The Unbreakable Records, Volume Two

If anyone is going to challenge the single-season runs scored record, it might be Charlie Blackmon. (via Jennifer Linnea)

Baseball is built on history. Baseball also is built on numbers. Where the two meet, with the most remarkable and extreme performances in the game’s history rendered into numbers, we get records.

We baseball fans love those records. We love seeing them stand, unchallenged through the decades, and we love seeing them fall, toppled by some fresh burst of brilliance or long campaign of sustained excellence. Or sometimes the opposites of those traits: failure can be as compelling as success.

Some records are simply beyond reach, either due to changes in the game or the sheer incredible performance that produced them. The reason why nobody will topple Cy Young’s mark of 749 complete games is different from the reason why nobody will surpass Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak, while the security of Nolan Ryan’s 5,714 career strikeouts is probably a meld of the two. (Your estimates may vary. Indeed, I’d be surprised if they didn’t, at least a little.)

Several years ago, I took interest in some of those unassailable records and tried to imagine ways of breaking what seemed unbreakable. I meant to return to the subject but never quite got off the ground until several weeks ago. That’s when Asa Beal and Michael Wentworth proposed that some tail-end teams make concerted, even exaggerated efforts to break team records to make their otherwise dreary seasons exciting.

I’d say their noble effort got me off my backside, but it’s just the opposite. They got me on my backside, on the chair in front of my keyboard, finding some more insurmountable hurdles to clear.

Today, I give you the results, a new installment of unbreakable records that may not quite be so. Cy Young does not need to worry, but another paragon of baseball longevity might want to look over his shoulder.

Longest continuous managerial tenure

The record: There are several ways one can count records for managerial longevity, but the same person holds them all. That man is Connie Mack.

He managed the most seasons in the majors, with 53. He managed the most consecutive seasons with one team, going 50 years with the Philadelphia A’s. This is also the most consecutive years managing in the majors, however many teams, and the most total years with one club. His dominance holds just as well if you count by games: 7,755 in total, 7,466 with the A’s.

There is a way to cut down Mack’s numbers to something mortally comprehensible. Connie fell ill during a Red Sox series in August of 1937 and eventually yielded 34 games in the dugout to his son, Earle Mack. One thus can consider Connie’s consecutive string to have been broken at that time, even though he was back for a full season in 1938. This knocks his consecutive seasons down to about 36 and three-quarters and his consecutive games to 5,552.

Amazingly, this fragment of Connie Mack’s managing career is still longer than anyone else’s lifetime tenure. Tony LaRussa tops out at 5,097 games, and he and John McGraw spent 33 years as skippers. Any way you slice it, Mack’s endurance in the dugout is untouched and looks untouchable.

That’s why it’s here. That’s why I’m here.

How to break it: To imagine how to break the record, it helps to examine how Mack set the record. He first helmed the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1894 as a 31-year-old player-manager. He joined the newly formed Athletics in 1901, still in his thirties. Not only was he their manager, he owned a quarter of the team. By 1912 his share was 50 percent, and in the late 1930s, he and his family became outright majority owners.

Thus, you need a really early start, and you need the job security that comes with being your own boss. The latter has a snag now. Major League Rule 20[e] states:

No manager or player on a Club shall … have any financial interest in the Club by which the manager or player is employed except under an agreement approved by the Commissioner …

This rule – found not in the rulebook of the game, but in the more obscure rulebook of the league – was issued during the late 1920s when Rogers Hornsby was traded to the Giants while still owning a piece of his previous team, the Cardinals. This is the same rule Ted Turner ran afoul of when he named himself manager of his Atlanta Braves for one game (he lost). I must assume Connie Mack’s situation was grandfathered into the rules or perhaps was handled by “an agreement approved by the Commissioner.”

Could such an agreement be made again for a current manager? Yes, probably. Players are traded all the time, but managers virtually never are. The rule’s wording came from an era when player-managers were far more common and looked back on a time when, for instance, John McGraw had played havoc by jumping between teams. (McGraw also might have needed a grandfather clause, owning a piece of the Giants as well as managing them.)

