Organized baseball in this country dates back to the late 1800s. And pretty much every milestone possible has already happened.
Clinching a World Series on a walk-off home run? It’s happened twice. Hitting two grand slams in one inning? You bet. Father and son duo blasting back-to-back home runs? Check. Hitting a bird with a ball mid-pitch? Also, check.
But some records manage to standout above the others. They’re so monumental, so insurmountable, that not only will they never be broken, but they’ll never even be challenged.
These are those records.
10. A club winning 117 or more games in a single season
Winning 100-plus games used to be a common occurrence in baseball. But since the beginning of the 2000s, teams regularly surpassing the century mark
has tapered off.
Only 12 teams have won 100 or more games in the last 15 years, with a majority of those coming thanks to the loaded New York Yankees, who topped 100 wins four times between 2000-2010.
Three teams won 100-plus games each in 2002 and 2003, but we haven’t had multiple teams win 100 or more games since 2005 — which was also the same year St. Louis won 105 games, the most the sport has seen this millennium.
Considering that 95 years passed between the Chicago Cubs and Seattle Mariners each winning 116 games in a single season, and that the most a team has a come close to tying them was still two games shy, it will probably be another nine decades before we see another team come close to 116 wins.
9. Hank Aaron’s 2,297 career RBI
Not too long ago, Hammerin’ Hank held the record for two of baseball’s Triple Crown categories: home runs and RBIs. And if not for Barry Bonds and BALCO, he’d still be the home run king.
Aaron’s 2,297 total RBI over 23 seasons doesn’t get as much press as his home run record, despite the fact that only three other players (Babe Ruth, Cap Anson and Alex Rodriguez) managed to bring in 2,000-plus runs.
A-Rod — mathematically — could catch Aaron. Rodriguez has averaged 46 RBI over the last three seasons. But he’ll need to bring home about 200 more runners over the next few years to surpass Bad Henry.
But let’s face it, Rodriguez’s numbers are more juiced than a mojito. Seeing his name among the top 5 in RBI leaders only stirs sordid memories from the game’s most tainted era.
8. Ichiro Suzuki’s 262 hits in a single season
Ichiro was born to hit. The man simply knows how to get on base. He is the ideal lead-off hitter, possessing the ability to reach safely through either finesse or power hitting.
And in 2004, during his fourth season with the Mariners, Ichiro made history. He logged 262 hits to break George Sisler’s single-season record of 257, which stood for nearly ninety years.
No one has come close since. Well, except for Ichiro.
He’s the only active player in the top 25 on the all-time single-season hits list. In fact, he pops up twice: In 2001 — during his rookie year, no less — when he belted 242 hits and again in 2007, when he racked up 238.
Only a handful of players over the last 30 years even appear in the top 50. Wade Boggs had 240 hits in 1985 with the Boston Red Sox. Don Mattingly had 238 for the Yankees in 1986. And Minnesota’s beloved Kirby Puckett peppered 234 hits in 1988.
What further distinguishes Ichrio is the way he’s sustained such impressive hitting. During his first 10 years with Seattle, Ichiro never got less than 200 hits in a season.
We’ll never see another player like him.
7. Pete Rose’s career hits record
While Ichiro may have taken the mantle from Pete Rose as this era’s best hitter, Rose’s longevity will never be duplicated.
The 17-time all-star smashed 4,256 hits during his 24 major league seasons, breaking legendary outfielder Ty Cobb’s record of 4,191 in 1985. The record couldn’t have fallen in a more storybook-like fashion, as Rose captured it in Cincinnati while playing for his hometown Reds.
To top it off, Cobb and Rose are the only members of the 4,000 hits club.
6. Nolan Ryan’s 5,714 career strikeouts
For some reason, Nolan Ryan’s career strikeout total isn’t remembered as well as other historical baseball numbers. Maybe because 5,714 doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as easily as 61 or 714.
During his 27-year career, Ryan lead the American League in strike outs nine times in three different decades, even topping the National League in strikeouts in 1987 and 1988.
Similar to the all-time home run records, A.J. Burnett C.C. Sabathia are the only active players in the top 50 on the career strike outs list. And both are in the twilight of their careers and more than 3,000 strike outs shy of Ryan.
Ryan also fanned 383 batters in 1973. While that mammoth feat is only good for eighth place on the all-time single season strikeout list, it was the most any player fanned in one year since 1900.
5. Ricky Henderson’s 1,406 career stolen bases
If Ricky Henderson got on base, pitchers were in trouble. Henderson was going
to steal second — and maybe even third.
Henderson’s dedication to baserunning was nothing short of remarkable. He stayed in immaculate shape despite 25 seasons in the majors. His work ethic paid off in 1998, when at the age of 40, Henderson lead the majors in steals for the 12th time in his career, swiping 66 bases.
The drop off between Henderson and Lou Brock — the second-most prolific baserunner in MLB history — is staggering. Although Brock played six fewer seasons, he’s nearly 500 bases behind Henderson.
