The Top-Ten MLB Batting Records: Are They Really Made to be Broken?

Wednesday May 30th, 2012

Robert Whitmer:  Baseball is the only sport where everything is tracked and recorded.  How many times did Nomar Garciaparra tap his feet in the batters box before he finally got settled and took a pitch?  I don’t know but I’m sure some guy with a clipboard has counted that on every pitch and even broken it down by situation.  Maybe he does it more on a 2-2 count than he does on a 1-2 count.  Does it really matter?  IT’S A FREAKING TOE TAP!  I don’t see how it does matter but deep down there could be some relation of number of toe taps to how his approach at the plate varies.  I remember reading an article the winter after McGwire finished his 70 home run season and he said something about people counting the number of cups of coffee that he drank in the clubhouse before each game.  I’m telling you; baseball tracks EVERYTHING!  There are single season records and career records.  I will rank, starting at the most likely to be broken to least likely, my 10 coolest hitting records that I can find. With of course, a little bit of commentary on the side. 

So….  Without further ado (I feel like David Letterman here), I have in my hand the Top-ten list for today!


10. Career Cycles, 3, Bob Meusel, Babe Herman

            I think that this record will fall.  To complete it a player must be well-rounded.  Speed to leg out the triple, and power to knock one over the fence.  Plus we are talking career here not single season.  If this was single season it would be high up on the list.  Matt Kemp would be the one to break this one. 

9. Career Grounding Into Double Play, 350, Cal Ripken Jr.

            This I put in here mostly because I was shocked when I saw this.  I had no clue that Cal, as good of hitter as he was, grounded into that many double plays.  This one will be broken.  Vlad has done it 277 times so far.  He is a tad older but Pujols is at 237 and he has a lot of playing left in him. 

8. Home Runs in a Game, 4, Thirteen Players

            I am actually really surprised that this record didn’t fall during the steroid era.  This is a difficult task to do but I think that we have enough young players that have pop AND a good lineup behind them to not only get 5 at-bats per game but knock all 5 out of the park.  If I had to pick three players I would say Matt Kemp, Bryce Harper, and Mike Trout.

7. Hits in a Season, 262, Ichiro Suzuki

            This is based purely on the player, not really his team.  All they have to do it hit, and hit, and hit, and hit.  I don’t really need to say any more than that.  I think that Josh Hamilton has a legitimate shot at this record falling.  He has 64 hits in 50 games so far this year.

6. RBI’S in a Season, 191, Hack Wilson

            This is an individual record based off of a team effort.  To get an RBI you obviously have to have people on base in front of you and then drive them home.  Manny being Manny racked up 165 in 1999.  To have a shot, you really need to have about 100 – 125 by the all-star break.  That alone is a very tall order to accomplish.

5. Consecutive Game Hitting Streak, 56, Joe DiMaggio

            These last five could all be number one.  Nobody will ever break this record but out of the final five I suppose this is the most likely to fall.  One hit per game for 56 games is very hard.  I think if anyone has a chance I think that player in the mold of Adam Jones.  He is a solid hitter and seems to find holes.

4. Career Steals, 1,406, Ricky Henderson

            Nope, Never. Will not happen.  Don’t even try to make a case for anyone.  Ricky was the best base stealer there ever has been and ever will be.  The high active leader is Juan Pierre at 560.  He’s got 900 to go.  Won’t happen.  If you think you know someone who will reach it, you can argue it with me on twitter (@rwhitmer).

3. Batting Average in a Season, .426, Nap Lajoie

            The last person to even hit over .400 did it in 1941 (Ted Williams).  Think of all the stuff that has happened since 1941.  Five major U.S. wars, invention of the television, answering machines, cassette tapes, cd’s, cell phones, computers, the very internet you are reading this on, heck; some people probably still thought the world was flat.  That’s how long it’s been. 

2. Career Inside the Park Home Runs, 55, Jesse Burkett

            This is just absolute absurdity.  55 inside the park home runs!  I can’t even begin to tell you who the active leader in this category is.  This is a combination of ball placement and speed, speed, and more speed.  Obviously this record will never be broken.  When a player hits one, you see the highlight on sports center.  Imagine if they had TV when this guy was playing.  ESPN would have put together a 5 minute compilation of all 55 when the guy retired and played it in fast forward on the 6 A.M. show.    

1. Career Steals of Home, 54, Ty Cobb

            Another absurd record.  What kind of jerk steals home 54 times!?  I say jerk because Ty Cobb was notorious for being a player that was not liked by his peers.  Maybe this is why.  Casey Stengel once said that Cobb was the best baseball player that ever played.  He is also the owner of one of the records that will never be broken.


So there they are.  They say that records are made to be broken, and that may be true.  There are five that could be broken and five that will never be broken.  Time will pass on and civilization will continue to advance.  These records will stand the test of time.  I love this game and I love the records that the game possesses.  I knew of some of these but, especially the last two, I had no clue what the record was or who held it.  To all of those guys who sit behind home plate with their clip boards keep ticks and putting lines on pieces of paper, and to the guys who watch endless video for the MLB stat department I say “thank you.”  You make learning about this game fun.  Keep on putting those lines on the paper and keeping track of how high Craig Counsell holds his bat on a 3-2 count with runners on first and third with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning with his team trailing by two runs, compared to how high he holds it on a 1-2 count with no runners on and one out in the top of the third inning and his team up by one run. Because gosh dang it, we love you for it.  This article is for you!

***Today’s feature was prepared by Robert Whitmer, MLB reports Baseball Writer.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Robert on Twitter (@rwhitmer)***

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Posted on May 30, 2012, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. 64 in 50 games is still nowhere even close to the pace needed for 262+ hits in one season.

    Watch out for Billy Hamilton, if he gets to the pros quickly, he could be a guy to make a run at Rickey’s record….but let’s be honest, that’ll probably stand a long, long, long time.

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