Wednesday, January 20, 2010

An Amazing Feat

I am starting to warm up to the MLB Network...while I feel that they have WAY too many analysis shows, it is also the middle of winter right now and they don't have any new stuff to analyze. Last season I totally got sucked into the nightly baseball feature (the name slips me at the moment) where they would shoot you around to different games around the league. While I subscribe to the MLB Extra Innings package, this little program is a great way to get up to the moment stats and highlights and checking in on the nights best games. Okay, I am done with the free plug.

So this weekend I was watching a little MLB and they were highlighting Mr. Cal Ripken Jr. The program highlighted Cal's amazing consecutive game streak and showed clips of game #2131 and beyond (as well as the end of the streak in Yankee Stadium, when the entire Yankee dugout and fans gave him a standing O...those classy sons-of-guns. Cal holds the all-time MLB record that now stands at 2632 consecutive games.

Today I thought it would be fun to reach out to the blogosphere and talk about baseball records that they find amazing...and perhaps unreachable. Records that will forever stand the test of time. Some thought that Roger Maris' 61 HR's would never be topped, and unfortunately thanks to the Jamba Juice, it was...but will it ever (legitimately) be surpassed.

Being a fan of pitchers, I stumbled upon this 2007 Masterpiece card the other night and started thinking about the amazing stats on the back of the card... Walter Johnson - 417 wins! And then there is this fella...

Cy Young (Looking very Jim Belushi) - An amazing 511 wins! In fact, here are the top five:

Cy Young: 511 wins

Walter Johson: 417 wins

Grover Alexander - 373 wins

Christy Matthewson - 373 wins

Warren Spahn - 363 wins

Looking at some current players on that top 100...Randy Johnson (now retired), Jamie Moyer, Pedro Martinez, Andy Pettitte, and John Smoltz. (Greg Maddux finished with 355 wins, and Roger Clemens with 354). These remaining current players are at or near the end of their long careers, and will most certainly NOT break the all-time record, nor reach 400 wins either.

How did they do it?

Let's start with some lines, focusing on merely wins, losses, total games (including no-decisions) and total innings...
Cy Young - 511 wins, 316 losses, 906 total games, 7354 innings pitched
Simple math here...just to reach this many innings for a career means that Cy Young would have had to pitch an average just over 8 full innings per game for 22 years! Also note that Cy Young came into the league at 23 years of age, and retired at a reasonable age of 44. This would also create an average wins per season at 23.22.
Walter Johnson - 417 wins, 279 losses, 802 total games, 5914 innings
By the same equations, Walter would have had to have pitched an average of almost 7.5 innings per game and he averaged 19.8 wins over 21 seasons and retiring at age 39
Lets now compare a couple recent retirees
Greg Maddux - 355 wins, 227 losses, 744 total games and 5008 IP.
Greg averaged about 6 2/3 innings per game and 15.4 wins per season for 23 seasons and retiring at age 42.
Randy Johnson - 303 wins, 166 losses, 618 total games and 4135 total IP
The Big Unit also went about 6 2/3 IP per game and averaged 13.2 wins per season for 23 years, retiring at age 45.
Nobody else on the active roster is even reasonably close to warrant a comparison at this point. I could look at Roger Clemen's numbers, but I choose not there.
There can be any spectrum of factors that can explain why the early pitchers seemed to produce more wins...maybe it was the lack of middle relievers, maybe less injuries, maybe a smaller rotation....or maybe their stuff was just wicked, but regardless I think it is pretty much a safe bet to say that 511 wins will never be broken, and even 400 during the modern age of baseball seems like a stretch. I would LOVE to see it happen, especially with one of my phenoms, but only time will tell...and by the looks of things it will take at least 22 seasons, so I have plenty of time to wait.
What other records do you just look at and marvel, shake your head and say that they can't be beat? Or on the other side of the coin...which of these great records do you believe Can and Will be beat...and who will that person be?


  1. You want an even more amazing record? Look at Cy Young's complete game record. you will be stunned.

  2. MLB Network is the best... I love this show they run about stadiums. Don't know what it's called, they just featured a minor league park in Montana.

    Toughest record to beat would be Jeter's all time Yankees hit record. In fact, Upper Deck should do a Derek Jeter Legacy set, one card for each hit. Maybe even a relic card for each hit...

    If not that record, second hardest would have to be 511 wins. Guys just don't pitch often enough any more to come close, so I can't see it ever even being CLOSE to challenged. Others, like .409 Average and the 56 game hit streak get flirted with every season almost, so eventually they'll fall.

  3. Here's one you don't normally think about... Triples. Sam Crawford had 309 in his career, 14 more than Ty Cobb. The closest active players are Johnny Damon and Jimmy Rollins with 95.

  4. That is a boatload of triples! As for the Jeter record, I would imagine that it will some day fall in that trampoline of a stadium, except for the fact that the Yankees only find guys in their prime and them unceremoniously dump them a couple years later. Red Sox do the same though, to be fair