Records are made to be broken – or are they?

Cy_YoungOn this day in 1911, Cy Young got his 511th career win, still the all-time record. Hard to see how that will ever be topped. Pitchers rarely win 20 games in a season anymore, so to average that for 25 plus seasons….yea, can’t see it happening. So is 511 wins that hardest record to break? Depends on how you look at it.

For starters, people only look at “good records”, and never the bad ones. Cy Young also had 316 career losses – also the all-time record. If a pitcher were losing 15 games a year, would they be around for 21 seasons? No way. As unlikely as 511 wins is, how would someone even have the opportunity to approach 300 losses? So is that harder than 511 wins?

The other issue is what about records that are simply impossible due to the way the game is played. Cy Young had 749 complete games. Since 1999, there has been just one time in which a pitcher reached double digits in complete games for a season – and that was a mere 11.

So what is the most difficult record to break? And should we adjust for the era the player played in? Would 400 career wins today be harder than 511 in Young’s era?

31 thoughts on “Records are made to be broken – or are they?

  1. Consecutive games played will be a tough one. It may happen one day, but it will be really hard. I mean, the current streak is held I believe by Manny Machado at around 130-140 games.

    Ty Cobb’s career BA of .366 may never fall.

    Also the most complete games by a pitcher may never fall now that pitchers almost never complete games anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I would venture to guess that the record for most beers consumed during a game will stand unbroken…not that Pierzynski doesn’t make half-hearted efforts.


    • Ah yes, it was 1952, Milt Famy consumed 9 beers consumed in the bullpen. Unfortunately, he ended coming in and issued base on balls to 4 straight batters, and his team lost. Afterwards, the winning players pointed to all the empty beers can, and noted “That’s the beer that made Milt Famy walk us”

      Liked by 2 people

    • That’s what gets my dander up! Nolan Ryan is the definitive case study of being league replacement except for maybe 20 career starts.

      No hitters, yeah his.
      Strike outs, yeah his.

      Walks? Yeah, but no manager will ever let their pitchers do anything like that as they wouldn’t let a pitcher get that many innings. So, yeah his!

      Beating up a person who thought that he was a bad ass, WHILE punching with the pitching hand? THAT’S why he’s a HOF, the rest is not gonna happen naturally. His record is secure, but can we all agree that he is a five-hundred pitcher that had twenty great outings?

      Really, I am sure that I am the only one, but every time he faced a team on T.V., as long as he didn’t strike out the side, at least to me, he lost the aura of eliteness. Then he would go on to win or lose 8-7.

      I’m guessing that this is not going to be popular, but I think that he is average other those twenty outings, AND it took him twenty five years to even become a 300 winner….

      Barry Bonds, pantheon of HOF!

      Ryan?….yeah I get it, but, not a pantheon HOF.


  3. I’d have to say the safest records of all are single-season IP. Obviously no one is going to touch good ol’ Will White’s 680 IP in 1879, but the game was a lot different back then. Even the modern era mark set by Wilbur Wood (376.2 IP in 1972) is unattainable. Heck, no one has broken 300 IP since Carlton in ’80. Great recent workhorses like Randy Johnson and Roy Halladay couldn’t even come close to 300 IP. Given the cautiousness with pitchers and the gradual decline of IP, I can’t see a scenario where a modern day pitcher even breaks into the top-500 list all-time.


    • Funny you mention that! I do have to admit to stealing this idea from a SI article from about 25 years ago, talking about which record would be hardest to break. They led with a guy from Elias who gave it a long pause and then said soemthign to the effect of “Well, we never like the idea of sayign ANY record can not be broken, because things can always change in unfroseen ways. But I would have to say 75 Complete Games in one seasons”. They then used that to illustrate the concept that some records are impossible because the game is no longer played that way


  4. Pingback: Beer League Baseball | Hardball Conversations

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