus that sought to identify baseball records that would never be broken. The thesis seemed to be that many records may feel out of reach, yet those same records were thought to be impossible to break when they were originally achieved. My friends and I participate in the same type of discussion on occasion when we go out to watch games, and it is one of the most interesting topics to bring up in a crowd of baseball nuts. Not only will strong opinions emerge, but there are usually oddball records that surface over which to ponder. For instance, did you know that Ty Cobb has the AL record with nine inside-the-park home runs in the 1909 season? Or that Eddie Murray has the record for most sacrifice flies in a career with 128? Or how about that Bob Shaw was called for a record five balks on May 4, 1963? With so many stats, records are bountiful, and it is always fun to reflect.

In conversations, Fernando Tatis launching two grand slams in the same inning is usually the one that makes a group reflect in awe at the inherent level of difficulty. Think about it: He not only had to hit two home runs in the same inning, but his team had to be so productive in that frame that they loaded the bases before each of his at-bats. Someone inevitably brings up Cy Young’s career wins and losses records. Cal Ripken’s consecutive games streak comes up, as does the 56-game hitting streak by Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio. One member of the group will reluctantly bring up Barry Bonds, as his single-season mark of 73 dingers is too mind-boggling to ignore, as are his annual OBPs from 2001-04. Usually, however, discussions of this ilk are dominated by players with names that just are not given anymore like Cy, Enos, Arky, Rube, and Whitey.

And for good reason, as players from the early days of baseball have fairly insane stats on their resumes. Nobody is ever, ever, ever going to approach either the 511 wins or 316 losses amassed by Young. Aside from maybe CC Sabathia, nobody is likely to ever approach even 300 wins again, let alone 400, and the large lefty is by no means a lock to reach even 250 wins. Similarly, nobody is ever going to come in the vicinity of the zany complete games streaks or records from the 1950s and earlier, or the innings pitched totals. The list goes on and on with regards to which records, set back in the Deadball Era or soon thereafter, will never be broken.

But does it matter that they will never be broken? Are they really even records? The answer is the ambiguous “yes and no.” Yes, technically speaking, Young holds the records for wins, losses, games, complete games, shortest first name (he’s tied), but his numbers are not relevant to any period other than his own. The issue isn’t that these records will never be broken, but rather that they are discussed as records in modern day conversations. I am not trying to suggest that what happened in the past is irrelevant, but rather that I have a problem with the lack of contextualization surrounding the idea of a baseball record. Realistically, starting 80 games in a league wherein the normal starter makes 68 starts is equivalent to starting 36 games in 2007 when the normal starter appeared 32 times. The difference lies in the context of the times.

When discussing records, I much prefer to steer the conversation toward era-based achievements. Either that or I like to apply filters when discussing records. For instance, I consider Todd Helton to hold the record for most doubles in the wild card era with his 59 in 2000. Does he hold the all-time record in the history of baseball from 1890-2010? No, Earl Webb’s 67 in the 1931 season tops everyone, but in the era that Helton played, which undoubtedly held more collective talent than any other era, he achieved something nobody else did. Just like Young won 511 games as the high water mark of his era, Greg Maddux’s 355 wins is incredibly impressive relative to his era. The statistics produced by baseball players are dependent upon the times they played, and since these eras can be so incredibly different from a style of play standpoint, it makes no sense to offer straight comparisons.

One issue is that people, by nature, do not like to compartmentalize information when it is not easily separable. It’s easy to group pitchers based on start and endpoints that form a decade, or quarter-century, but an era is likely to be considered more arbitrary than not. In some cases it is rather easy: the wild card era is clearly 1995-onward, as it encompasses the span of time in which the wild card playoff berth was in use. But determining all of the other eras and their respective time frames is ultimately left to easily debatable opinions. Because of the inherent subjectivity, it becomes much easier to just discuss the entirety of baseball in conversations surrounding records.

