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08/30/2004 Archived Entry: "MLB news: Bonds rewriting record book – again"

Several single-season records within reach
By Michael Toeset

With about 30 games left for most teams, it seems an appropriate time to revisit the topic of single-season records. Outside of Barry Bonds – who’s having arguably the greatest season in the history of the game – there’s only four or five players who have a shot at breaking a single-season mark. If your team is floundering in the basement of their division and you’re starting to lose interest in the season, there’s no reason to despair; you can still get some joy out of rooting for (or against, as the case may be) these record-aspiring players.

For starters, we have ICHIRO SUZUKI, whose record hunt was discussed in an article on this site a few days ago. Ichiro is tantalizingly close to breaking George Sisler’s hits mark of 257. With 32 games left, Ichiro needs only 49 hits to break Sisler’s mark. If Ichiro plays in all the Mariners’ remaining games and gets 4.5 at-bats a game, he only needs to hit .340 to break Sisler’s hallowed mark. And that is definitely not out of the question – through Sunday, Ichiro was sporting a .369 average.

CARLOS BELTRAN, whose record chase may have been derailed by a Cubs’ beaning on Sunday, is close to becoming only the fourth player ever to record a 40-homer, 40-steal season, and (if he’s not out too long), he likely will raise the bar for power-speed excellence. Through Sunday, Beltran had 35 home runs and 35 stolen bases. Five homers and five steals in 32 games is nearly a given for Beltran, so it’s possible he’ll top the previous 40-40 seasons – Jose Canseco 42-40, Bonds 42-40 and Alex Rodriguez 41-46. Beltran may well be able to become the first-ever 45-45 member, and while 50-50 is a stretch, it’s not impossible if Beltran stays hot. (Recall also that was the first to predict Beltran could establish the 50-50 club.)

In the “I don’t really want that record” category, we have ADAM DUNN, who is swinging for Bobby Bonds’ strikeout record. The senior Bonds set the mark in 1970 with 189 K’s, and as of Sunday, Dunn has 151 strikeouts. He needs only 39 whiffs in 33 games to set the new mark, and as he’s struck out those 151 times in 128 games, that’s a distinct possibility. Hey, Reds fans have got to have something to root for, even if it is a notorious record.

MARIANO RIVERA and FRANCISCO CORDERO have a good chance to break Bobby Thigpen’s saves record of 57. This stat relies more heavily than any other on the team’s performance, so Rivera and Cordero may not even get enough save opportunities to break the record. If the remainder of the season plays out for the Yankees and Rangers as it has so far, however, these closers could finally break Thigpen’s baffling record (he never even came close to duplicating his 1990 season). Rivera has the best chance, with 45 saves and 32 games remaining. Cordero has 41 saves with 33 games left.

Now, on to BARRY BONDS. The best player you’ll ever see in your lifetime is gunning for three records – and the fun part is, he holds the previous records! This one-man wrecking crew has 30 games remaining and likely will break his own marks in walks, on-base percentage and on-base-plus-slugging percentage. Bonds currently has 183 walks, meaning he only needs 16 to break his mark of 198 (I swear one time I saw Bonds walk 10 times in a game, so this record should be a cake walk). And if Bonds continues at his current pace of .607 OBP and 1.430 OPS, he’ll shatter his already unfathomable marks of .582 OBP and 1.381 OPS. If you’re not a stat-head and these numbers mean little to you, let me put it this way: In the history of baseball, only two players have put up numbers these gaudy, and they went by the names of Babe Ruth and Ted Williams.

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