For whatever reason records in baseball seem to matter more than in other sports. While the steroid era changed that somewhat players of today will always be compared to those who came before them, whether it be 10 years ago or 100 years ago. There are several other unbreakable baseball records, such as Nolan Ryan's career strikeouts, Ty Cobb's career batting average, and Cal Ripken's consecutive games played, but here are the top five I would bet the house nobody ever breaks:
5. Hitting Safely in 56 Straight Games
Earlier this season, before Jackie Bradley Jr. was even halfway to Joe DiMaggio’s record of 56 straight games with a hit, his at bat’s became must watch television across the country. This is the first reason nobody will ever hit safely in 57 straight games. There would be too much pressure from the media coverage of any streak that reaches 30. There are other reasons too. DiMaggio accomplished the feat in 1941, before baseball had expanded west. He logged a lot less travel miles and crossed a lot fewer time zones that players today do.
Also, DiMaggio’s streak took place before the color barrier was broken. Nowadays MLB is composed of the best players in the world with athletes coming from Japan, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and more. The competition is greater. Lastly, it’s a different game being played. DiMaggio would often see a pitcher for the fourth of fifth time that day since starters consistently went deeper into games. In 2016 bullpens are built with specialists and multiple guys throwing over 95. This would make it a lot tougher to get a hit in the late innings. The longest streak of the past decade was Jimmy Rollins hitting in 38 straight split between the 2005 and 2006 seasons.
4. Winning Five Consecutive World Series
This is another where the rules of baseball make it impossible to do. In the 18-year stretch from 1936 to 1953 the Yankees won a whopping 12 championships. As recently as the late ‘ 90’s New York won four out of five from 1996-2000. Small market teams simply could not compete so baseball did two things. First, they added a wild card team in 1995 to keep more teams in contention longer in the season. Second, they instituted a revenue sharing system to allow for more competitive play.
MLB will never have a salary cap so the Yankees, Red Sox, and Dodgers will likely always have higher payrolls than most, but overall the revenue sharing system has seemingly worked. In the 15 years since 2001 baseball has seen 10 different teams win it all. The craziest part? We haven’t seen a repeat champ since the 99-00 Yankees, who won three in a row dating back to ’98. Also, the growth of free agency has made it harder to keep winning teams together.
This has forced us to change the meaning of the term dynasty. Dynasties, for the most part, are dead unless you consider the Giants’ even year streak a mini-dynasty. With the addition of the second wild card in 2012 we may not see a repeat champ for a while, let alone anybody winning five in a row.
3. Batting .406 In A Single Season
Similar to the reasons for DiMaggio's hit streak, Ted Williams' .406 1941 season will never be matched. The media would be in a frenzy, the bullpens are better, players are traveling more, MLB has expanded, etc. Yet the biggest reason ma bye that we simply look at batting average differently today than we did in 1941. Back then batting average was arguably the most important stat for a hitter. Players weren't looking to walk as much since the value of OBP wasn't fully realized and accepted until earlier this decade.
We also know that batting average can be a little fluky. Some teams, such as the Rays, don't even use average in their player analysis and opt for average exit velocity. The only way anybody would come close to .400 these days is with an insanely high batting average on ball in play, where a hitter would need extreme luck on batted balls finding holes in the field. The closest any player has come recently would be Tony Gwynn's .394 mark set in 1994. Others include Larry Walker's .379 in 1999 and Ichiro (2004) , Nomar (2000), and Todd Helton (2000) all hitting .372.
2. Hitting 762 Career Home Runs
One of the biggest shames of the way the steroid era played out is that we will never celebrate Barry Bonds' home run record the way we celebrated Hank Aaron's. The all time home run record used to be the most important record in sports. Now it's an afterthought. Right now there are still many who view Bonds as a cheater. But over time there will be less and less. Eventually a new generation of baseball writers will be voting for the Hall of Fame. They won't care about steroids and will realize players used an insane amount of amphetamines for decades to gain a competitive advantage. They will realize that what Bonds did in using steroids is not as much of a character flaw as Ty Cobb's racism and tendency to legit fight fans. They will remember 1998 and how that summer brought baseball back from the strike. It will take time, but it will happen.
As far as the record goes the obvious reason it won't be broken is that the steroid era is over. Of the 27 players in the 500 home run club, an astonishing 12 played their primes during the steroid era. Seven of the top 12 players on the all time home run lists were a part of this era. So much went right for A-Rod in terms of how dominant his prime was and how long he played yet he finished 66 homers shy of Bonds' total. The only legitimate threat right now is Albert Pujols, who is sitting at 589. While he has an outside shot at 700, those additional 62 will be impossible to come by. After him and possibly Miguel Cabrera it could be over a decade until another player even reaches 600.
1. 511 Wins
For a pitcher to ever win more games than Cy Young he would have to average nearly 20 wins per season for 26 years. This, of course, is impossible considering there is usually only one or two pitchers who reached 20 wins a season. Cy Young accomplished that 10 times. He won 30 games five times and played until the age of 44.
There are real reasons to believe we will never even see another 300 game winner, yet alone 500. This is because pitchers just cannot avoid injuries, specifically Tommy John surgery that sidelines them for 12-18 months. Similar to batting average, we also no longer value the win the way we once did since we've realized factors such as your team's offense, defense, and bullpen play too big of a factor.
Lastly, pitchers are pulled well before they have the chance to even get the win these days. In 2015 Chris Sale led MLB with five complete games. To put that in perspective Cy Young threw complete games in 700 of the 815 he started. He was able to accumulate wins just by pitching deep into games. It is not only the most unbreakable baseball record, but perhaps the most unbreakable record in all of sports.