Five Baseball Achievements Never To Be Seen Again

Dan McConeCorrespondent IMay 14, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 13:  Pitcher Randy Johnson #51 of the San Francisco Giants throws a pitch during the game with the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 13, 2009 at Dodger Stadiium in Los Angeles, California.  The Dodgers won 11-1.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

As I was thinking about typing up a story to publish and thought to myself, now that Manny Ramirez has been caught cheating and people like David Ortiz are "all of the sudden" on a power shortage, what affect will the new steroid policy have on baseball? I went immediately to home runs, which led me to this:

What are the top five baseball achievements we will never see in our lifetime?

50 Home Runs in a Single Season

Remember when George Foster hit 52 home runs in 1977? Then there was 13-year drought before Cecil Fielder hit 51 in 1990 for the New York Yankees. From 1995-2008, 23 players hit 50-plus home runs. Eighteen players did it from 1900-1994.

What a scary era baseball lived in from 1995 to now. Tainted. With the focus on steroids, seeing 50 home runs will be rare. If it does happen, people will begin to question that player. Now players do not want their legacy questioned over steroids. You will see a huge decrease in home runs. That’s why 50 home runs will never happen.

100 Stolen Bases

We live in an era with baseball that is all situational. Gone are the days of Rickey Henderson, Vince Coleman, Lou Brock, and Tim Raines—when these guys got on, they would steal at will. And not just steal just second, they’d go for third.

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The last player to steal 100 bases was Vince Coleman, who achieved the feat in 1987, with 109 thefts. Since 1987, one player had over 90, one with over 80, and 10 with over 70. The closest threat may be Jose Reyes. Every stolen base is dependant upon the game situation, and each player that runs is scrutinized. You never see a manager let a player run when they want.

300 Strikeouts

Can you tell me the number of pitchers who have struck out 300 or more batters since 2002? Zero. The last? Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling in 2002. Sure there are many pitchers with a lightning bolt attached to their shoulders, but hitters crave the fastball.

Justin Verlander throws peas at 100-plus mph. His most strikeouts in a season? It hasn’t even topped out at 200. Pitchers are pampered and innings pitched is such a focus for general managers that they will have their aces skip starts to rest their arms.

.400 Batting Average

Everyone knows the trivia question, who is the last man to hit over .400 in a single season?  Ted Williams in 1941 with a .406 average.  That achievement has only been truly challenged three times since.  Rod Carew in 1977 with a .388.  George Brett in 1980 with a .390 and Tony Gwynn during the strike shortened season of 1994 when he was hitting .394.  

Today, we do not see the disciplined hitter like Gwynn, Brett, Carew or even the likes of Wade Boggs or Pete Rose.  We see free swingers looking to make the highlight reel on ESPN.  Nobody, outside of maybe Ichiro, takes pride in just being a contact hitter or hitting for average.  Today’s players swing for the fences and too often are striking out.

300 Wins

Now, let me preface this by saying, after Randy Johnson wins hit 300th game, will we never see another pitcher do it again. Soak it in when he does because you’ll never see it again.

Like I previously said, pitchers are pampered and babied.  They are nurtured through the minor league system until they are in their mid-20s, when they are finally called up.  The new thing is to send a player down to avoid arbitration, a la David Price.

Think about this scenario: A player is finally called up at 25 years old and is effective until he is 40.  That player needs to average 20 wins a season.  We all know a rookie struggles the first couple of years and loses his effectiveness when age begins to pile up.  Gone are the days of 20-21-year-olds being called up and letting loose on the mound.  Gone now are your 300-game winners.