Major League Baseball 2001: a milestone recap

Mitty

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OK, so let's see here:
- Barry Bonds breaks the single season HR record, finishing with 73 and the single season walk record, finishing with 177.
- Cal Ripken & Tony Gwynn retire, likely ending an era of marquis players who play a whole career in one city (I can't think of another player who fits that description).
- Rickey Henderson breaks the all time records for walks, and runs scored. Then, in the last at bat of his season (and likely his career), he gets his 3000th hit.
- The Seattle Mariners break the AL record (and tie the MLB record) for most wins in a season, finishing with 116.
- Roger Clemens moves into 3rd place among the all time strikeout leaders, behind only Nolan Ryan and Steve Carlton, leapfrogging over 5 players over the course of the season.
- Not a milestone, but Randy Johnson came only 11 K's away from tying Nolan Ryan's single season strikeout record of 383. If the D-Backs weren't going to the post season, he'd have likely had another start and a good shot at it.
All this and the post season hasn't started yet. There's an excellent chance a city will win (or play in) its first world series, given that the teams with the three best records in baseball (Seattle, Houston, Arizona) have never won. Having lived in Toronto in '92, some of you guys living in those cities are in for something really special.
What a year. Did I miss anything?
 

MikeM

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What a year. Did I miss anything?
Well, I'd also have to mention that this is the year of the Wild Card.
Being from Oakland, I'd have to point out what a bizarre season the Oakland A's have had. They were dead in the water in the first half, and bounced back to hold the best record in baseball in the second half. (As you mentioned, with Seattle setting the all time AL Record for wins, it's pretty impressive that the A's beat them out for second half wins.)
Lastly, the Wild Card literally saved the franchise in Oakland. If there were no Wild Card, the A's would have never been able to catch Seattle for the AL West, they wouldn't have signed Dye, and would have probably dumped Giambi to the Yankees. The attendance in the second half would have dropped sharply, and with the team being up for sale, they probably would not have found a local buyer due to this being a "rebuilding year" with poor attendance and little support from the city.
So instead, the A's attendance was way up from last year, they still have Giambi (for now), and they have a nice chance to win it all.
Like I said, this is the year of the Wild Card.

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Anthony Hom

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The A's are an incredible team this year. Unfortunately, the management of the team's method of operation would see great players like Giambi and Dye not staying on the team in the next 2 years. Also potential players like Tejada, and Long when they become great players will also be gone when their contracts expire. The salary budget for Oakland is one of the lowest, so great players that start new contracts ultimately leave, or get traded at critical points in time. Too bad, Oakland has a great history of choosing great rookies, much like the Dodgers.
 

Brian Lawrence

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Also the ATLANTA BRAVES became the first team to win a division with a losing record at home. Thankfully They start the post season on the road.
Oh yeah and 10 straight division titles!
America's Team
 

Yoshi Sugawara

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Speaking of milestones, a shameless plug for Ichiro Suzuki:
- set major league rookie record for hits (242)
- set AL record for singles (192)
- hit safely in 135 games, tying the major league record
- AL Batting Title (.350 avg)
- AL Stolen Base Title (56 stolen bases)
- Most hits in the major league in 2000-2001 season
On another note, I'm really surprised at the A's, who have the second-best record in the major leagues. I hope the Mariners beat the Indians, and the A's beat the Yankees so I can have a chance to see a good league championship series here in Oakland.
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MikeM

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Well, I may as well add another pseudo milestone:
This will be the second year in a row that the AL Rookie Of The Year is a Marriner who is not really a rookie.

I really like Ichiro, but baseball needs to change the rules on who is considered a Rookie. A 7-time All-Star professional baseball player who won 6 league batting titles, 7 Gold Gloves, is a rookie??