Additionally, by suggesting that a mark constitutes the best in history, its status is instantly elevated. Saying that Helton holds the all-time single-season record for doubles is just plain sexier than saying he has the record in the wild-card era. Applying a filter along those lines brings about negative connotations, as if the accomplishment is cheapened. In reality, comparing a season from Maddux to one from Kid Nichols would be like comparing a movie with a motor mouth like Chris Tucker to a silent film. Such comparisons are irrelevant because the circumstances under which the end results were produced are in no way, shape, or form similar.

I am not trying to sound like a snot-nosed brat who doesn’t respect the past, but it is growing tiresome to hear people discuss records that will never be broken by bringing up achievements from eras that have absolutely nothing in common with others. It doesn’t cheapen accomplishments at all to apply an era filter. If anything, it should magnify what occurred. Another reason something along the lines of contextualized records may be a tough sell is that the past is treated with such reverence that it is almost blasphemous to suggest that certain records from the past just are not that impressive when compared to others from their era. On top of that, we often don’t appreciate current performances until five or 10 years later, at which point the achievements have crystallized and are used to explain why a new current player’s numbers are not as great as they look.

All of which brings us to the Hall of Fame, and how several current players are likely to be judged based on outdated standards and milestones, which is the most unfair aspect of this lack of contextualization. I would bet money that nobody wins 300 games again, and maybe only a couple of pitchers reach 250, but somebody like Roy Halladay is going to be judged against these benchmarks. While Halladay is likely to get into Cooperstown, there will inevitably be writers who see his, say, 232 career wins and inaccurately compare the total to others accrued in past eras, neglecting to understand that 232 in this day and age might be equivalent to 330 in the past, especially considering he is about as old-timey of a pitcher as we have seen over the last decade.

 All I am asking is that when fans or writers discuss baseball records the appropriate context is used. What happened in Deadball stays in Deadball. Let’s stop bringing up obviously unbreakable records in conversations and focus more on records produced in different eras that could be broken. It might feel like the accomplishments have been cheapened, but I would much rather have it thought of that way than to have people bring up 511 wins in future discussions of unbreakable records.   

Eric Seidman is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Eric's other articles. You can contact Eric by clicking here

Related Content:  Records,  The Streak

43 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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R.A.Wagman

Eric - while I agree with you for the most part, I think that we will see 300 game winners in the near future. Since Early Wynn reached that milestone, people were saying that there would never be another one. Yet there always is. It might not happen to a pitcher who is already established (Sabathia, Halladay et al), but it will happen.

Sep 23, 2010 04:39 AM
rating: 3
 
awayish

One thing i don't see discussed very often is the idea of knowledge accumulation in the game, i.e. people figuring out better ways of playing the game over time and passing on that knowledge to future players, so that the game today is literally different from the olde days apart from the difference in talent.

Sep 23, 2010 05:57 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Eric Seidman
BP staff

R.A. -- I'll need a little more than your word that it'll happen again ;-). Tell me WHY. What has led you to believe, with the current style of play, that it'll happen? To me, it seems that starting pitchers are going to go for fewer games in the future as a means of saving them. Maybe 26-27 starts becomes the norm and we see 6-man rotations as well. Everything seems to be gravitating away from what made 300+ wins possible.

Sep 23, 2010 05:58 AM
 
R.A.Wagman

The why is the same "why" that we saw pitchers post-Wynn to make it to 300. Health is a skill and some pitchers will have it. He'll end this season at around 170. Next year, he'll be 34. Is it out of the question that his remains and he stays strong until his age 40 season? 7 more years at a very conservative 15 victories per season would get him to approximately 285. Do you think that at 285, he won't stick around for another 15? If he can average 17 victories per year for seven seasons, he'll be at 299.
CC Sabathia will end this year at around 158. Pitching for the Yankees, I feel comfortable giving him 18 victories a season for the next five years. That would get him to 248 by the end of his age 34 season. From there, we can drop him to 14 wins per year for, say, the next three seasons. That has him at 290 by age 37. Very few pitchers stop that close to the goal.

