As another disgraced ballplayer received jeers for steroid abuse (Hi, Manny Ramirez, we’ve been expecting you), the baseball record books became further muddied in the water.
We already have endured Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro, Miguel Tejada, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettite, and …oh yes… hundreds of others yet to be named.
OK, we get it. Baseball players and Russian Olympians had more in common than we originally thought. Let’s move on.
One thing is abundantly clear. The Major League Record Book now reads like a used college textbook with highlights, asterisks, and dog-eared pages all over the place. Throw the thing out already, it’s useless.
What we need is some clarity. How we can organize this mess so it makes some sense to a reasonable baseball fan?
Oh, and thanks Bud Selig. You can go now. Your services are no longer needed. Thanks for playing.
With the help of Baseball Prospectus and Baseball-Reference.com, I have created the NEW Major League Baseball Record book. It actually compares baseball players who played during similar times, with similar equipment, against similar competition, and using similar drugs.
OK, so we no longer have only one home run champion, but now a bunch of kiddies get a trophy! Isn’t that what Americans like nowadays, anyway?
I just don’t think you can compare Babe Ruth to Hank Aaron when he didn’t have to face ALL of the best pitchers of the day. I don’t know if you recall, but they made Satchell Paige pitch in the back alley in the “other” league. And he didn’t have to actually serve the food on the train rides to games in other cities. No airplanes either. He was well rested and amply nourished, to say the least.
And, we might as well group ALL the juice-heads together. After all, they were playing against each other, so there is some point of reference here. It’s kind of like eighth-grade Algebra where the two negatives cancel each other out.
So, without further adieu, here is the NEW (and improved) Baseball Record Book, adjusted for common sense. It is a bit thicker, but now there will be less books you need to purchase to fill out the third shelf in your grand library.
Baseball Infancy (Pre-Integration) 1901-1948
HR-Babe Ruth 714
HITS-Ty Cobb 4189
SINGLE SEASON HR-Babe Ruth 60
WINS-Walter Johnson 417
STRIKEOUTS-Walter Johnson 3509
Golden Age (Post Integartion) 1949-1957
Runs from the re-establishment of baseball post World War II until the relocation of the Giants and Dodgers from New York to California. Fairly stable period featuring relatively high levels of offense.
HR-Duke Snider 311
HITS-Stan Musial 1732
SINGLE SEASON HR-Ralph Kiner 54
WINS-Robin Roberts 182
STRIKEOUTS-Robin Roberts 1344
Expansion Era (1958-1969)
The westward expansion of baseball, and a jump from 16 to 24 teams. Full racial expansion of the sport. Offensive production varied wildly from year to year.
HR-Hank Aaron 444
HITS-Hank Aaron 2238
SINGLE SEASON HR-Roger Maris 61
WINS-Juan Marichal 191
STRIKEOUTS-Jim Bunning 2397
Dynasty Era (1970-1976)
The period right before full-blown free agency. Three teams (Cincinnati, Oakland, and Baltimore) accounted for six of the seven World Series titles. Offense was relatively low, which led to the DH in the American League in 1977.
HR-Willie Stargell 223
HITS-Pete Rose 1435
SINGLE SEASON HR-Willie Stargell 48
WINS-Catfish Hunter 146
STRIKEOUTS-Nolan Ryan 1854
Balanced Era (1977-1985)
The 1977 season saw offense increase as Major League Baseball expanded to 26 teams and a new manufacturer of baseballs.
HR-Mike Schmidt 327
HITS-Cecil Cooper 1613
SINGLE SEASON HR-George Foster 52
WINS-Ron Guidry 154
STRIKEOUTS-Nolan Ryan 1998
Canseco Era (1986-1993)
Begins with Canseco’s Rookie of The Year and ends with the last full season before the 1994 strike. Saw a large year-to-year fluctuation in offensive levels.
HR-Joe Carter 247
HITS-Kirby Puckett 1632
SINGLE SEASON HR-Cecil Fielder 51
WINS-Roger Clemens 147
STRIKEOUTS-Roger Clemens 1833
Juiced Era (1994-2006)
One of the great booms in baseball history. Associated with small ballparks, small strike zones, and widespread steroid usage.
HR-Sammy Sosa 518
HITS-Derek Jeter 2150
SINGLE SEASON HR-Barry Bonds 73
WINS-Greg Maddux 218
STRIKEOUTS-Randy Johnson 3418
The Mitchell Report Era (2007-present)
Drug testing brought to the forefront to regain control of game performances. 50 game suspensions begin. New, smaller ballparks abound.
HR-Ryan Howard 101
HITS-Ichiro Suzuki 485
SINGLE SEASON HR-Alex Rodriguez 54 (how'd you sneak in here)
WINS-Roy Halladay 42
STRIKEOUTS-Johan Santana 495
So, there you have it. Isn’t it ironic that the most “non-juiced” guy in the world, Greg Maddux, led everyone in wins during that era? Kind of like a mouse hitting an elephant in the nuts, isn’t it?
Sorry, Barry and Mark. Sammy is king of the juicers.
Also, Nolan Ryan? Stud. Led two different eras in strikeouts.
Best ballplayer? You have to give credit to Hank Aaron. He not only led his era in home runs, but also led it in hits. Gotta love The Hammer.
Walter Johnson and Robin Roberts? Never saw them pitch, but they must have been tossing some mean spitters.
And who thought Cecil Cooper and Joe Carter would be ANYWHERE on this list?
You can order your copy today, free of charge. Just call 800-FIRE-BUD.