On the record

August 12, 2007|By DAN CONNOLLY

Now that baseball's career home run record has fallen after a 33-year reign by Hall of Famer Hank Aaron, the question is what's next?

Which career record will be eclipsed and who will do it?

One guess is runs scored, with the San Francisco Giants' Barry Bonds, the new home run king, closing in on speedster Rickey Henderson.

Here's a look at some career records and whether we can expect an eventual changing of the guard.

Home runs

Record holder -- Bonds, 758 and counting

Threats -- The common belief is that Bonds, 43, is just keeping the throne warm for New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, 32, who last week became the youngest player to reach 500. Ten more years at an average of 40 homers, and Rodriguez will obliterate whatever number Bonds reaches.

Chance it's broken -- 80 percent. Rodriguez will have to remain consistent as he ages, but if he can't do it, someone else will. Steroids or no steroids, hitters are lasting in the game longer than they ever have.

RBIs

Record holder -- Aaron, 2,297

Threats -- Bonds likely will pass 2,000 before the end of the season. Still, he'd need three more solid seasons to touch Aaron. A more realistic possibility is the Boston Red Sox's Manny Ramirez, who is almost at 1,600 and is only 35. He just has to stay in the game long enough.

Chance it's broken -- 70 percent. It'd be higher if Manny weren't Manny.

Hits

Record holder -- Pete Rose, 4,256

Threats -- The only active player besides Rodriguez with an outside shot is Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, 33. He had 2,303 hits entering yesterday, and would have to average 200 for the next decade to eclipse Rose. It's not likely, but not impossible. The Seattle Mariners' Ichiro Suzuki, 33, passed 1,500 hits in just his seventh year in the big leagues, but spending nine seasons in Japan has put Rose's record out of reach for him.

Chance it's broken -- 25 percent. But not soon.

Runs scored

Record holder -- Rickey Henderson, 2,295

Threats -- Bonds again. This is one he most likely will own. He's about 80 away, so if he plays a full season next year, he'll probably need to touch home plate only 60 times in 2008. And that's realistic, even if he doesn't play every day.

Chance it's broken -- 95 percent

Steals

Record holder -- Henderson, 1,406

Threats -- None. Henderson obliterated Lou Brock's mark of 938 by almost 500. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays' Carl Crawford, 26, needs about 1,150 for Henderson to slide aside. In other words, Crawford will have to average 50 bases for the next 23 seasons to challenge Henderson.

Chance it's broken -- 2 percent. The game has slowed down since Henderson owned the base paths.

Consecutive games

Record holder -- Cal Ripken Jr., 2,632

Threats -- None. With injuries to Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada and Atlanta Braves first baseman Mark Teixeira this season, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Juan Pierre is left as the active "Iron Man." He's closing in on 400 consecutive games. Fourteen more seasons and this could get interesting for Pierre, who will be 30 this week.

Chance it's broken -- 1 percent. OK, it's probably more like one-half of 1 percent.

Wins

Record holder -- Cy Young, 511.

Threats -- Absolutely none. Never. Ever. With all due respect to Ripken, this is the most unbreakable record in baseball - that and Young's mind-boggling 749 complete games. Baseball has changed dramatically since old Denton True "Cy" Young pitched from 1890-1911. Only one other pitcher, Walter Johnson (417), has more than 375 wins. And, thanks to five-man rotations and specialists, we might never see a pitcher get to 300 again.

Chance it's broken -- Zero.

ERA

holder -- Ed Walsh, 1.82

Threats -- None. Walsh, a Hall of Famer, threw nearly 3,000 innings in 14 seasons from 1904-1917 and only once, in his final season, did he post an ERA higher than 2.82. The active qualifying leader is the New York Mets' Pedro Martinez, whose career ERA is 2.81.

Chance it's broken -- 5 percent. Maybe Sidd Finch will one day get to the big leagues.

Games pitched

Record holder -- Jesse Orosco, 1,252

Threats -- This is the category of the left-handed specialist. Orosco, a former Oriole, retired in 2003 at age 46. He'll probably keep it a couple more years, though the Cincinnati Reds' Mike Stanton, 40, another good-guy left-hander, is fewer than 100 away. And don't forget former Oriole Steve Kline, who is closing in on 800 games and hasn't yet turned 35, though his body is about 55.

Chance it's broken -- 98 percent, and when it is, here's betting the record breaker is a 40-something left-hander.

Strikeouts

Record holder -- Nolan Ryan, 5,714

Threats -- Roger Clemens is the active leader and No. 2 overall, and he trails Ryan by more than 1,000. It's hard to imagine anyone will combine the longevity and strikeout potential that Ryan possessed for 27 seasons.

Chance it's broken -- 10 percent. Probably not by anyone we have heard of yet.

Saves

Record holder -- Trevor Hoffman, 511 and counting

Threats -- Hoffman isn't yet 40 and he is still tremendously effective, so who knows what the record will be when he retires? He has several contemporaries behind him, such as the Yankees' Mariano Rivera and the Mets' Billy Wagner. But because closers are being groomed for the position in college and in the minors, logic dictates someone will catch the San Diego Padres' Hoffman several years after he retires.

Chance it's broken -- 75 percent. Might be lower if Hoffman pitches well into his 40s.

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