Sep 23, 2010 06:32 AM
rating: 0
 
R.A.Wagman

I'll throw Justin Verlander and Tim Lincecum as two more good candidates with the means and good enough career starts to threaten the 300-win mark.

Sep 25, 2010 06:26 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Eric Seidman
BP staff

No way! I'd say they are two of the least likely. Too tough to tell given the injury risk with their styles and how, with Verlander, we don't know how he'll be when he can't throw hard. With Lincecum, he'll need a good offense to win games.

Sep 25, 2010 06:51 AM
 
R.A.Wagman

Verlander is 27 and will have 83/84 wins by year's end. In 5 full seasons. That's four great years, and one poor season. The average is 16.5 wins per. Lets be conservative and say 16 victories per season. If he's 217 wins short now, he will need another 13.5 seasons at 16 wins per to get there. So until he's 40/41. He's past the injury nexus (not a guarantee, but a positive sign). And like a Halladay-type, he sustains his stuff well beyond 100 pitches, and late into the season, every time. He could definitely do it. Lincecum is more of a long shot (team, age, accumulated victories) but not that much of a dark horse really. The Giants offense will improve over time. And who's to say he spends his whole career there anyway.

Sep 25, 2010 08:44 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Eric Seidman
BP staff

One point not necessarily against Verlander but still up in the air, which I mentioned, is what he'll be like when his stuff inevitably fades. I don't think he'll be throwing 96 mph as a 36+ year old, so it'll depend on how he adjusts, assuming he is still dominant enough to be within reach.

Sep 25, 2010 08:50 AM
 
R.A.Wagman

To make that assessment, we would have to study fastball aging patterns. Why some pitchers keep it, why others lose it. Once that is determined, we could begin to speculate how likely Verlander is to keep his. For example, it is known (at least Kevin Goldstein asserts it) that many pitchers throw faster in high school than they do as pros. But some maintain their speed of youth. So at what age are most pitchers expected to lose some speed?

Sep 25, 2010 09:17 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Eric Seidman
BP staff

This is on most PITCHf/x analysts queue for things to research over the next 10 years.

Sep 25, 2010 09:31 AM
 
R.A.Wagman

Even without the benefit of Pitchf/x, we could play scouts and compare a sub-set of young flame-throwers who lost their speed (and try to figure out why) and one's who did not - compare the difference and see on which side Verlander falls.

Sep 25, 2010 09:43 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Eric Seidman
BP staff

Unfortunately, we really can't without some type of data. We would need a uniform velocity reference and an unbiased way of selecting the pitchers to study. Just picking four or five guys we remember and cobbling together velocity info we get from TV -- which comes from production assistants in the stands -- isn't terribly reliable.

Sep 25, 2010 09:52 AM
 
R.A.Wagman

not terribly reliable, but better than nothing. Something off of which a hypothesis can be formed for future testing.

Sep 25, 2010 10:06 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Eric Seidman
BP staff

It really depends on the analyst. I don't like starting incomplete research. I don't mind developing methodology and storing it on my computer, but I'm probably not going to publish something like what you described until we have reliable data with which I feel comfortable using.

Sep 25, 2010 10:34 AM
 
Festsgrber

Dare to consider he has an injury and comes back as a knuckle-ball pitcher?

Sep 25, 2010 14:19 PM
rating: 0
 
baserip4

This seems like a ridiculous comment. Why couldn't Andy Pettitte (240 wins, age 38) get there? If Mike Mussina hadn't retired--while still being a very capable Major League pitcher--he almost certainly would have reached the milestone. Mussina went to college and pitched his entire career in the 1990s and 2000s. Is it likely for any particular pitcher to reach 300 wins? Absolutely not. But I would say its more than likely that some pitcher will reach 300 wins (not that wins matter, of course); it all comes down to health and a willingness to pitch to age 40.