The main concern would be insuring the owner-manager didn’t wind up connected to another team without selling his share first. Such a bar seems easily arranged and enforced. It’s just a matter of whether the Commissioner would smile on the arrangement. If it’s something negotiated in advance, rather than Ted Turner trying to out-Steinbrenner George, most likely he would.

Next question: How does a manager end up with an employment-insuring piece of a baseball team? It was easier in Mack’s day, when teams cost far less. Now, you have to be seriously loaded to own a meaningful piece of a baseball team. As loaded as … a superstar baseball player who’s cashed in on huge contracts.

The obvious comp is Derek Jeter, though I should note that his share of the Miami Marlins is a lot smaller than his profile as part-owner is. Still, it’s proof of concept: A player can become an owner. It’s the intermediate step of becoming a manager that promises trouble.

For a Mack-surpassing 37-year tenure, a manager would need to start in his mid-30s to break the record while still in his early 70s. Start later, and you necessarily end later, and the list of managers 75 years or older basically starts and ends with Mack. (Casey Stengel’s tenure with the Mets ended days shy of his 75th birthday due to a hip fracture and replacement.)

Even past an owner-manager’s advantages, the age barrier isn’t what it once was. We live longer, and are healthier later into life, than we did in Mack’s day. Fans will accept, even embrace, an old manager if he is still an able manager. That acceptance isn’t essential for an owner-manager chasing the record, but it smooths the way.

Still, it’s better to avoid as much of the manager’s seventies as possible. He needs an uninterrupted tenure to crack Mack, and age does bring infirmities. A bout of pneumonia, a tumor, even a fall at home could break the string (unless he’s wise enough, like Ned Yost, to have his trouble during the offseason).

How early can his managerial career begin? Looking at recent long-tenured managers, it can be quite early. Tony LaRussa managed his first MLB game at age 34. Buck Showalter debuted at 35. Bobby Cox, Joe Torre, and (to reach back a little further) Sparky Anderson began managing at 36. That mid-30s start I mentioned before is entirely plausible.

The hitch is, we’ve postulated a superstar ballplayer with pockets deep enough to buy into a team. Retiring from play by 35 to switch to managing would cost him much of that money, much of his share, and with it, much of the guarantee of his employment. This is a roadblock … unless before becoming an owner-manager, he starts as a player-manager.

That’s a fossil species, though, seemingly as extinct as the 300-inning pitcher. The last one in the majors was Pete Rose, from late 1984 to 1986. Before him was Joe Torre, for two plate appearances in 1977, and before that Frank Robinson, during 1975 and ’76. That era is past, and experts will say that because of the evolution of the role of manager, notably in time-consuming media relations, it cannot come back.

I dissent. I think it confuses the peripheral with the essential. I believe a player-manager could still happen, especially if it’s a beloved, face-of-the-franchise player getting the promotion, much like Pete Rose. (Younger readers may not know it, but Rose truly was beloved by Cincinnati fans, even after he’d been playing with other teams for years. He still is beloved there, decades after his expulsion.)

Unlikely? Perhaps, but only unlikely, not impossible. Players become superstars; players get the managing itch early. Nothing prevents the two from combining, except that those who look to managing early tend to do so because it’s their lone path to a long major-league career. (The aforementioned Torre and Robinson are notable exceptions.)

There is now something resembling a timeline for our notional record-breaker. He’s a superstar player who gets the urge to manage and convinces his team to give him the double-duty in his mid-30s. (Maybe it’s the price he extracts for staying with them his whole career.) He plays until 40 or so, then decides to invest much of his playing fortune in the team he’s managing. He clears it with the Commissioner and becomes manager and part-owner, perhaps using his manager’s salary to add to his equity.

