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5/20/2008 02:30:00 PM
Toughest Individual Achievements in Baseball
Randy Johnson's threw baseball's last perfect game on May 18, 2004 against the Braves.
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
By Lang Whitaker, SI.com
I'm not a member of Red Sox Nation, but I felt a certain tinge of pride Monday night as Jon Lester completed his no-hitter. I've spent copious amounts of time over the last month attempting to spin my own no-no in MLB The Show 08, to no avail. It's tough enough in the virtual realm, but nearly impossible on an actual baseball diamond. Here's my top five list of the toughest individual achievements in baseball...
1. Perfect Game: Tossing a no-hitter is improbable enough, but not even allowing one man to reach first seems not only improbable, but downright impossible. You have to avoid throwing down the middle but also avoid walking anyone.
2. Hitting For The Cycle: Duh. One or two hits could be luck, but busting four hits in one game for a single, double, triple and homer takes ultimate skill...and a little bit of luck.
3. Unassisted Triple Play: To me, this seems like it would require equal parts skill and luck, being a defensive player in the right place at the right time.
4. Hitting a Home Run: I don't mean just getting bat on ball and maybe getting on base if the ball lands in the right place, but making solid contact and driving the ball roughly 375 feet and over a ten-foot-high wall. I think I hit one actual home run in my life. And that was in softball.
5. Stealing A Base: Not only do you need speed and quickness, but you have to be able to read a pitcher and avoid a tag. Check out A.J. Pierzynski showing White Sox beat writer Richard Crowleyjust how tough this is.
What is the hardest individual accomplishment in baseball? Let us know below...
Lang Whitaker is the executive editor of SLAM magazine and writes daily at SLAMonline.com
How about winning a hitter's triple crown? You have to lead the league in home runs, batting average and RBIs.
Most hitters either hit for power or hit for average. It's extremely difficult, almost impossible to do both.
For pitchers it would either be three pitches, three outs or striking out the side on nine pitches. You know at some point somebody will take a pitch.
For teams it would be winning back to back World Series. You can count the franchises who have done it: Boston Red Sox, NY Yankees (several times), NY-SF Giants, Philadelphia-KC-Oakland Athletics, Cincinnati Reds, Toronto Blue Jays and Chicago Cubs.
hitting the home run cycle this past friday Jayson Werth hit three home runs (three run, grand slam, and solo) he needed a two run shot for the home run cycle. it's only been done once by a minor leaguer
Think speed and distance.... The triple has to be harder than the home run. Just look at the number of triples hit per year compared to the number of dingers. An inside-the-park home run may also be considered. Also, rather than consider the "stolen base" as tough, why not loot at the ultimate? The steal of home. The game's more complicated movements related to starting runners, hit & run and run & hit plays can lead to the uncovered base. A steal can go unchallenged in a "double steal" situation. A steal of home never goes unchallenged. Home is never uncovered.
Although hitting a home run is tough, through my physical and visual experience, I have found it much harder to hit a triple. You need speed, baserunning ability, and to hit a ball into the perfect spot to give yourself enough time.
Even look at the pro stats. Every year someone hits at least 40 HRs, but how often does someone get even 20 triples in one season?
4. Replace hitting a home run with "hitting a grand slam". Even Ozzie Smith could rip a dinger from time-to-time, but load the bases and a whole new set of pressures settle upon the hitter. Some power guys turn into whimps in that situation--Eric Karros went nearly a whole career before he crashed the Grand Salami Barrier.
5. Hitting a triple. Case in point, Mike Piazza: Career stats, 17 SB but only eight 3-baggers.
how bout winning the triple crown? or a 56-game hitting streak? striking out 20 people in one game? hitting 4 homeruns in a game? all seem more difficult than stealing a base (since I saw Paul Konerko do that already this year)
1. Triple Crown (Batter) 2. Perfect Game 3. Triple Crown (Pitcher) 4. No Hitter 5. Hitting for the Cycle
Home run......are you serious? This has become as pedestrian as kicking a field goal in football....it happens everyday in virtually every game. If were were still in the days when 10 HR's in a season was a remarkable feet - then maybe - but in a day and age where 20 - 30 HR's is the average, it's no longer a tough achievement.
Winning the MVP award - especially if you're a pitcher - how's that for a tough individual achievement? Baseball is so political with it's post season awards - and they wait so long to announce it so it doesn't "distract from the playoffs/world series" that nobody pays any attention to it.
They should do what ever other sport does and announce their post season awards BEFORE the season is over.
I usually find out who the Rookie of the year was sometime around week 4 of the following season. Same with the Cy Young award - and gold gloves.....etc.
every time I hear the cycle, I want to scream. I mean who really tries to get one?? Anytime you get 4 hits in a game it's a great game. Are you saying if someone gets a homer, triple and 2 doubles, it's not as good as a stupid cycle?? Gimme a break!!
how about playing 14 years in the major leagues with diabetes thats tough ron santo is amazing and heres a little know story he hit a walkoff homerun while seeing 3 of everything while havin a reaction during a game
all these are great picks. All the comments are great and they are all incredibly hard to do. I am suprised though that no one has thought about a 20+ strike out game. It's been a long time since it's happened and it is extremely rare. Hell, i can't even do it in video games, and i've done the rest of these things dozens of times. that's how hard it is. the 20 20 20 20 club is unbelieveable too! For J-Roll and Granderson to do it back to back is unreal.
Stealing a base should not be on there. Base stealing is down because teams don't try. It's a remant of the long-ball 'roid era. Why risk it when someone might hit it out? I see someone actually get caught stealing about once or twice a season in the games, I watch. Teams should run more often. They'd get far more catchers ganking one into centerfield than actually getting the runner out.
How about hitting two grand slams in one game, one from the left side and one from the right side. The Red Sox third baseman Mueller did it a few years ago. I think both home runs were in the same inning !
Well, the biggest problem I can see with many people's retorts is that they go against the writer's original intent (even though it was only implied rather than overtly stated: achievements that can be accomplished in one game.
A pitcher throwing a no-hitter and having a multple-homer day at the plate, in the same game, as Rick Wise did for the Phillies in 1971. It never happened before in the Bigs and to my knowledge has never happened since.
THE BIGGEST ACHIVEMENT IN BASEBALL IS GETTING OUT OF THE STADIUM IN UNDER 3 HOURS WITHOUT SPENDING $250. I LIKE MOST PEOPLE HAVE ABANDONED BASEBALL FOR WAITING FOR THE NFL TO START. BUNCH OF STEROID POPPING CHEATING BASEBALL PLAYERS, NO INTEGRITY IN THE GAME
You think 4K's in a half inning is impossible? We just had a guy here in Rockford, IL that struck out 5 in a half inning. One of only a very very few in the entirety of organized pro ball that have accomplished that little trick...