With 51 home runs heading into September, Giancarlo Stanton is set to approach the 61 bombs that Roger Maris smacked in his historic 1961 season for the New York Yankees. Stanton made interesting remarks recently in which he stated that he felt Maris actually holds the single season home run record, not Barry Bonds, who hit 73 home runs in 2001. Bonds’ mark is marred by supposed steroid use.
Stanton’s incredible season allows us to remember the fantastic seasons of Maris and Bonds as well as many other impressive single season records. So, what are some of the most unbreakable single season records in the history of Major League Baseball, and which current players are most capable of breaking them?
Hits: Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners (264)
Who could break it: Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
It’s incredible to consider Ichiro’s record upon realizing that today’s best pound-for-pound hitter has not even come close to the 264 mark. Altuve had his most hits, 225, in a 2014 season in which he owned a .341 batting average. This season, Altuve has a .355 average but will still not surpass the 264 hits. In an age of baseball that emphasizes on base percentage, thus increasing walk rates, and power- which decreases batting averages- it’s extremely difficult to foresee anyone breaking Ichiro’s record. But if anyone is to do it, Altuve is the most obvious contender.
Stolen Bases: Rickey Henderson, Oakland Athletics (130)
Who could break it: Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati Reds
Hamilton’s lightning speed is reminiscent of Henderson’s, but this record still appears to be unbreakable. Henderson stole 130 bases in 1982 and the closest anyone has come since was Vince Coleman’s 110 mark in 1985. Aside from the obvious talent it took Henderson to steal so many bases, this record will be difficult to break because of the way baseball is played today. As part of the sabermetric movement, players do not attempt to steal as many bases as they did in decades past. This is a similar thought process to why bunting is also less prevalent- it’s the possibility of handing away a free out.
As a career .247 hitter, Hamilton will have a tough time ever getting on base often enough to steal even 80 bases, but he is the only modern player that possesses the skill to get to 100.
Hitting Streak: Joe DiMaggio, New York Yankees (56)
Who could break it: Joey Votto Cincinnati Reds
Let’s get something straight. Nobody, especially in the age of three true outcomes, is even going to approach Joltin’ Joe’s record of 56 consecutive games with a base hit. Even all-time hit king Pete Rose could not top DiMaggio’s feat, although he came close in 1978 with 44 straight games with a hit.
But if forced to select a current player that is best suited to surpass DiMaggio’s claim to fame, Votto is the best fit. He is a player that excels in keeping at bats alive, although this often leads to walks, which do not count for the record.
The bottom line is that it would take an incredible amount of luck for any player to break DiMaggio’s record. If anyone could combine that luck with a high level of bat on ball skill, it would most likely be the Cincinnati first baseman.
Pitching Wins: Jack Chesbro, New York Yankees (41)
Who could break it: Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox
Could you imagine a pitcher winning 41 baseball games today? Let’s start with the fact that to win 41 games in a season a pitcher would need win a game every 3.9 days. It would also require a pitcher to play on a winning team and eat up a monster amount of innings. Chesbro pitched 452.2 innings in his record setting season.
It’s safe to say that nobody will ever break this record or pitch that often ever again, but Boston’s Sale is the best in baseball at winning games and eating innings. He is currently tied for the Major League lead in wins with 15, in the lead for innings pitched at 185.1, and fifth in ERA with 2.77 mark.
Earned Run Average: Dutch Leonard, Boston Red Sox (0.96)
Who could break it: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
Leave it to the greatest pitcher of his generation to set a record this remarkable. Kershaw has a career 2.04 ERA in an age with inflated offensive statistics and a de-emphasis on starting pitching. He has separated himself from the pack routinely throughout his career. Kershaw is a first ballot Hall of Famer who will go down as one of the best pitchers to ever step foot on a mound.
But he will never have an ERA under 1.00. No one will.
Much like the the rest of these records, Leonard’s 0.96 will stand the test of time. It comes from a different era of baseball and does not lend itself to the nature in which the game is played today. Yet because of Giancarlo Stanton’s race to 60, we are reminded of these phenomenal feats.