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Tom Jones' Two Cents

Sports analysis, perspective and more.

Can anyone break these records?

Sometime soon Barry Bonds will break Hank Aaron's home run record. And then our next question will be: Will anyone break Bonds' record?

Here's my take, as well as some of baseball's other great records and feats.

All-time home run record
Arod My guess — and it's just a guess — is Barry Bonds will end up with around 775 lifetime homers. So can anyone break that record? Ken Griffey, 37, had 586 coming into the weekend, but he still needs four more 50-homer seasons, and I don't see that. No, the best chance is by Alex Rodriguez. He has 493, and say he ends up with 510 or so by season's end. He turns 32 this month. If he can play another 10 years and average 26-and-a-half homers, he'll be at 775. If he averages 30 over nine seasons (that seems very doable), that would put him around 780.
Chance of record being broken: 75 percent.

Single-season home run record
Bonds_3 Barry Bonds holds this record with 73 in 2001. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa are the only others to hit at least 65 in a season, and we know the rumors surrounding all three. Ryan Howard hit 58 last season. A-Rod's best is 57 in 2002. That's still 16 homers short. Bottom line is no one, aside from 1998 when McGwire and Sosa played home run derby with one another, has really come close.
Chance of record being broken: 5 percent.

Career victories: pitcher
There's a reason baseball's best pitchers each season win an award named after Cy Young. The guy won 511 games. Of course, it came in an era (1890-1911) when they pitched until their arms were about to fall off. Young started 815 games. By comparison, 44-year-old Roger Clemens has started fewer than 700 — and he only has 350 wins. So think about it. If someone pitched for 25 seasons and averaged 20 victories, he would still be 11 shy of Young.
Chance of record being broken: None.

30-win season: pitcher
Detroit's Denny McLain was the last to win 30 when he went 31-6 in 1968. Those were the days of four-man rotations, so McLain had 41 starts that season. Compare that with, say, Greg Maddux, who has never started more than 37. With 162 games and five-man rotations, pitchers, at most, will get around 34 starts. (That's how many the Twins' Johan Santana had last season when he went 19-6.) Could a pitcher win 30 of 34 starts? Statistically, it’s possible. Realistically? I'm thinking no.
Chance of record being broken: 5 percent.

Hitting streak
Dimaggio_2  Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak always has been one of baseball's magic records, mostly because it has stood since 1941 and has never really been threatened. Pete Rose came the closest in 1978 with a 44-game streak. Other than that, no one has broken 40 games. (By the way, DiMaggio, immediately put together a 16-game hitting streak after the 56-game streak was snapped.) I'm not sure why more haven't come close to this record. I'm guessing the use of relief pitchers, especially the specialty one-batter relievers, has made this record tougher to break. But you would think that a speedy contact hitter — a guy such as Ichiro who can leg out infield hits and bunts to keep a streak alive — might have a chance.
Chance of record being broken: 15 percent.

Career hits
Jeter_2  When Pete Rose broke Ty Cobb's hits record and ended with 4,256, most assumed Rose's record would never be broken. But do you realize Derek Jeter has more hits at this stage of his career than Rose did at the same point of his career? Jeter, in his 13th season, came into the weekend with 2,266 hits. He's only 33. By season's end, he will be about 1,900 hits short. That's another 10 years of 200-hit seasons, so it’s possible. But two things: Will Jeter still have the desire to play at, say, age 42? And the other thing: There is no way he will break the record if he keeps playing the highly demanding position of shortstop. He'll eventually have to move to first base.
Chance of record being broken: 50 percent.

Stolen-base career record
Henderson Rickey Henderson holds the record with 1,406. Kenny Lofton is the active leader, and he has only 619. People just don't steal bases anymore. Jose Reyes led the majors last season with 64. Henderson had more than that 10 times, including six seasons of 80 or more.
Chance of record being broken: 5 percent.

The RBI record
Hack Wilson's record was made even more unbreakable just a few years ago when baseball research discovered a missing RBI. So his record of 190 RBIs in 1930 jumped to 191. Of the top-25 RBI seasons, only two have occurred in the past 50 years — Manny Ramirez with 165 in 1999 and Sammy Sosa with 160 in 2001. Any hitter cleaning up like that probably won't be pitched to in crucial situations. With so many more teams hanging in the pennant race because of the wild card, teams need to win and simply will pitch around big run-producers.
Chance of record being broken: 5 percent.

Baseball's Ironman streak
Ripken_2  Baltimore shortstop Miguel Tejada had the fifth-longest in major-league history when he recently went down with a broken wrist, snapping his streak at 1,152 consecutive games. And he wasn't even halfway to the record of 2,632 by Cal Ripken. The longest active streak? No one is even at 400. Some said Lou Gehrig's record of 2,130 would never be broken. Well, I'm saying Ripken's mark will never be broken.
Chance of record being broken: None.

Another .400 hitter
Teddy Like the hitting streak, there hasn't been a .400 hitter since Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941. Again, relief specialists have made this a tough number to crack. The guys with the best chance are speedy contact hitters. Problem is, they usually hit near the top of the order and simply bat too many times in a season. The only chance a guy has is if he's like George Brett in 1980 when he hit .390. Brett only played 117 games that season because of injury, and there was a question if he would get enough at-bats to qualify.
Chance of record being broken: 10 percent.

[Last modified: Monday, June 14, 2010 2:40pm]


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