He is successful, at least usually, and never disastrously bad. In time, fans can’t imagine him not being in the dugout, and for a long, long time, they don’t have to. Ownership, the part that isn’t him, is content to stick with him. He becomes an institution, almost synonymous with his franchise, as fans grow up and then grow old with him. He passes Mack’s standard of 5,552 consecutive games managed early in his 35th season – assuming no strikes and a schedule that stays at 162 games, as opposed to Mack’s 154 – breaks the seasonal mark as he closes out his 37th, and bows out gracefully soon after.

If you’re having trouble believing such a scenario, with its series of ifs, could ever come to pass, I offer one suggestion. Imagine that, in a year or two, Mike Trout begins dropping certain hints about his future in baseball. A lot of those early contingencies start falling into place, don’t they? It wouldn’t have to be Trout, but it could well be someone like Trout. And it takes just one to beat Connie Mack.

Most team steals in a season

The record: The “modern” record belongs to the 1911 New York Giants. Manager John McGraw, three years into a turn against the bunt as a primary offensive tool, drove his players to swipe 347 bases that season. Go back into the end of the 19th century, however, and we find the 1899 Baltimore Orioles stole 364 bases. (It did them little good. They finished fourth in the National League and got contracted out of existence.)

Earlier teams had much higher totals, but this is because the definition of the stolen base was different. Advancing an extra station on a base hit, such as first to third on a single, counted as a steal. The modern rule came into being in 1898, meaning those O’s set their mark under modern rules. I’ll have to anger John McGraw and go with the Baltimore club … which had John McGraw as its starting third baseman, who stole 73 bases. Okay, he won’t be so miffed.

Eight of the 1899 Orioles reached double digits in steals, including outfielder Jimmy Sheckard who led the National League with 77. Even the team’s pitchers contributed 11 swipes. The only letdown among starters came from Wilbert Robinson, who had the excuses of being 35 years old and a catcher. He still nabbed five, which today could possibly lead catchers.

How to break it: First, it must be a team effort. Rickey Henderson’s (modern) record of 130 steals in a season gets you a little over a third of the way to the team mark of 364. You need more than that one speed demon, though you probably do need that guy.

Next, you need a relatively young team, because more often than not, youth equals speed. Every starter but Robinson on the 1899 O’s was 30 years or younger. This can definitely be accomplished today, most naturally by a team in the right phase of a rebuilding cycle, when the young, athletic players it has been developing start reaching the majors en masse.

Third, players, coaches, and management need to buy in. For young, hungry, confident players, this should be no problem. Plenty of old-school managers and coaches would embrace extreme base path aggression. Getting the front office, and its analytics department, to endorse it definitely will be trickier. The more you steal, the lower the success rate gets, and you need high success these days to beat the break-even rate.

The number crunchers could find persuasion from a team that made a decent run at the steals record not that long ago: the 1976 Oakland A’s. Or the A’s could just confirm the stat-masters’ convictions.

Those A’s ran up 341 steals, just six shy of the McGraw Giants’ “modern” record, and 23 behind the larcenous Orioles. Billy North accounted for 75 of them, Bert Campaneris, 54 (in his age-34 season), and Don Baylor, piling up starts in four separate positions, added 52. The team’s success rate was a respectable 73.5 percent, which was more productive then than in this higher-scoring era. They didn’t sacrifice competitiveness to accomplish this feat, finishing 2.5 games out of the AL West lead after having lost major starts Reggie Jackson and Catfish Hunter.

The trouble stems from two of their major contributors: Matt Alexander and Larry Lintz. The two combined for 34 plate appearances in 129 games played while swiping 51 bags between them. Herb Washington was gone, but Charlie Finley’s favorite roster tactic, the pinch-runner, lived on. There was room on the A’s roster for multiple pinch-runners because Oakland had just 10 pitchers who appeared in more than two games that entire season. It would difficult to foresee that happening on a current team, to say the least.

