It is widely believed that hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do in popular sports.
One can argue that Baseball with its combination of skills learned and perfected through constant repetition
and unique athletic requirements, is the hardest game to play at the highest level.
Since 1900, Baseball has seen many great athletes from Babe Ruth to Alex Rodriguez, but only a handful had the skills to achieve the following single season milestones. A club that future greats will find hard to join.
150 Runs Batted In – 43 times
Less than 50 players have reached that plateau. One hundred RBI’s in a single season is a goal of all sluggers. Hack Wilson batted in 190 runs in 1930, a record that may never be broken.
50 plus home runs – 40 times
Baseball has seen many eras, where the ball was thought to be juiced, livelier than previous years. In the later part of the 20th century, players took matters in their own hands and juiced themselves. Balls were flying out of the ball park faster than any other baseball era, but still hitting 50 plus home runs has been done only 40 times. The Babe did it 40 times. Sammy Sosa hit 60 or more three times. As of the 2010 season only 25 players have hit 50 home runs in a single season. The biggest question remains, how did Brady Anderson do it, while Hank Aaron never slugged more than 47 in a season
Pitching Triple Crown – 30 times
A pitching feat that shows total superiority over all other pitchers and batters is when a hurler leads the league in wins, strikeouts and earned run average, something that’s been accomplished 30 time. Sandy Koufax and Walter Johnson did it three times each, which means less than 25 pitchers have mastered the mound over the course of a full season.
300 plus strike outs – 29 times
How must it feel to know that you can throw your fast ball passed any and every player? They come to the plate hoping not to get a hit, but to somehow make contact. Nolan Ryan, the strike out king did it six times, while Sandy Koufax did it 3 times.
30 game winners – 23
The last player to accomplish that feat spent several years in jail and is no longer with us. Denny McClain had a magical season in 1967, when he won 31 games and lost only 6. The last person to flirt with 30 wins was Bob Welch, no, not the ex Fleetwood Mac lead singer, but the ex-Dodger and A’s who won a career total of 211 games.
Hitting Triple Crown – 16
The more popular form of the Triple Crown is when a hitter leads the league in home runs, RBI’s and batting average. 1967 was the last year a player dominated pitching opposition when Carl Yaztremski took the honor. Ted Wiiliams and Rogers Hornsby did it twice respectively. Of the 16 times that it was done, only Mickey Mantle managed to go beyond the 50 home run plateau. The Mic blasted 52 in 1956.
240 plus hits – 14 times
It’s as automatic as one can be in the game of baseball. Hitting safely 240 times or more is close to getting a hit every other plate appearance. Ichiro Suzuki has done it on two separate occasions. He also holds the single season record (262) in 2004, when he broke George Sisler’s 76-year-old record of 257.
.400 batting average – 13
Baseball experts agree that Ted Williams will remain the last player to hit .400 for at least another 70 years. I don’t agree. I believe that it will be done soon. The trick is not total hits but instead lowering the number of at bats. George Brett batted .390 with just 175 hits and only 449 plate appearances.
While Rod Carew batted .388 with 64 more hits, but close to 200 more at bats.
Batting .400 remains the 2nd toughest thing to do in baseball. Less than ten players have accomplished that feat.
50 home runs 50 doubles – 1
Three Dog Night says that two is the loneliest number since number 1 – well, Mr. Albert Belle is extremely lonely at the top. In the history of baseball, not Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds, live ball era, steroids era, smaller ball parks, or any condition you can think of, Only one man has hit 50 home runs and 50 doubles in one season. He happens to be the most hated baseball player of the last 50 years, and on my top five list of favorite players of all time. Congratulations Albert, you will not make it to the hall of fame, but you did something no one else has and probably will never do.
Keep an eye on the yearly statistics and see if the above exclusive feats grow. Chances are they will remain very tough clubs to enter.