..ok, sorry, I'm off my soapbox now.
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AdrianJ

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quote: - Rickey Henderson breaks the all time records for walks, and runs scored. Then, in the last at bat of his season (and likely his career), he gets his 3000th hit.
I don't think Henderson's career is over. He's still fairly productive and might induce someone to give him a contract as a lead off man.
quote: - Not a milestone, but Randy Johnson came only 11 K's away from tying Nolan Ryan's single season strikeout record of 383. If the D-Backs weren't going to the post season, he'd have likely had another start and a good shot at it.
I'd like to point out that because of the Sept. 11th tragedy and the postponement of many games, Johnson actually got an extra start when baseball resumed. So, all in all, Johnson got the exact same number of starts he would have if the Diamondbacks weren't headed toward the playoffs.
- Cal Ripken & Tony Gwynn retire, likely ending an era of marquis players who play a whole career in one city (I can't think of another player who fits that description).
I think Ivan Rodriguez of the Rangers still qualifies here, even though after 11 years with the Rangers, it is anyone's guess whether he will be back next year.
You also forgot the amazing run that the Mets put together to go from 13 games under .500 to actually contending for the East. Up until last weekends disaster in Atlanta, the Mets could have won the East.
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Adrian Jones
[Edited last by AdrianJ on October 08, 2001 at 02:04 PM]
 

Rob Willey

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the teams with the three best records in baseball (Seattle, Houston, Arizona)
I think you'll find the second best record in baseball belongs to Oakland.
Amazing that the two best records (and the only two teams to win 100 games) are in the same division.
Rob
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John Thomas

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Being from Oakland, I'd have to point out what a bizarre season the Oakland A's have had. They were dead in the water in the first half, and bounced back to hold the best record in baseball in the second half.
You'll of course notice that this mirrors the NL Wildcard, the St. Louis Cardinals as they too were dead in the water at the All Star Break, trading away hitting for possible pitching prospects. This included Woody Williams, who has been a great addition. Also, the NL Central is a mirror of the AL West in the fact that the two best records in the league are in the same division.
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The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. -Franklin D. Roosevelt.
My Top 10 of 2000 My Top 10 of 2001
 

Mitty

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I'd like to point out that because of the Sept. 11th tragedy and the postponement of many games, Johnson actually got an extra start when baseball resumed. So, all in all, Johnson got the exact same number of starts he would have if the Diamondbacks weren't headed toward the playoffs.
Alright, point conceded. It is worth noting that Johnson accomplished this in 5 fewer starts than Nolan Ryan had in 1973 (39 starts). Johnson's K/9 is 13.41, which is unbelievable, far better than Ryan's during his '73 season. Essentially, half of his recorded outs are by strikeout.
One other milestone is Sosa's third 60 HR season, the only guy to ever do that.
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AdrianJ

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Alright, point conceded. It is worth noting that Johnson accomplished this in 5 fewer starts than Nolan Ryan had in 1973 (39 starts). Johnson's K/9 is 13.41, which is unbelievable, far better than Ryan's during his '73 season. Essentially, half of his recorded outs are by strikeout.
I figured as much was true without ever looking. They didn't use nearly the same number of people in a rotation in 1973 as they do now. I think you will find out that the reason Johnson's K/9 is so high is because Nolan Ryan pitched so many complete games in 1973. Ryan pitched 26 complete games out of 39 starts! That is a truly amazing thing for me to see. Ryan averaged almost 8 innings per game (and that includes 2 relief appearances) while Johnson averaged closer to 7. You have to figure that if Ryan hadn't pitched so many complete games, his K/9 would be higher.
Interesting to note in both seasons, each pitcher had a relief appearance. Johnson appeared 35 games but only 34 started. Ryan had 42 appearances and only 39 games started. He actually recorded a save in 1973!!
Johnson might eventually break Ryan's record for strikeouts in a season, but I don't think he can challenge his career mark. He still has 2302 left to go and is 38.
Not that this discussion is about Nolan Ryan, but I've always wondered how many games Ryan could have won if he had played for some good teams. He finished is career with 324, but only averaged 12 wins a season and won 20 games only twice.
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Adrian Jones
 

Mitty

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I've always wondered how many games Ryan could have won if he had played for some good teams. He finished is career with 324, but only averaged 12 wins a season and won 20 games only twice.
No kidding. I remember him going something like 8-15 one year with the Astros, despite having the best ERA in the National League. He couldn't buy a win. Despite dominating hitters for almost 3 decades, he only had a career winning percentage just over .500. He lost nearly 300 games. Contrast that with someone like Clemens whose numbers are otherwise similar, but who's won almost twice as many games as he's lost.
 

