Major League Baseball now has the world of sports to itself for at least the next 6 weeks. There are few things that baseball definitively does better than any other big sport. But one thing that they have evolved with the times on is the All-Star Game and Home Run Derby. Despite the sport’s shrinking market share in certain parts of the country its All-Star break is by far and away better than anything else any other sport does. The Pro Bowl is horrendous, The NBA All-Star game is 46 minutes of pick up ball and the NHL All-Star game exists.
So now what? Every Summer MLB has these six weeks and every summer they fail to capitalize. The sport is a marathon and not a sprint, but big summer story lines just never seem to materialize. It’s been 24 years since the McGwire -Sosa Home Run chase and 15 seasons since Barry Bonds eclipsed Hank Aaron’s career long tally with #756 amongst anger and boos with the ominous clouds of PEDs constantly in the atmosphere.
As we hit the Dog Days of Summer, we have put together our list on how Major League Baseball can Build Back Better. But much like our nation’s crumbling infrastructure baseball’s rebuild will be slow and methodical. In today’s quick fix world this won’t be. It’s going to take some time. Think more of the Big Dig in Boston as opposed to the Hoover Damn in Utah.
Here are things that MLB needs to happen over the next decade as the sport prepares to rise like a Phoenix once again.
5. Justin Verlander Gets his 300th win. (Summer 2025)
Currently at the age of 39 Verlander, with a 20-win season this year (currently on pace for 21) would sit at 246 careers wins. If he is able to stay healthy and keep his current pace he would have shot to the 300 win total in August of 2025. Now the quest for 300 wins isn’t going to be a must tune in night in, night out grind and quest like some of the others on this list. It won’t be like McGwire and Sosa chasing down 61 or Pete Rose tracking down Ty Cobb. Even I can’t remember buzz and excitement when Randy Johnson got to 300 wins 13 years ago. But with the window closing on potential 300 game winners Verlander’s quest maybe baseball’s last.
4. Mike Trout Hits his 757-career home run. (Summer 2033)
I never said this list wasn’t going to be easy or a quick fix! At the age of 30 and 11 MLB seasons under his belt Mike Trout has hit 333 home runs and will be halfway to 700 by seasons end. Bonds was 40 when he hit is 700th and Hank Aaron was 39th. Trout will need to average 39 home runs a season to hit his 700th at the age of 40. He is currently one pace for 49 home runs this season. Health will be a huge part of this for Trout like any record really is for any player. At the age of 42, with 683 home runs, Albert Pujols has run out of time. Without breaking his thumb Bryce Harper couldn’t hit his 300th career HR by his 30th birthday. But Harper just can’t stay healthy. Just two months ago Juan Soto hit his 100th career home run at the age of 23. He may get there but we are looking at the 2040’s at the earliest! Trout has a legitimate shot at it.
3. Jose Altuve picks up his 4,257th career hit. (Summer 2034)
At the age of 32 early during the 2023 season, Jose Altuve will likely cross the 2000 career hit mark. He currently is parked at 1838. His small size and the fact that he plays second base should help him to stay relatively health. From 2014 to 2017 he averaged 210 hits per season, something he needs to get back to. This season he is on pace for 175 base knocks. If he can stay healthy, he should be passing the 3000 hit mark at the age of 38. The question then will be how long you want to do this. To give you a reference Jeter was 37 when he got to 3000. So was Pete Rose. So, if Altuve can get to the 3000 mark at the age of 37 then he has a shot if he plays long enough. This record is not for the young of heart. Even if one averaged 200 hits a season for 20 years you would be a year and half away from Rose’s mark. It’s a singles hitter’s journey and Altuve is baseball’s best chance.
2. Unnamed player hits .400 (Season Unknown)
28 years ago Tony Gwynn was hitting .394 with six weeks to go in the MLB season. Baseball would then go on strike and the sport may have lost their last real shot at someone trying to accomplish something that hadn’t been done since Ted Williams did it five decades earlier. In 1980 George Brett finished a full season hitting .390. In the last 20 seasons no one has really come close. In 2009 Joe Mauer his .365 and in 2004 Ichiro hit .372.
With specialization now in full effect hitting .400 may be harder than ever. But relief his on the way. The Universal DH is here, the shift is set to go away and the implementation of Pitching clocks gaining in popularity more base hits will be out there for the taking. A player hit .400 would come into focus, in September, during the opening month of football season. Not the ideal time to grab America’s attention but the quest for .400 would be a daily and nightly trek that would capture the hearts of all sports fans. It’s going to have to be a singles hitter with some speed. Will the next Rod Carew please stand up?
1. Unnamed player 57 game hitting streak. (Season Unknown)
The impossible mark. The unbreakable record. This one will require some luck. It’s been 35 years since Paul Molitor legitimately made a run at Joe DiMaggio’s 56 game mark and 44 years since Pete Rose got withing two weeks of Joltin’ Joe’s unreachable number. This mark is not only baseball’s Holy Grail it is the Holy Grail of All Sports. The other numbers and records on this list are nice and amazing. But this mark could happen by a variety of players at any time. The other marks would all occur at the end of careers. Look at home many of baseball records are set with other franchises with players in their 40s.
Imagine someone tracking down DiMaggio’s record in the summer with a day-by-day tracker and live look ins every night. The Dog Days of Summer would become the Dynamic Dog Days with Major League Baseball being “THE” story in sports. When said player got to the mid 40s mark for hits in consecutive games it would a become a nightly OJ chase (but in a good way).
Will it ever happen? Not likely but imagine the summer months of June, July and August with someone not only tracking down baseball’s holy grail but withstanding the grind and gauntlet in doing so.