So yes, today’s teams can go nuts on the base paths, but they’ll have to chase the record without the benefit of those hyper-specialists from before the age of hyper-specializing. Is there another strategy they can use to pile up the stolen bases without a self-defeating failure rate?

There are probably a few, but I have one I like a lot. Don’t steal them one at a time.

The double steal of second and third is one of the best sneaky percentage plays in baseball. Going by 2017 data, a steal of second base has a break-even rate between 71 and 74 percent, depending on how many outs there are. When stealing second and third with no outs, the break-even is 63 percent. Wait until there’s one out, and it dips to 61 percent. (That’s with the throw going to third. If the play’s at second, the rates are 54 and 59 percent, so the trail runner can afford to be a trifle slower.)

This percentage play can get you two bases at a time closer to the record and please your number crunchers. All you need is runners willing to work together in taking chances. And if you don’t have those, you weren’t going to break the record anyway.

I wish I could recommend the swipe of home as another method, but it isn’t practical, despite tempting numbers. With two outs and a runner on third only, the break-even rate is just 34.6 percent. However, the figures rise markedly with fewer than two gone, to 70 percent for one out and a man on third only. Putting more runners on base also pushes up the break-even, to 50-50 with the bases loaded, two down, and only the runner on third stealing. The frequency of favorable situations, and the number of runners with the skills and guts to keep taking the chance, work against the idea.

There is, though, a promising variant with a long pedigree: the first-and-third steal. Send the runner on first, and when the catcher throws, the runner on third bolts for home. Or have the runner on first deliberately get hung up so the man on third can come home while fielders are distracted by the rundown. This is best done with two outs, giving you a break-even rate of 38.3 percent. This assumes the trailing runner makes second, which he’d better. You want two stolen bases out of this, after all.

Opponents will begin guarding against this play eventually. That’s fine. When the catchers stop throwing to second, or peg it to a cut-off infielder, hold the runner at third and take the one free steal they give you. When they start switching back, switch back yourself. Make game theory your friend.

It’s a long, long way to 364 steals, but a team that could accomplish just one of these double swipes per game would be eight-ninths of the way there. While it probably couldn’t maintain that pace, it could get close enough that standard steals by the team’s top speed merchants could make up the difference. An unreachable mark could be in reach, if the right team chose to go intelligently crazy.

Lowest batting average in a season

The record: Depends greatly on your criteria. Does the batter need to qualify for the batting title, and if not, how many plate appearances is your minimum? Do you count pitchers alongside other players? How about catchers?

For batting title qualifiers, the record is quite recent. Rob Deer set it in 1991, when he batted a sub-Mendoza .179 over 539 plate appearances in Detroit. He was tied in 2013 by Dan Uggla, with a .179 in 537 PA for Atlanta. This was an exact tie, as both had 80 hits in 448 at-bats. Uggla’s record performance is so recent, there is obviously nothing currently unbreakable about it, so we need to look further afield.

A promising subject is Bill Bergen, a Deadball-Era catcher with a batting average of .170 over his 11-year career of 3,229 plate appearances. In 1909, he got 373 PA with Brooklyn and parlayed them into a .139 average. He’d edge that out two years later with a .132 mark, but in just 227 plate appearances. Contemporary managers clearly thought he was a great defensive catcher. Modern statistical analysis indicates he sure wasn’t great enough to justify a .170/.194/.201 slash-line.

With a lower minimum of appearances, the cellar gets deep. At 120 PA, the worst average came from pitcher Wilbur Wood in 1971, hitting a dreadful .052 with the White Sox. For position players, it would be catcher Ben Egan, who managed a .108 average in 1915 for Cleveland. Nudge the limit down to 100 plate appearances, and the position player bottom goes to Ed Connolly, another catcher. He batted .075 for the 1931 Red Sox. Among pitchers, Minnesota’s Dean Chance hits rock bottom, hitting .033 in 1967.

