Upcoming all-time statistical milestonesby Chris Jaffe
September 17, 2012
On Saturday night, as you may have heard, a bit of odd baseball history was made when Marlins infielder Jose Reyes muffed a play for the 500,000th recorded error in baseball history. It wasn’t that long ago that baseball had its 250,000th home run (Gary Sheffield hit it on Sept. 8, 2008). Last year on Independence Day, baseball had its 200,000th game.
So now that the quest for the 500,000th error is over, what’s the next upcoming all-time milestone to get its countdown?
First, let me preface this by saying none of the info is exact or official. (In fact, the 500,000th error isn’t really official either. Baseball-Reference.com founder/guru Sean Forman began his countdown to 500,000 noting that his info might be off due to occasional discrepancies in the historical record.
This info also comes from B-Ref, so the same caveat applies. Actually, it’s far, far stronger. I copied the data down years ago (and have updated it ever since), and there have to be some extra errors I made along the way. (And that’s even before you get into the fact that many of these stats haven’t even been recorded for all of baseball history.) Still, it should work out in general.
Finally, I ignore the National Association from 1871-75. I just plain don’t consider that to be a real major league. Some of the other countdown sites (all of them?) include it, though.
Anyhow, here are the countdowns upon us from most recent onward:
70,000 (known) intentional walks: early 2013: The stat only began to be kept in the 1950s, but we topped 69,000 earlier this year. The season should end at 69,800 or so intentional free passes. It looks like early May or so of next year we’ll get to 70,000.
14,000 balks: early 2013. We began this season with 13,797 balks by my count. We’ve had 145 so far this year. We should get another 15 or so. Thus, around the quarter the way through next year, MLB will hit 14,000.
100,000 hit-by-pitch: 2013: By my reckoning, we’re on the verge of our 99,000th sore rib. There were over 1,500 last year, and there are already over 1,300 this year. This one will definitely fall in 2013.
14,000,000 at-bats: very end of 2013 or very early 2014: From 1876-2011, I tally 13,672,838 at-bats. There were 165,705 in all major league baseball last year, so at that pace No. 14,000,000 will happen when some team plays its 159th game in 2013. Then again, if offensive levels fall a bit, it might not happen until 2014.
1,300,000th walk: early 2014: Based on my data and current rates, this should happen in April of 2014.
220,000th sacrifice hit: early 2014: It’s been recorded since 1894, and this should happen early in 2014.
11,000,000th putout: 2014: I can only assume this one has a pretty steady per-game rate. Expect this level to happen a third of the way through 2014.
600,000th relief pitcher: 2014: If anyone cares, it took until 1952 that baseball called on its 100,000th reliever. In a sign of how times have changed, we hit the half-million mark in 2007 and should make the next 100,000 marker just seven years later.
220,000 grounded into double play: 2014: This one isn’t such a big deal. There were over 3,500 last year, so the next 10,000 level should occur every three years for this stat, which has only been kept by both leagues since the 1950s. Around 2034 or so we’ll have No. 300,000.
130,000th triple: late 2014 : There were 898 last year and have been over 830 so far this year. Baseball topped 129,000 this year, so it should get there next year, maybe in August. (On a complete side note, let’s pause to acknowledge that last year someone belted the 600,000th double, unloved and unrecorded).
2,000,000th strikeout: late 2014: It took until 1976 for 1,000,000 strikeouts to happen, but the pace has picked up since then. (In a quirk, because some leagues didn’t used to record batter strikeouts, we won’t have our 2,000,000 whiff in hitter stats until 2017 or so).
16,000,000th plate appearance: 2015: Due to expansion and the 162-game schedule, we get over 180,000 of these a year. The 15-million marker apparently fell around 2010, and 16 million should come up around 2015.
70,000th sacrifice fly: mid-2015: This stat has only been around since the middle of last century. There are apparently over 1,000 of these per year.
300,000th stolen base: late 2015 or early 2016: This stat also wasn’t kept back in the 19th century, but we’re a little over three years from there given recent trends.
140,000th complete game: late 2016 or early 2017: There have been over 139,000, but the way the game goes these days, it’ll take several years to finish off the last 1,000.
100,000th known caught stealing: late 2018 or early 2019: In reality, there have been far, far more than 100,000 caught stealings already. But this is one of those stats that wasn’t officially recorded for a while.
70,000th save: late 2018 or early 2019: Who knew it would take so long for the save milestone to be reached? About half of all games have a save now, and it’s hard to have a higher percentage than that, so this rate isn’t likely to rise. We just had No, 60,000 back in 2011, so it’ll take several years to get to the next level.
300,000th home run: 2019: There are well over 4,000 a year, so it shouldn’t take the game that long to go from 250,000 to 300,000.
5,000,000th assist: 2020: Here’s a stat no one pays any attention to, but there are nearly 50,000 per season.
2,000,000th run: late 2020 or early 2021: The millionth run was scored by Bob Watson in 1975, and that was a big news item at the time, so I can only assume people will pay attention to this one when it comes around.
4,000,000th hit: late 2020 or early 2021: Wouldn’t it be something if the 4,000,000th hit drove in the 2,000,000th run? It’ll never happen, but one can always dream.
6,000,000th total base: 2023: Yeah, it’ll take a while.
History instructor by day, statnerd by night, Chris Jaffe leads one of the most exciting double lives imaginable; with the exception of every other double life possible to imagine. Despite his lack of comic-book-hero-worthiness, Chris enjoys farting around with this stuff. His new book, Evaluating Baseball's Managers is available for order. Chris welcomes responses to his articles via e-mail. Oh, and now he's on twitter.