Baseball is a game that is all about numbers and stats. When it comes to measuring the best players and the best MLB teams ever, records matter. The game gives great respect to those who hold records. In some respects, the best MLB records are the ones that will be the most difficult to break.
After all, these would be the most impressive, right? With that as the litmus test, let’s take a look at some of the great MLB records of all time.
Rickey Henderson’s 1,406 career stolen bases
There are a lot of fast players in the majors nowadays, but they don’t steal bases at the rate Rickey Henderson did.
Advanced analytics have devalued the stolen base because it’s not worth the risk if most of the lineup is trying to hit a home run. In that sense, no modern player is going to attempt enough stolen bases to get anywhere close to Henderson’s mark. The active leader in stolen bases is Dee Gordon, who has 333. Even that number will be tough to top for most active players.
Of course, nobody deserves the record more than Henderson, who was an artist when it came to stealing bases.
Cal Ripken’s 2,632 consecutive games played streak
Nobody is ever going to come close to Cal Ripken, who played every game for more than 16 years.
Frankly, staying in the league for 16 years is going to be difficult enough, much less being good enough to play every day. Even the players who are good enough aren’t going to play 162 games every year.
In the 21st century, Prince Fielder reached 565 straight games. Even with the DH in play and a pinch-hitting appearance being enough to extend the streak, 16 years is a long time.
Nolan Ryan’s 5,714 career strikeouts
The funny thing about this record is that pitchers are striking out more batters than ever. However, Nolan Ryan’s record is still insurmountable, largely because he played for 27 seasons.
How many strikeout masters can pitch that long? Keep in mind that Ryan averaged 211 strikeouts per year for 27 years. Even if a pitcher could average 300 strikeouts per year, it’d take over 19 seasons to break the record. Justin Verlander is the active leader at 3,013 and he won’t come close. Even 33-year-old Clayton Kershaw isn’t even halfway to the record.
Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hit streak
One of the greatest players in MLB history will forever hold this record.
There are simply too many strikeouts in the game and too many good pitchers to get a hit in 50-plus games. In the 21st century, Jimmy Rollins reached 38 straight games with a hit with Whit Merrifield more recently getting to 31 games. Nowadays, getting to 40 would be something special.
Ichiro’s 262 hits in a single season
The same reasons why DiMaggio’s streak is safe can also be applied to Ichiro Suzuki’s record.
When he set the record in 2004, Ichiro won the batting title with a .372 average.
That alone will be hard to reach, but getting to 262 hits would require batters to exchange walks for hits.