Updating MLB Records That Can Be Broken Before Season's End
While they say that records are made to be broken, the number of all-time marks that fall—or that are danger of falling—in a given MLB regular season can usually be counted on one hand.
That's not the case in 2013, as teams, players and the entire sport have taken aim at some of the more well-known—and obscure—records in baseball history.
While Joe DiMaggio's 61-game hitting streak and Rickey Henderson's single-season record of 130 stolen bases are safe, other records aren't so lucky.
Let's take a look at the all-time marks that could fall before the regular season comes to an end.
*Unless otherwise noted, all statistics and records are courtesy of Baseball-Reference or FanGraphs and are current through games of September 19.
Most MLB Strikeouts in a Season
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MLB Record: 36,426 (2012)
Current Pace of 2013 Batters: 36,511 strikeouts
This one is going to be close, folks.
At their current pace, this year's crop of major league batters will eclipse 2012's record-setting total by a mere 85 strikeouts. By itself, that number does a great job of showing just how close things are going to be.
But let's delve deeper.
There has been an average of 15 strikeouts per game this season—and there are only 129 of those left on the regular season schedule. What would happen if, for whatever the reason, that average dropped by one measly strikeout per game the rest of the way?
Take 240 strikeouts away from this year's group—and kiss the record goodbye.
Most Home Runs in a Single Season by a Player 40 or Older
MLB Record: 34 (40-year-old Darrell Evans, 1987)
Who Could Break It: Raul Ibanez (28 home runs)
While 40-year-old Raul Ibanez has eluded Father Time for much of the 2013 season, the veteran is running out of time to catch Darrell Evans' 26-year-old record for most home runs by a player in his 40s.
With only nine games left on Seattle's schedule, asking Ibanez to slug the six home runs he'd need to catch Evans might be asking too much.
Then again, maybe not.
Ibanez has a combined eight home runs against the three teams he has left to face this season: Kansas City and division rivals Los Angeles and Oakland.
No team in baseball has surrendered more bombs to Ibanez than the A's have this season (four), while the Angels are right behind, accounting for three more home runs being added to Ibanez's season total. Two of Ibanez's three multi-home run games this year came against Los Angeles and Oakland.
Asking Ibanez to hit six home runs in nine games might be too much to ask from the 18-year veteran, but he couldn't have asked for more favorable matchups down the stretch as he tries to pull it off.
Fewest Errors Made by a Team in a Single Season
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MLB Record: 57 errors (1994 Baltimore Orioles)
Who Could Break It: Baltimore Orioles (46 errors)*
Nearly 20 years after Cal Ripken, Brady Anderson, Rafael Palmeiro and company set the modern-day standard for defensive excellence, a new generation of Orioles, led by Manny Machado, Adam Jones and Chris Davis, is set to shatter their predecessor's mark.
"This is the best defense they've ever had," Hall of Fame pitcher and career Oriole Jim Palmer told the Baltimore Sun's Childs Walker. "It's pretty simple."
It's hard to argue with him there, as Baltimore's fielders simply don't make mistakes when the ball is hit their way.
Nick Markakis is the only everyday right fielder in baseball who has yet to commit an error, while 1B Chris Davis, LF Nate McLouth, C Matt Wieters and CF Adam Jones are all within two errors of the top spot for their respective positions.
Ironically, it's Manny Machado, Baltimore's 21-year-old phenom who is considered by some to be the best defensive third baseman in the game, that leads the team in errors with 13, one of only two Orioles to crack double-digits (SS J.J. Hardy, with 10, is the other).
Realistically, the only way that Baltimore doesn't beat its own record is if the team decides to take the field without gloves—and even that might not be enough to stop the Orioles from fielding the ball cleanly.
*Tampa Bay could, theoretically, break the record as well, but with 55 errors on the season, the Rays would need to play flawless defense for the rest of the season to pull it off. Even if they did manage to go without an error for the rest of the year, Baltimore would still be the record holder with a nearly double-digit lead.
Most Pitchers 25 Years Old or Younger in a Single Season
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MLB Record: 221 (2006 and 2007 are tied)
Who Can Break It: 2013 MLB pitchers (207*)
In a day and age where pitch counts and innings limits are supposed to protect a pitcher's arm and extend a pitcher's productive years, MLB teams are relying on more youngsters than they ever have before.
Of the 20 seasons that have featured the highest number of pitchers that are 25 years old or younger, only five occurred before the 2000 regular season—and none of those rank in the Top 12.
Currently sitting in fourth place on the all-time list, we are 14 youngsters away from seeing the 2013 regular season tie the all-time record.
With just over a week of the regular season remaining, it's going to be difficult to have that record fall in 2013—but it's not out of the question.
*Pitchers who were 25 or younger as of June 30 of that season.
Most Defensive Runs Saved in a Single Season
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MLB Record: 34 (Adam Everett, SS, 2006 Houston Astros)
Who Could Beat It: Andrelton Simmons, SS, Atlanta Braves (41)
Defensive Runs Saved, or DRS, hasn't been around for very long, and while it's true that a player's ability in the field cannot be quantified by a single statistic, there's definitely value in the numbers.
Seeing as how the statistic has only been in use for a decade, some of the great defensive shortstops in baseball history, like Omar Vizquel (in his prime) and Ozzie Smith, aren't included in the field when it comes to the field of candidates for the record.
That said, none of that takes away from the season that Andrelton Simmons is having in the field, something that Braves broadcaster Chip Caray talked about with MLB.com's Mark Bowman recently.
Whether it's barehanding a slow-roller, fielding the ball on the edge of the outfield grass and firing across his body to nail a runner at first or leaving the ground to make a play, Atlanta's 24-year-old shortstop's defense has been as big a part of Atlanta's success this season as anything else.
Most Career Seasons with at Least 45 Saves
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MLB Record: Three (Record shared by Dennis Eckersley, Eric Gagne, Mariano Rivera and Francisco Rodriguez.
Who Could Break It? Mariano Rivera (44 saves in 2013)
It wasn't supposed to end like this for Mariano Rivera, with the greatest relief pitcher of all-time looking like a mere mortal and failing to appear in the playoffs for only the fourth time in his 19-year career.
Yet Rivera sits on the precipice of making history, needing only one save to move ahead of Eckersley, Gagne and K-Rod as the only pitcher with four 45-save seasons on his resume.
In the grand scheme of things, this record would certainly fall towards the bottom of the list when it comes to Rivera's accomplishments in the game—but it'd still be nice to see Mo go out on a high note.
Highest Single-Season Team Fielding Percentage
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MLB Record: .989 (Shared by five teams, most recently the 2008 Houston Astros)
Who Could Break It: Baltimore (.992)
Yes, we've all heard the arguments about how fielding percentage is an overrated statistic and not an accurate way to measure a player's fielding ability, yet it remains a staple of how we measure defensive value and efficiency.
It should come as no surprise that Baltimore, on track to shatter the franchise's own MLB record for fewest errors by a team, is also on track to break the team fielding percentage mark as well. What is somewhat surprising, however, is that the 1994 Orioles are not one of the five teams that share in this record.
That group posted a combined .987 fielding percentage, a mark that it shares with more than 20 other teams in baseball history.