Sep 23, 2010 07:52 AM
rating: 0
 
baserip4

More about Mussina:

1) Mussina made his Major League debut in 1991, well after the closer era began.
2) Mussina pitched in college, and made his debut at age 22, but wasn't a full-time Major Leaguer until age 23.
3) Mussina famously won 20 games just once, in his final season at age 39.
4) Mussina never made more than 36 starts in a season.
5) Mussina surpassed 240 innings in a season just twice, in 1992 and 1996, and threw more than 230 innings just one other time, in 2000.
6) During his 17 full-time seasons, Mussina threw fewer than 200 innings six times, albeit once during strike-shortened 1994.
7) Mussina pitched during the era of guaranteed contracts, and made more than $144 million in his career.

Sep 23, 2010 08:03 AM
rating: 2
 
CRP13

...your point?

Sep 23, 2010 10:07 AM
rating: -2
 
BP staff member Eric Seidman
BP staff

Yeah this comment feels so out of place, haha.

Sep 23, 2010 15:36 PM
 
baserip4

Just that Mussina meets nearly all the conditions that people cite as evidence that we'll never see a 300 game winner again, and he very, very easily could have stuck around for those final 30 wins. Sorry if I took some time to actually think rather than agreeing with the conventional wisdom on this one.

Sep 24, 2010 10:44 AM
rating: 2
 
BP staff member Eric Seidman
BP staff

But Mussina didn't get to 300. I fail to see how the fact that he met specific conditions suddenly rejects the null hypothesis. If you're saying that we're bound to see some pitcher stay effective for 18-20 seasons and durable enough to throw 180+ innings then you're probably right, but even that doesn't guarantee 300 wins, as in the case of Mussina. So we'll see.

Sep 24, 2010 16:25 PM
 
baserip4

But why is the null hypothesis that no one will ever win 300 games again? Shouldn't baseball history tell us that the null hypothesis must be that someone will win 300 games again, and then we look for evidence to disprove that? In which, case the pieces of evidence most cited are:

1) pitchers don't throw as many innings per start and don't make as many starts, reducing the number of possible decisions
3) later start to careers by college pitchers reduces the number of seasons
3) guaranteed contracts reduce the incentive for pitchers to stick around for a long time

While Mussina didn't meet number 3, he absolutely fit numbers 1 and 2. I think there are enough guys who pitch just a bit too long (Smoltz, Glavine, Moyer, Brett Favre, et al) that Mussina is the exception which proves number 3.

All I am saying is that it takes just one pitcher with the talent, health profile, good fortune to pitch on winning teams, and the competitive juices to stick around into his early 40s. If you're willing to say we'll NEVER see that pitcher again, fine, but from this comment it doesn't seem like you are.

Sep 25, 2010 09:09 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Eric Seidman
BP staff

Oh, it certainly COULD happen. My opinion is that, barring substantial changes it won't. Now there is certainly enough opinion here to help sway me to the dark side, but this all detracts from the main point of my article, which is that comparing someone's win totals today to Cy Young's or to others from his era doesn't make any sense.

Sep 25, 2010 09:17 AM
 
MWSchneider

What about something like hitting .400? It's not a record, but does it make sense to use Ted Williams' 1941 season as a standard, considering the different conditions? Unlike winning 30 games in a season, for example, which is almost literally impossible due to different usage patters for pitchers, in theory, someone could hit .400. But, how realistic is that today? If someone hits, say .380, today, how does that compare to hitting .400 in 1941?

Sep 23, 2010 06:56 AM
rating: 1
 
frugalscott310

The sub-title of the post is "Setting the Records Straight" yet the classic ruse is used throughout in which the author fudges numbers to try to make his point look more valid. The most obvious example of this is in his comparison of Cy Young's era to that of today when he states that "starting 80 games in a league wherein the normal starter makes 68 starts is equivalent to starting 36 games in 2007 when the normal starter appeared 32 times". Maybe I'm missing something, but the record shows that Cy Young never started as many as 50 games in any single season.

