Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The baseball record that will never be broken

The card I'm going to show you today came into my possession only recently although I've "owned" it for quite some time.  I'll let you ponder on that one for a bit.

This is a 2013 Topps Nolan Ryan Record Holder manu-ring a ling.  The front is interesting.

The back is eye-opening. You can probably read the write-up on the back, but I'll type it up for you anyway.  

"Ryan's record of 5,714 strikeouts demands perspective - perhaps by recognizing that a pitcher would require nearly 29 seasons with 200 to break it.  Not only  has no one ever played that long, the non-Nolan mark for 200-plus is 13 by Randy Johnson."

Did you get that?  A pitcher would need to average 200 strikeouts a year for 29 years to break Nolan's record.  Hell, a pitcher would need to average 300 strikeouts a year for 19 years to fall 14 short of the record.  

The current active leader for strikeouts is CC Sabathia and I'm not sure you could call him active.  CC has 2,437 strikeouts and won't ever hit 3000.  There are three intriguing active pitchers.  

Felix Hernandez is number 9 on the active list and number 90 on the all-time list with 1900 strikeouts.  Felix will post his 6th consecutive 200+ strikeout season in 2014.  If he ended 2014 with 2000 Ks, he'd have to average 200 Ks/year for the next 19 years to catch Nolan.  Ain't happenin'.  

Justin Verlander is number 12 on the active list and number 102 on the all-time list with 1789 strikeouts. Justin has 5 200K seasons so far.  I don't think Verlander will hit the 3000 mark, much lest make a run at Nolan.

Now for the most interesting of them all.  

Clayton Kershaw is number 26 on the active list and number  239 on the all-time list with 1380 strikeouts. He should easily get his 5th straight 200 strikeout season this year.  He'll also finish this season with about 1500 career Ks if he keeps on his current pace.  That would mean he'd need to average 200 Ks for the next 21 years to catch Nolan.  I like Kershaw.  He's a local boy and by all accounts a very good guy.  He still isn't going to break Nolan's record.  

What say you dear reader?  Do you ever see Nolan Ryan's career strikeout mark being broken?  


  1. I picture a dystopia in 2059 where a new undetectable molecular gas allows a pitcher to make a pitched ball to become briefly invisible when thrown. Strikeout numbers skyrocket. A heated debate ensues on whether this should be banned or not. And depending on how quickly the Galactic Baseball Union acts, Nolan's record might have a chance at being broken.

  2. It is hard to see a scenario in which that record is broken. Maybe doctors figure out a way to prevent pitchers from breaking down. This causes pitch counts go up and working deeper into games thus more strikeouts. Baseball would need a radical change in how the game is played. Everything is so specialized with left handed bullpen guys, double switches etc.

  3. Unless the rules change -- moving the mound in, raising it, giving batters a broom handle -- and pitchers go back to pitching more frequently than, essentially, once a week and, further, they go back to completing games, I highly doubt anyone gets closer than Randy Johnson did.