MLB's Most Unbreakable Records

John LewisSenior Writer IJune 25, 2008

I'm sure there have been many articles written over the years about the best baseball achievements and what can or can't be broken. But as I sit here, looking at my autographed picture of Pete Rose, I'm reminded at just how great he was.

So how do you measure what constitutes the best records of all time?

The obvious choice would be that a career statistic is more impressive than a single-season one, and that some sports are regarded as more superior than others.

So without further adieu, here's my list of top sports records broken down by career and season.

1. Cal Ripken's streak of 2,632 straight games played

For anyone to actually challenge this record, they would have to play every game for nearly 17 seasons to break it. With the length of each season, and length of each postseason, the wear and tear on a player's body would eventually catch up with him.

2. Pete Rose's 4,256 career hits

Everyone thought Ty Cobb's hit total was unbreakable, but Rose passed it and added a few more to the total. If you averaged 200 hits for 20 years, that gets you to 4,000, then you are still 256 behind the record. Maybe if you play long enough, you can come close, but that's your only hope.

3. Cy Young's 511 wins

This doesn't deserve the top spot because he played in an era where you pitched every other day, and you pitched the entire game. Just as remarkable, Young also had 749 complete games. So, with set-up men and closers, there is no way anyone will win 500 games.

One small note on the number of complete games, only two pitchers have even started more than 749 games, Nolan Ryan 773 and Don Sutton 756. 

4.  Nolan Ryan's 5,714 career strikeouts

Ryan was an amazing story. He's one of the few hard throwers to pitch in his 40s. Currently, he's nearly 1,100 ahead of second place Randy Johnson, who's 44-years old. I think it's safe to say no one will catch this record in the next 1,000 years...if baseball survives that long.

5.  Ty Cobb's .366 lifetime batting average

Even though Cobb retired in 1928, well before the era of offense, he's stood the test of time. One of his records was broken, but I don't see anyone ever reaching this, even with the steroids and other PEDs.

It's hard to include all the best career marks so here's my honorable mentions:

Nolan Ryan's seven no-hitters, Walter Johnson's 110 career shutouts, Hank Aaron's 6,856 total bases, Babe Ruth's .690 percent career slugging percentage, Rickey Henderson's 1,406 career steals, and Pete Rose's 3,215 career singles.

1.  Joe DiMaggio's 56 game hitting streak

The streak began on May 15, 1941 and ended on July 17. The next closest streak is Willie Keeler and Pete Rose at 44 games, and he had 22 multi-hit games, 15 HR, and 55 RBI. What is incredible is when the streak ended, he hit safely in the next 16 games.

2.  Mike Marshall's 106 games and 208.1 relief innings in 1974

In the set-up and closer age, there is no one that could come close to this record. Only one other pitcher has approached the number of relief innings, Bob Stanley had 168.1 in 1978. The amazing part is that this was accomplished a short time ago, and as workloads are less and less, this stat will hold up.

3.  Carl Hubbell's 24 straight regular-season wins

He accomplished this over a two-season span from July 17, 1936-May 27, 1937, which may be tougher to do. Forget the fact that he lost Game Four of the 1936 World Series, he won 24 straight games.   

4.  Eric Gagne's 84 consecutive saves

Gagne saved 84 straight from August 28, 2002-July 3, 2004, and while it didn't take place over one season, it's still an amazing stat. The next closest is 54, by Tom Gordon. Several closers have put together remarkable seasons, but 84 straight will be tough to challenge.

5.  Johnny Vander Meer's two consecutive no-hitters

In 1938, Vander Meer had two no-hitters in consecutive starts on July 11 and 15 and is of course the only player to do so.  It's hard enough to throw one no-no, take Nolan Ryan out of the conversation, much less back-to-back.

Honorable mention: Rickey Henderson's 130 steals, Ed Reulbach's two shut-outs in one day, Ichiro Suzuki's 225 singles, Billy Hamilton's 192 runs scored, Owen "Chief" Wilson's 36 triples, Charlie "Old Hoss" Radbourn's 59 wins, Barry Bonds' .609 percent on-base percentage, Bonds' 120 intentional walks, and Hack Wilson's 190 RBI.

I'm sure there are other impressive stats you feel belong.



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