The point of looking at and discussing those 'unbreakable' records is (or at least should be) to marvel at the special level of achievement that these players reached. Halladay will not be judged by Young's accomplishments because those are off the charts. Halladay MAY be held up to the scrutiny of 300 wins, and rightly so at least in part. In my mind, the Hall is supposed to recognize those players who were at the top of their game over a significant period of time. Young was dominant for a period of 15 or so consecutive seasons. Bob Gibson was equally good for a shorter period but still more than a decade. Halladay has been the pitcher he is right now for seven seasons or so and that is in a nine year period. He averaged only 20 starts in 2004 and 2005 combined. Yes, he's as good as there is right now, but the question is whether he can maintain that for another five or six seasons. If he does, he'll make the Hall regardless of win totals.

Contextualizing accomplishments means looking at the whole context, not just the context that creates a picture you want to present. It also involves being honest about the context. Deciding that context is an important part of looking at records allows, in my mind way too much room for selective context. A good example would be Eric's contention that Todd Helton may hold the record for doubles if you apply context. That would be true only if your context is selective. The fact that Helton played half his games in 2000 in the pre-humidor Coors Field where the gaps are bigger than any park in baseball against opposing outfielders not always built to play those gaps is another piece of context that must be included once we decide context is important. Including that bit of context tends to diminish Helton's feat.

The 'unbreakable' records should be a celebration of the unique and incredible talents of those players who hold them. While we can still look at the unique talents of other players and appreciate them, there is really no need to try to raise up one era/player/accomplishment by looking for ways to diminish another.

Sep 23, 2010 06:57 AM
rating: 5
 
BP staff member Eric Seidman
BP staff

MWSchneider, I don't know off the top of my head, but I would think that the level of talent required to hit .400 now is much greater than in 1941, and so hitting .390 today would be more impressive than .400 in 1941, but again that's why I'm advocating contextual records. .400+ BA is obviously awesome, but getting to the same mark today isn't the same as it would have been 69 years ago.

Sep 23, 2010 06:59 AM
 
nblascak

I checked Ted Williams' 1941 season in which he hit .400 and saw his slash line was .406/.553/.735 (!!!). That got me thinking (since Eric has written numerous columns about slash line peculiarities), has anyone else ever recorded a slash line of .400/.500/.600 (instead of our more normal .300/.400/.500)?

In regard to the article, is this a club (if there are any other members) that would warrant a context?

Sep 23, 2010 07:42 AM
rating: 0
 
aronf77

"I'll need a little more than your word that it'll happen again"

We need a little more than your word that it won't! Obviously it's significantly more difficult than it used to be, and with 5-man rotations 400 or even 350 is pretty far-fetched, but every generation is still going to have a freak or two who can pitch effectively for 18-20 years and they'll have a shot.

As for 6-man rotations, I don't see it. I think the lesson people are drawing from the Strasburg experience isn't that pitchers should pitch less; it's that there's only so much you can do. You can't be any more careful than the Nats were with Strasburg. It's also becoming clear that once pitchers pass the danger zone of their early 20s, they can be quite durable. If anything, we might see veteran starters getting more starts as time goes by.

Sep 23, 2010 07:53 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Eric Seidman
BP staff

All's I'm saying is it's unlikely aside from a few guys who got their start prior to the shift away from starts and innings, or who are freaks like Halladay. You're right that someone could be great for 18-20 years, or be durable and effective enough on a winning team that 15 wins is normal from age 38-41, but I just don't see it. I really think we're going to see staggered rotations where you have a #1 to #3 starter making 34 each, a #4 making 32, a #5 at 25 and a #6 at 18-20, with others filling in at various spots due to injuries, before we see guys start to make more starts in a season.

