Major League Baseball was much different in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Some of the records that were made during those eras will never be broken in the modern era of baseball. Most of these records have stood the test of time for 70+ years. Yet, nobody has come close to breaking them.
Here is a list with some of the most unbreakable records in MLB history:
Career Wins: Cy Young (511 Wins)
Bob Welch was the last pitcher to win more than 24 games in one season. Welch won 27 games with the Oakland Athletics in 1990. In 2011, Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander joined John Smoltz and Randy Johnson as the only pitchers since 1996 to win 24 games in one season.
A pitcher would have to average at least 25.56 victories in 20 seasons to break this record.
Regular-Season Wins: Jack Chesbro (41 Wins In 1904)
A 162-game season with a five-man starting rotation averages to about 32 or 33 starts for each pitcher. The top four pitchers could start more games if the No. 5 starter is skipped during weeks with off-days. Even then, no pitcher will get 41 starts in one season, much less wins.
Shutouts: Pete Alexander (16 Shutouts In 1916)
Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee was the first pitcher since Randy Johnson in 1998 to record six shutouts in one season. There's too much emphasis on relief pitching and protecting the long-term health of starting pitchers for 16 shutouts to occur anytime soon.
Balks: Dave Stewart (16 Balks In 1988)
Balk totals skyrocketed for the entire league in 1988. Oakland Athletics pitcher Dave Stewart went from 16 balks in 1988 to zero balks in 1989. The MLB regular-season record was broken within six weeks after opening day. Recondite Baseball has a detailed explanation about the bizarre increase in balks.
Batting Avg.: Hugh Duffy (.440 Batting Average In 1894)
Hugh Duffy finished with a .440 batting average in 1894. Ted Williams was the last player to hit .400. Williams had a .406 batting average in 456 at-bats with the Boston Red Sox in 1941. A .400 on-base percentage is a tremendous accomplishment nowadays, much less a .400 batting average.
RBI: Hack Wilson (191 RBIs In 1930)
Hack Wilson had 191 RBIs in 1930. Manny Ramirez and Sammy Sosa are the only players to have more than 159 RBIs since 1938. Ramirez had 165 RBIs in 1999, while Sosa had 160 RBIs in 2001. This was during the steroid era.
Runs Scored: Billy Hamilton (198 Runs Scored In 1894)
Billy Hamilton was a left-handed hitter who scored 198 runs in 1894. Tom Brown and Babe Ruth are the closest contestants with 177 runs scored in the 1800s and early 1900s. Jeff Bagwell had 152 runs scored in 2000. Alex Rodriguez had 143 runs scored in 2007.
Walks: Barry Bonds (232 Walks In 2004)
Barry Bonds was walked 755 times from 2001 through 2004. Bonds was walked 177 times in 2001, 198 times in 2002, and 232 times in 2004. Those three regular-season totals are the most in MLB history. Babe Ruth was walked 170 times in 1923.
Triples: Chief Wilson (36 Triples In 1912)
Triples weren't that uncommon in the early 1900s. Chief Wilson is one of three players to have registered more than 30 triples in one season. Wilson had 36 triples in 1912. Curtis Granderson is the only player since 1945 who has recorded more than 22 triples in one season. Granderson had 23 triples with the Detroit Tigers in 2007.
Stolen Bases: Rickey Henderson (130 Stolen Bases In 1982)
Rickey Henderson had 130 stolen bases as a 23-year-old in 1982. Hugh Nichol holds the overall record when he had 138 stolen bases in the American Association in 1887. However, stolen bases were tracked much differently in the 1800s. Base runners were credited with steals if they advanced more than one base on a hit from another batter.
Joshua Huffman grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula as a Green Bay Packers and Chicago Cubs enthusiast. He immediately gained an admiration for Cubs fans after watching numerous games on WGN during the mid-90s. His favorite Cubs moment was Kerry Wood's(notes) 1-hitter, 20K extravaganza that was only denied of a no-hitter by Kevin Orie's defensive blunder. As a Packers and Cubs fan, he suffered through Steve Bartman and "4th & 26" in a span of three months.
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