AdrianJ

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I might get blasted for blasphemy here, but I always thought if Ryan had played on a playoff team for most of his career, he could have come close to Cy Young's 511.
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Adrian Jones
 

Greg_Y

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Just as Clemens leapfrogged over many fine pitchers on the all-time strikeout leader list, Bonds vaulted over a number of sluggers on the all-time home run leader list. If the flux capicator is firing correctly today, my calculations say that he went from 17th to 7th. McGwire went from 7th to 5th with his 29 dingers.
Another milestone statistic: I watched zero complete baseball games this year for the first time in a long time. Didn't attend any, and barely watched innings any on TV. I've lost the fever for it.
 

Mitty

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I can't imagine he would have challenged 511, but he may have won 400 or even have eclipsed Walter Johnson's 417 and settled in at # 2 on the all time list.
He would have had to average ~ 20 wins per season, even over his long, long career to get to 500. They say records are meant to be broken, but Cy Young's record really will NEVER be broken.
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Greg_Y

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I might get blasted for blasphemy here, but I always thought if Ryan had played on a playoff team for most of his career, he could have come close to Cy Young's 511.
I disagree. Ryan had about 200 less decisions (games where he was the winner or loser) than Young. That's an awful lot of wins among those decisions to get close to Cy Young.
It was just a different ball game back then. People talk about Cy Young's 511 wins being an unbreakable record. I agree IF A.) the game stays the same as it is now and doesn't evolve (which won't happen) B.) people don't start living much longer (which also won't happen.) Realistically, I think Young's record will fall someday. I also think his complete game record is more impressive than his wins record, although that's also a product of the times, as that's how pitchers pitched back then. The concept of relief was foreign.
 

Scott_J

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This was a great season. I watched very little baseball, if any, last season and didn't pay much attention to it. This year, however, especially in the 2nd half of the season, was the exact opposite. With all of the records/milestones being chased, Ripken and Gwynn retiring, etc, it was such an exciting season. Since last Tuesday, I watched at least 1 complete baseball game everyday. I've never done anything like that before. For me, it was even better because I'm an Astro fan, and the excitement lasted right up to the last day of the season for me. The Astros-Cards game Saturday was terrific! Only one thing could make this season better for me - the Astros making their first ever World Series. Let's hope.
BTW, my non-interest in baseball last season had nothing to do with the Astros 90 loss season. I didn't pay attention to baseball at all, even from the beginning of the season.
 

Brian Perry

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It's interesting to talk about Cy Young and records that are considered unbreakable. The "hard" records are the ones where it would take 20+ years of great performance, such as 20 years of 25 wins (Cy Young), 20 years of 210 hits (Pete Rose), etc. A "soft" record is one in which it would take only 8-10 years of peak performance, such as when Rickey Henderson was chasing Brock for the stolen base record (although now Rickey has made it more of a hard record).
The funny thing is that now Aaron's home run record could be considered soft (or softer than it was). When I was a kid, I used to marvel at the thought of 35 homers a year for 21 years and thought the record was untouchable. But now, the record would fall with 13-14 seasons of "good" (55+) homer production.
The Nolan Ryan strikeout record should be safe from Johnson, even though Randy seems to be gaining momentum. I think his age will catch up to him very quickly. But who knows?
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[Edited last by Brian Perry on October 08, 2001 at 08:53 PM]
 

Ashley Seymour

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Cy Young, 512 victories may last for ever, but it is not impossible to break. This is clearly a record that is significant to his era. Baseballs were not yet juiced and as a result didn't go far. A pitcher didn't wear his arm out throwing 95 MPH fastballs. Plus the ball was scuffed, torn, covered with tobacco, slipery elm, etc. Barry and Mac would probably have only hit about 25 homers in 1910. That year the Philadelphia A's won the World Series and used only two pitchers, Combes and Chief Bender to defeat the Cubs in five games. As late as 1918 the Red Sox used only four pitchers. When the "lively ball" came into play around 1920 the impact on pitching was pronounced. By 1924 The Senators used eight pitchers and the Giants nine.
Nolan Ryan was a good pitcher, but I don't think his w/l record was so poor because of his teams. He was basically a Don Drysdale type pitcher. Drysdale was on a lot of great Dodger teams, but his season always looked like 18-16 and 13-16. A .550 pitcher, but with a lot of innings and a couple of 20 win seasons.
If Warren Spahn had Ryan's stuff he could have won over 500. He won 363 games and because of the war didn't get his career started until he was 25. Dwight Gooden had 100 major league victories when he was 24. I used to think he would have had a chance at 400-500. But? Who would have thunk?
 

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