Sep 23, 2010 08:27 AM
 
baserip4

So if an #1 to #3 is making 34 starts a year, why can't that starter win 300 games? Mike Mussina, in his whole career, made 34 starts just three times, plus 36 starts once. He retired, at at age 39, with 270 wins. Sabathia got his start in 2000, and he has had at least 34 for 4 straight seasons (assuming he gets two more this year). I'm 28 years old today. If, on my 70th birthday, we haven't seen another 300 game winner, I will be absolutely shocked. Here is what I wrote two years ago when the rash of stories proclaiming Randy Johnson the final 300 game winner game out:

"A large gap between 300 game winners is far from unusual in baseball history. In fact, there has been a gap of at least 14 seasons between the first wins of future 300 game winners four different times: 1911 to 1925, 1925 to 1941, 1946 to 1962, and 1968 to 1984. People wrote after Ryan won his 300th game in 1990 that we may never see the feat again (ht: Wezen-ball). Why? Because of the 5-man rotation, reliever specialization, guaranteed contracts, later debut ages, etc. Gee, that sounds awfully familiar. Yes, that's right: Clemens, Maddux, Glavine and Johnson all won 300 games in the era of the 5-man rotation, the closer and guaranteed contracts. Do I know who will be the next 300-game winner? Definitely not. But before we write off the current crop of pitchers as too soft and pampered and yearn for the glory days of yesteryear, it is important to keep in mind that what we're seeing now is far from unusual. In fact, it fits perfectly with patterns we've seen repeatedly as baseball has transformed over the year."

http://baltimorebirdsnest.blogspot.com/search/label/300%20Game%20Winners

Sep 23, 2010 08:54 AM
rating: 3
 
CRP13

Somebody's got a Moose-crush.

Sep 23, 2010 10:09 AM
rating: 1
 
klipzlskim

I think we need to be careful about saying "never" in this context. Who knows what changes the game will undergo that could make these records achievable once again? The season could be extended to include more games. Other changes (e.g. changing mound height, moving outfields walls in or out) could give either hitters or pitchers a greater advantage. Breakthroughs in medical science could enable pitchers to log more innings. Just as people in baseball's early days couldn't forsee the way the game is played now, we can't tell how it will be in a hundred years.

Sep 23, 2010 09:32 AM
rating: 1
 
Brian Kopec

Unfortunately, that comment just sent Seidman back to the 12th dimension.

Sep 23, 2010 12:18 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Eric Seidman
BP staff

No it didn't. It sent your face back to the 12th dimension. BURN.

Sep 23, 2010 15:37 PM
 
Richie

What klipzls guy says. If they swith to 4-man rotations with starters going 5-6 innings per start, if medical advances extend careers into the 40s, if knuckleballing comes back into vogue, all ifs just off the top of the head with who knows how many more possible ones. And some of which WILL come true.

Eric, it's just historically silly to talk about 'unbreakable' career records. By which I mean the most casual historical perusal of the topic will uncover so many once-unbreakable broken records.

Sep 23, 2010 09:55 AM
rating: 0
 
Alex Reisner

Eric, you're right that contextualizing records often seems to cheapen them. I think people are (rightly) skeptical of arbitrary conditions, as @frugalscott310 points out. For a long time I've thought that we should be paying more attention to z-scores when trying to contextualize records. Standard deviations above the mean is conceptually equivalent to "dominance," which is really what we're talking about when we say "in their era."

I'm not expecting to sell z-scores to the casual fan any time soon, but to the more mathematically-inclined fan they would seem to circumvent the eyebrow-raising effect of naming an arbitrary era. If someone tells me "Helton's z-score for doubles in 2000 was 3.67" I feel less suspicious that they're trying to manufacture an argument than if they say "Helton has the most doubles in the wild card era." I also have the HUGE advantage of a number I can take and compare to others. A portable, era-specific number.

For the past five year I've maintained a web site that lists z-scores for offensive stats for every player-season since the 1870s. On it you can see that Helton's 59 doubles were actually slightly less dominant than Webb's 67 in 1931:

http://alexreisner.com/baseball/stats/leaders?s=2B

Sep 23, 2010 11:44 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Eric Seidman
BP staff

Z-Scores are a good tool. I actually used them in my book's last chapter to describe how to compare one era to another, so I'm on-board with that. The comparison between Webb and Helton helps illustrate one of my points. In your table Webb is at 3.68, Helton at 3.67, yet Webb set the record for raw totals by hitting 8 more than Helton. So contextualizing everything helps us better understand what has actually happened across the history of the game and might be a better way than applying era filters.