Ichiro, Carl Crawford and Jose Reyes are the only active players among the top 50 career stolen base leaders. Combine their career totals and they’re still short of Henderson by more than 400 steals.
So short of these guys finding some P.F. Flyers, this record isn’t going anywhere.
4. Pitcher Denny McLain’s 31-win season
Pitch count? Pitchers in the 1960s didn’t need no stinking pitch count. Sometimes they threw 10-plus innings just for a win in July. Other times they threw all nine innings in a 10-run blowout.
Either way, pitchers of yore stayed in games longer and threw more than they do today. In the 1960s and 1970s, it was just as commonplace to see a pitcher with 20 or more wins — and double digit complete games — as it was to see a player in the 1990s blasting 60-plus home runs.
Several theories try to explain why it’s rare in the post-steroids era for pitchers to win more than 20 games. Fewer starts, strict adherence to the pitch count and advanced scouting often are cited as the primary reasons.
The closest anyone’s come to replicating McLain’s magical season with Detroit in 1968 was Steve Carlton and Bob Welch, both of whom won 27 games in 1972 and 1990, respectively.
A handful of pitchers have won 24 games since then, including Detroit’s Justin Verlander in 2011. But it’s safe to say that this record isn’t going anywhere soon.
3. New York Yankees’ five straight World Series titles
Consider this: since 1960, only four teams have won back-to-back World Series titles.
And only two teams pulled off the three-peat: Oakland (1972-74) and New York (1998-2000). Cincinnati and Toronto also won back-to-back championships in 1975-76 and 1991-92, respectively, while the Yankees also captured consecutive titles in 1961-62.
Incredibly, New York managed to reach a fourth consecutive World Series in 2001, but the Yankees eventually fell to the Arizona Diamondbacks in seven games.
All of the aforementioned champions were very special teams. They were loaded with talent, had incredible luck, and in some cases, benefited from an extremely short postseason.
After the players’ strike in 1994, MLB restructured its playoff system. Each league was divided into three divisions – East, West, and Central – and allowed one wildcard team. Now, instead of just the League Championship Series decide the pennant, an extra three-game series was added: the best-of-five Divisional Series.
Since the implementation of the new postseason in 1995, which was changed again in 2012 to include a second wild-card team, only Philadelphia, Texas, and the aforementioned Yankees have appeared in consecutive World Series. The Phillies went 1-1 in their two appearances while the Rangers went 0-2.
And in today’s world of professional sports, where winning a championship often sparks the mass exodus of talented players, it seems highly unlikely that a club could keep a corps of talented players together long enough to capture six consecutive World Series titles.
2. Barry Bonds’ four straight MVP awards
Consecutive MVP winners aren’t that rare in baseball. But to have four seasons like Bonds had in the mid-2000s will never happen again.
Taking into account that Bonds was abusing Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs), it’s unfathomable to think that someone can tear off five seasons in a row all worthy of MVP honors, especially when you realize that only eight players outside of Bonds have three or more MVPs — none of which they won more than two years in a row.
And if someone did, it’s likely that they’d be even more juiced up than Bonds ever was.
After Bonds’ retirement in 2007, it appeared that Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols might eventually catch him in total MVPs. Pujols won three MVPs in a span of six years with the Redbirds, capturing back-to-back honors in 2008-09.
But since Pujols’ departure to the Angels, his numbers have declined significantly. The same goes for A-Rod — the only other player to win three since MVPs in the last 10 years.
It appears that Bonds’ record seven MVP awards, are safe, if not tainted.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers win five consecutive ROTY awards
Talk about catching lightning in a bottle.
In the 1990s, the Los Angeles Dodgers were responsible for bringing up some of the best young talent of the decade. And the organization was rewarded handsomely for it, as a Dodger received the National League Rookie of the Year Award five straight times between 1992-96.
First baseman Eric Karros kicked off the streak, winning Rookie of the Year honors in 1992. Catcher Mike Piazza followed him in ’93; then came outfielder Raul Mondesi. After Mondesi it was pitcher Hideo Nomo – the first while outfielder Todd Hollandsworth rounded out the streak when he captured the award in 1996.
While this core nucleus helped the Dodgers reach the playoffs in 1995 and 1996, it also ushered in the notion that Japanese players could have a major impact in the majors. Nomo’s accomplishments paved the way for other Japanese pitchers like Yu Darvish, Hideki Okajima, and Daisuke Matsuzaka, as well as for all-stars like Hideki Matsui and Ichiro.
Major League Baseball has countless records that will never be broken. Several were too absurd to make this list. They include numerous pre dead-ball era and dead-ball era pitching feats: most wins in a season, 59; total wins, 511; and most complete games in a season, 75.
Others worth mentioning are the most All-Star Game’s played (Hank Aaron, 25), Ty Cobb’s .366 career batting average, the 1899 Cleveland Spider’s 101 road losses, and the league’s longest hitting streak — which stands at 56 games and was set by the immortal Joe DiMaggio in 1941.