We can, of course, find players who batted .000 for a season if we go low enough. Pitcher Bob Buhl managed the grand goose egg for 85 PA in 1962, split between the Braves and Cubs. For position players, there was Eugenio Vélez, with zero hits in 40 PA for the Dodgers in 2011.

As with Uggla, though, Vélez’s mark was set this decade, which is just too recent to consider unreachable. Our best chance for an unbreakable mark lies not at the extremes, but in the middle. Somewhere between Buhl’s 0-for-85 and Bergen’s .139 in 373 appearances is the record that appears impossible to beat, but really isn’t.

How to break it: Beating the pitchers’ marks would be plausible if pitchers were getting to the plate enough, but they no longer are. Five-man rotations and ever-shortening starts stringently limit how often a pitcher can bat. The top number last season was 77, by Jacob deGrom, and he had a .500 OPS. If a pitcher approached 85 PA without any hits, you’d see him getting pulled earlier in his starts, if not to keep his useless bat from chalking up another out, then to preserve him from the ignominious record. As for 100 PA or more, forget it.

If the unique defensive value of a pitcher is no longer enough to support utter hopelessness as a hitter, then it’s tough to imagine it being the case, even in a lesser degree, for a catcher or shortstop. A batter must produce something, or he’ll sit. How does he produce without batting average?

There are two ways: walks and homers. Deer and Uggla had horrible averages, but they could draw ball four and put baseballs in the bleachers. That could suffice, after a fashion, when hitting .179. Get down to .139 or .132 or .108, though, and the homers just cannot come along often enough. It’s those homers that make pitchers want to work around you, so the walks will diminish as well, and all your hitting value will vanish.

Homers aren’t the answer, even in this launch-happy age. As for walks, who could walk often enough, without any hit production, to keep getting plate appearances?

There was one player who could, though he got only one chance to prove it. His name was Eddie Gaedel.

Bill Veeck’s masterstroke in using a 3-foot-7 player to draw a walk shows us the way. Gaedel got just one time at the plate before AL president Will Harridge voided his contract, but it’s possible he would have seen more action had Harridge not kicked him out of baseball. And he could have provided real value for the 1951 St. Louis Browns, which needed all the value they could get, without making a single hit.

Granted, if Gaedel had stuck around, he wouldn’t have walked every time. He wouldn’t have needed to. If he got struck out looking just as often as he walked, for an OBP of .500, his wRC+ would have been around 120, and his wOBA around .347 (going by the 2017 formula).

Could Gaedel, or someone like him, have a place on the everyday roster of today’s game? With offensive metrics like that, you want to say “yes” immediately, but it’s more complicated. You’ll probably have his services only once a game, and you’ll almost certainly need a pinch-runner for him when he reaches, as Gaedel did. Can you justify gobbling up two bench spots on a modern roster for one coin-flip chance at a walk?

Maybe. If you embrace the current trend of multi-inning outings for frontline relievers, you could get the bullpen down to a manageable six, opening a bench space or two. If your pinch-runner plays the same positions as the regulars you’re likely to be pinch-hitting/pinch-walking for—a quick middle infielder seems just right—that economizes.

If you want to be really cagey, sign Eddie Jr. to an American League team and start him as your DH. He can stay in the lineup until he draws his walk, then his pinch-runner can be your new DH. This may bring him up in situations where a walk isn’t as valuable as you’d like (e.g., second and third with two outs), but you have your backup DH around for those occasions, too.

All this is to demonstrate that a Gaedel-style pinch-walker could be a viable weapon in today’s game, if you could persuade both a team to sign one and the Commissioner not to pull a second Harridge. If he gets just one appearance in three-quarters of his team’s games, that’s 120 PA. (I had a reason for looking at the 120 PA cutoff before, see?) And with his ultimate Two True Outcomes profile, his batting average will be a round .000.

This doesn’t mean he won’t be swinging. Ideally, you’d like someone able to foul away some potential strike threes. If he unintentionally hits one fair, though, I will assume the defense will handle the matter. I would hate to lose the record on an accidental hit.