Sep 23, 2010 15:38 PM
 
misterjohnny
(925)

You know how 300 wins can be broken? When a gutsy manager and pitcher decide that on a pitcher's "throw day", he'll throw 2 innings of middle relief. Probably vulture 3-4 wins that way.

Sep 23, 2010 13:58 PM
rating: 1
 
ronb626

In my lifetime, some "unbreakable" records have been broken. Cobb's sinlge season stolen base record, stood for several decades. It's been broken in my lifetime. Gehrig's consecutive games total was "unbreakable". Now, Ripken has that record. Ruth's season of 60 home runs and 714 career home runs, both, "unbreakable", have been broken. The season record, both with astericks and without, has been broken multiple times.

So, what is an "unbreakable" record? Young's win total, most probably. Hornsby's .424 batting average, again, most probably. Bond's 73 homers? Probably.

But, who's to say that the future breaker of any of these records isn't playing Little League baseball right now? Or, that his father isn't?

While I don't really believe that many of these records will be broken, or re-broken, in the near future, who's to say that some little kid, right now, won't someday blast 85 homers? Or, steal 150 bases? Or, strike out 400 batters?

Probable? Most definitely not! But, possible? Yes!

Sep 23, 2010 19:49 PM
rating: 0
 
Sam Mauser

If it counts, Ol' Hoss Radbourn won 59 games in 1884. Ain't nobody touching that.

Seriously though, the subject is a decent read:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlie_Radbourn#1884_Season

19.8 WAR on the season. I can't wrap my head around it.

Sep 24, 2010 01:08 AM
rating: 0
 
NYYanks826

Another thing that's so hard to believe about Fernando Tatis's two grand slams in one inning is that they both came off of the same pitcher (Chan Ho Park).

Sep 24, 2010 01:26 AM
rating: 0
 
Festsgrber

Thought provoking article.

One thing that is unpredictable is the direction of trends.

The trend now is for young pitchers to be coddled until they are 25 or so to develop the health skill and possibly prolong the career. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn't.

I will just mention improvements in training and medical advances in injury treatment and rehabilitation. What if HGH is legalized as a form of injury treatment or prevention or (Horrors!) it is discovered that HGH slows down the aging process?

Consider possible trends toward movement over speed. I don't mean that speed will take a backseat, but that maybe pitcher development trends figure out how to coach pitchers to be more like Greg Maddux than Randy Johnson?

With video scouting and the ability to break down mechanics to the millisecond, who knows what the next generation may be able to do?

Also, staunch traditionalists can't live forever and there may be actual changes to the game. We already see King Felix possibly a front-runner for the Cy Young award and what is his record? Maybe this has an unintended consequence in the area of either how pitchers are used or maybe how the Win is awarded?

Never is a long time and you never know what the future holds.

Sep 24, 2010 06:50 AM
rating: 2
 
greg26

I'm with Festsgrber, Richie and klipzlskim. Eric's claim that nobody will *ever* approach 300 or 400 wins again cannot be substantiated. Not because of specific arguments about Moose or CC. But because we just don't know about the game 100 or 200 years from now. I think the most likely change will be medically. Maybe it's HGH. Or maybe someone mixes carrot juice with raisins and tofu and finds out that the blend acts like super-HGH and every great pitcher can throw on 2 days rest. There's no reason to believe that the trend to limiting innings will continue. Scott Boras IV could put a Wins clause into every major league contract.

Overall, however, the article is right. We have to think about eras when thinking about achievements.

It's just distracting that Eric would fall victim to missing his own point in assuming that the trends we see now will continue in the future.

Sep 25, 2010 07:53 AM
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