In a previous post for Bat Flips and Nerds, I looked at 10 records in baseball which appear to be unbreakable.
It is disappointing to think that some prestigious achievements in the game will likely never be bettered, for a variety of reasons.
But fear not baseball fans because for every record that is unassailable, there are others which are candidates to be broken.
Last year, we witnessed the all-time home run record for a season go as well as the single-year long ball record for a rookie and just this season we saw the somewhat random one set for the most pitches seen in a plate appearance as it took 21 just to retire Brandon Belt.
Let’s take a closer look at some interesting and some even curious milestones which you can’t rule out being usurped some day and who the contenders are to break them.
Most strikeouts in a single season – 223
Strikeouts are on the rise in baseball, that much we all know.
While it may be bad news for those lamenting what it means for the game and the art of hitting, it is good news (of sorts) for fans hoping to see a new record set.
The current landmark stands at 223 and was achieved by Mark Reynolds in the 2009 season but that seems an absolute certainty to go before too long and possibly even this season.
In the top 30 for single season strikeouts, a worryingly high five entrants took their place on the list by virtue of their 2017 totals: Trevor Story, Khris and Chris Davis, Joey Gallo and Aaron Judge.
Baltimore Orioles slugger Davis played only 128 games but still managed to strike out 195 times and if he had reached the 150 mark, he would have blown past Reynolds on the records list.
He seems the perfect candidate to set the new landmark if he plays regularly as in the top 20 on the all-time list, he takes up four of the places thanks to his K count in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017.
With the strikeout becoming an ever more frequent occurrence in the game, it seems that the question will not be if this record goes but rather a matter of who is going to be the unfortunate hitter to take their place atop this unwanted group.
Team home run record for one season – 264
While strikeouts are on the rise, a big factor behind that could be pointed to the eagerness of hitters to focus on launch angle and going yard.
In 2017, the MLB all-time record for total homers in a single year was absolutely obliterated with 6,105 being hit across both league and all 30 teams.
The biggest candidate to break the record either in 2018 or in the coming seasons appears to be the New York Yankees, whose new breed of Bronx Baby Bombers have been tipped by some to do just that.
Pre-season projections had them hitting 250, which puts them short of the record but in their first 47 games, Aaron Boone‘s men belted 79, which puts them on pace to smash the current benchmark and reach 272.
Of course, things are never that simple but this is a record which is likely to come under big threat soon and it isn’t hard to see why New York’s scintillating sluggers are favoured to do so.
Career record for being hit by pitches – 287
Hughie Jennings holds this record for being hit by pitches, whether it be intentional or otherwise, and across his 18-year career, he was sent to first base by that painful method on 287 occasions.
This isn’t an easy record to break because theoretically, it is one which a player has no real control over and there is no great skill involved in comparison with others.
It isn’t the kind of record you are going to sit the grandchildren down someday to tell them about how you were better than any other man in the game… at being the victim of poor pitcher command or perhaps even retaliation.
However, all that said, there is one candidate who stands out in the game today who could be on track to set a new high in that regard and that man is Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo.
As of the time of writing, the 2016 World Series winner has been plugged by pitches 106 times in his 944 career games, for an average of a hit every 8.9 games he plays.
If the ever reliable and consistent everyday Cub slugger can keep hold of his position for say the next 11 seasons, not an unrealistic proposition (even if he has to move on to do so) and stays injury free, he’d be on course to do that.
Rizzo’s style in this regard is also a massive help as his well-known penchant for crowding the plate makes him a big candidate for being plunked and if he can average 150 games (a total he has slipped under just once in the last five years) then he’d be on track to not only beat the record but perhaps even break 300.
Worst ever season batting average (team) – .208
In 1888, the Washington Nationals set an unwanted record in futility by registering a disappointing batting average of just .208 as a team.
That was in a season in which they finished with a record of 48-86 and had a negative run differential of -249, unsurprisingly finishing last in the National League.
Again, this is another record which no team would ever want to break but when you consider the recent and growing trend in baseball to tank and race to the bottom, this may not be the only milestone we see set in a negative manner.
The model of the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros has been noted and others are attempting to influence it as they sacrifice any kind of competitive season in order to stock up and build for the future.
That could even see a record such as this broken, unlikely as it would appear, as teams essentially attempt to outdo each other to plummet deepest in order to compete down the line but even if this doesn’t go, don’t be surprised if similar kind of unwanted records are set in the coming years.
When it comes to contenders to set those, I’m not looking at anyone in particular, Miami.
Successive scoreless innings – 59
This one is tougher than most but hey, nobody said that setting records was an easy thing to do as the current holder Orel Hershiser will attest to.
That being said, it is one that doesn’t strike you as being an impossible one to break and with the right pitcher in the right run of match-ups, it could fall.
Don’t be surprised if it’s a Dodger who does it though as the current holder Hershiser, pitching for the Los Angeles side, took the previous record in 1988 from a fellow Dodgers legend in Don Drysdale.
In the years since then, it has also been men pitching for the Chavez Ravine outfit who have flirted with it most frequently too.
Given the history with this record, let’s be bold and say that it will be broken and it will be a Dodger to do it.
First man to play MLB games in 5 different countries
I couldn’t help myself with this one. Given the excitement around the upcoming London Series in 2019, I had to find a way of finding out which record(s) could be broken in the English capital.
Aside from the obvious ones such as first man to homer in Europe (spoiler alert: it will be Aaron Judge), a little (okay, a lot) of digging resulted in me happening across an interesting statistic.
When that game is played in the summer of 2019, it may provide one man with the opportunity to become the only player ever to contest a Major League Baseball game in five different countries.
Who is that man you ask?
None other than Hanley Ramirez, who to the best of my knowledge (although I stand to be corrected) would become the only player in the history of MLB to play a game in five different countries across three continents.
Now admittedly, this was a section which had been written before the surprising news dropped on Friday that the veteran had been designated for assignment by the Red Sox, likely depriving him of the chance to make history.
He has already ticked the United States of America off the list of countries he has played in (obviously) by playing there on many occasions after first making his debut there in September 2005 when the Red Sox took on Tampa Bay.
Given the division the Red Sox compete in, it has also offered him the chance to take on the Toronto Blue Jays on Canadian soil several times, taking his tally to two.
In June of 2008, during his days as a shortstop, he was part of the Florida Marlins side who took on the New York Mets and won a three-game set 2-1 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Ramirez dusted down his passport once again in March 2014 in his time as a Los Angeles Dodger to travel with the side to Australia and sweep the Arizona Diamondbacks in a two-game set at Sydney’s Cricket Ground.
This season, the Red Sox have enjoyed making opposing pitchers look silly and I got a little taste of that myself when my research was made to look rather foolish after the Boston club opted to offload the man who was on the verge of history.
The only hope that I can cling to in that regard is, well, Ramirez has left Fenway Park once before and returned. Who is to say it won’t happen again?
Should he wind up back at Boston (or, could you imagine, the Yankees) and remain injury free (and my research is in fact correct), then he will take his place in the record books as MLB’s greatest jetsetter: a Hanley Globetrotter if you will.