Get New Eddie his plate appearances, and he should beat even the pitchers’ lowest marks for 100 and 120 PA. Likewise, he should beat out Bob Buhl’s 0-for-85. And, greatest wonder of all, he will do it with his hometown fans glad to see him coming to the plate.

Most runs scored in a season

The record: The all-time record belongs to Sliding Billy Hamilton (the 19th-century version, not the 21st-century one), who piled up a gob-smacking 198 runs in 1894. This shows what can happen when you have an on-base percentage of .521 across 702 plate appearances and steal 100 bases in a league that scores 7.4 runs a game. (His Phillies managed an 8.9-runs-per-game pace. That was third in the league.) The post-1900 record belongs to Babe Ruth, who crossed the plate 177 times in 1921. This shows what can happen when you’re Babe Ruth.

Which should we consider our unbreakable record? Hamilton’s 19th-century record seems the obvious answer, but there’s a reason why we divide baseball history around 1900 that has nothing to do with round numbers. It was in 1901 that foul balls were first counted as strikes, by the National League. (It took until 1903 for the fledgling American League to hop onto this bandwagon.) Hamilton’s record performances had structural advantages that will not be restored. In a sense, he played a different game.

Using Ruth’s 177-run mark feels fairer, but does it pull the record out of the “unbreakable” category? To answer that, let’s see who has gotten remotely close recently. The last player to reach the 150-run plateau in a season was Jeff Bagwell, who scored 152 for the 2000 Astros. The previous instance of a 150-run season? Ted Williams, scoring 150 for the 1949 Red Sox. And before that, it’s another dozen years to Joe DiMaggio, scoring 151 for the 1937 Yankees.

One player since the midpoint of the last century has gotten within 25 runs of Ruth’s figure. Raise the margin to 30 runs, and it’s still just Bagwell since 1950. That looks pretty unbreakable, so we’ll be chasing Babe, not Billy. (Given how fast Hamilton was, this is a sensible choice.)

How to break it: Getting the run environment back as high as it was circa 2000, or in the 1930s, would be a great help. We may be heading in that direction, so let’s consider this partially fulfilled within the next few years.

We also need a great offensive team surrounding the player chasing the record. DiMaggio’s ’37 Yankees and Williams’s ’49 Red Sox were juggernauts in this respect, while Bagwell’s 2000 Astros scored 5.79 runs a game, a super total that was still just fourth in baseball that year. One team ahead of them was the Colorado Rockies, so add to our shopping list an offense-friendly ballpark. (Enron Field was great in this respect, but Coors Field is, ahem, on another level.)

Naturally, the record chaser should be an awesome hitter. On-base percentage is key, but power is vital for driving himself in, or at least perching himself 90 or 180 feet closer for the next guys. Hitters like that historically bat in a very specific part of the order, which is something worth examining.

Bagwell batted third in all but one of his games in 2000, Williams always batted third in 1949, and DiMaggio hit third in 144 out of 151 games in 1937. The previous year, Lou Gehrig scored 167 runs batting cleanup every single game. Ruth, when he set the modern record in 1921, always batted third.

This worked for them and their teams. It also left a few dozen plate appearances on the table they could have had by batting leadoff. It’s not a standard or traditional spot for such hitters, but it would get them more chances to reach base, thus more chances to score. With good power hitters coming up behind them, they could pile up runs.

Let’s conduct a thought experiment. Let’s take a current team with a lot of power hitters, in a good hitter’s park, just the kind of club we want trying to break this record. Then let’s move one of those power hitters, someone also with great on-base numbers, to the leadoff spot. I choose the New York Yankees, and their new leadoff batter is Aaron Judge.

Is Judge really a candidate to chase Ruth’s record for runs scored? Consider this: In 2017, when he had starts ranging from second to eighth in the batting order, including 52 of them coming fifth or later, Judge led the American League in runs with 128.

Could a manager put Judge in the leadoff spot? Aaron Boone was considering it during spring training, then settled for batting him second. In Washington, as I write, Dave Martinez is batting Bryce Harper first. The barriers against such a move are falling. If ever it would happen, it’s now.

There is the scenario. Judge leads off, with his on-base average around .420 and capable of driving himself home 50 times a year. Behind him, not only Giancarlo Stanton with his perhaps even greater power, but Didi Gregorius riding a wave of homers, and Gary Sánchez on a 40+ homer pace through a month and a half despite being a catcher. Would it be enough?

Probably not. Both Judge and his backup band would need to hit every note for six months. Gregorious’ awesome April cooled in May, while Stanton and Sánchez struggled for hits early in the schedule. Pre-season punditry that saw the Yankees smashing team home run records were imagining best-case scenarios for everyone, and that happens awfully seldom.

The scenario remains plausible, but it needs an added element, a margin for error. We would need to set that new Murderer’s Row loose at Coors Field. After all, while Judge led the AL in runs last year, the NL leader, nine runs clear of him, was Charlie Blackmon of the Colorado Rockies. By the way, he bats leadoff.

Could it ever happen? It’s easier to imagine a financial behemoth like the Yankees pulling together all the mashers. Then again, of the four Bronx Bombers I named, two were home-grown, and a third arrived via trade as a defense-first shortstop. If the Rockies can develop the right players at the right time,and put them in the lineup the right way, they could pull off something not seen since the Bambino trod the earth.

Luckily for me, I live a few miles from the Rockies’ Low-A affiliates, the Asheville Tourists. If I see something huge coming through the Sally League, I’ll let you know.

References and Resources

A writer for The Hardball Times, Shane has been writing about baseball and science fiction since 1997. His stories have been translated into French, Russian and Japanese, and he was nominated for the 2002 Hugo Award.
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Fun piece! What Betts has been doing out of the leadoff spot in a friendly offensive environment with the bonus of elite base running has been something else too this year. We could be seeing another run at 150+


Came to say this. Using current rate of runs scored per PA, using ZIPs projected ROS PA of 497, Mookie would score 125 runs the rest of the way and has already scored 49, for a total of 174. Of course, regression and reality have to go fly a kite for that to happen. 150 seems plausible.

Dennis Bedard
Dennis Bedard

“the larcenous Orioles.” Great writing!

Da Bear
Da Bear

Now that MLB has the 0-pitch intentional walk rule, what would it take to bring out this scenario? It’s a late-season game, and a big 7th inning outburst has turned it into a 12-2 laugher. Obviously the rest of the game is apt to become garbage time, and with expanded September rosters, there’s no shortage of guys on the bench, so both teams decide to pull all their regulars out of the game and let the kids play it out. This includes someone who finally gets to make his major league debut, and when his turn at bat arrives in… Read more »

Barney Coolio
Barney Coolio

Mind boggling! But I think that the “pitcher” in this case would be a position player who takes the mound. No actual pitcher would want to take the hit to his official ERA.


There would be some very happy and some very outraged fantasy players: of this there would be no doubt!


Very funny, but I don’t think it’s possible to intentionally walk people en masse like that. You’d probably have to do it with each individual batter as they continually walk up to the plate, and even if you didn’t have to do that, I’m almost certain that it would be required for the players to continually advance around the bases in order for those intentional walks to officially count, which of course is completely infeasible. It was still a great laugh, though. It reminds me of the story of a millionaire who offered to send a check for enough money… Read more »


I’m glad you mentioned the different structural changes in the game that invalidate many of the offensive records from the 19th Century, but the 1899 Orioles (as well as the 1911 Giants) still had one structural advantage for racking up those steal totals: there was no such thing as an uncontested stolen base exemption until 1920. How many of those stolen bases occurred simply because the catcher didn’t bother to try and throw out a runner who moved up in the 9th inning while not representing the tying or go-ahead run? By the way, I still consider one of MLB’s… Read more »