Best Baseball Records Ever: Our Picks
If you want to learn about the best baseball records ever, you're in the right place.
In this article we share our top 5 picks for the best records in baseball history.
There've been lots of great records in the game, and yes our list is subjective, but we think after reading you'll agree that these five records are super impressive.
Ready? Let's go!
Top 5 Baseball Records
#5. Joe DiMaggio's 56 Game Hitting Streak
Joe DiMaggio's record of hitting safely in 56 consecutive games in 1941 is a remarkable achievement that has stood for over 80 years.
What impresses us most about the streak is how clutch it was. Joe D had to feel a ton of pressure each day as the streak went on, but he kept producing.
DiMaggio hit for an impressive .408 average during the streak, and he continued contributing on the field as well, eventually helping lead the New York Yankees to the 1941 World Series title.
The closest anyone has come to breaking the record was Pete Rose, who hit safely in 44 straight games in 1978.
Joltin Joe's record has become iconic in baseball history because it's so darn hard to replicate.
To hit in 56 consecutive big league games, you've got to have an incredible amount of skill, luck, good health and focus. DiMaggio had this, and he made history between May 15 to July 16, 1941.
Unique Facts About Joe DiMaggio's Hitting Streak
- DiMaggio got hits off of Elden Auker and Johnny Rigney for four different games each - the most of any pitcher he faced during the streak.
- During his streak, Joe D got hits off of four different Hall of Fame pitchers: Lefty Grove, Hal Newhouser, Bob Feller and Ted Lyons.
- DiMaggio extended his streak for 12 games against the St. Louis Browns and for another 12 games against the Chicago White Sox - the most of any opponent.
- Many people know Joltin Joe collected 91 hits, 15 home runs, 55 RBIs while striking out only 5 times during his 56 game hitting streak. But did you know he also drew three intentional walks, was hit by two pitches and was caught stealing once during the streak?
#4. Nolan Ryan's 5,714 Career Strikeouts
Nolan Ryan has the most career strikeouts (5,714) of any pitcher in baseball history.
Ryan played parts of four different decades for four different teams over an impressive 27 seasons.
The sheer volume of his strikeouts is mind-blowing and is a testament to his dominance on the mound and his longevity as a pitcher.
The Ryan Express was known for his overwhelming fastball and his tendency to strike out hitters with ease. He was a hard worker and a fierce competitor who never backed down from a challenge, and his record is a reflection of his unwavering dedication to his craft.
Unique Facts About Nolan Ryan's Career Strikeout Record
- Notable strikeout victims of Ryan's include Hank Aaron (4 K's), Johnny Bench (7 K's), Barry Bonds (3 K's), Pete Rose (13 K's), Mike Schmidt (15 K's) and Deion Sanders (2 K's).
- Nolan Ryan's highest bWAR in a season was 7.8, which came in 1977 while with the California Angels. That season, he struck out 341 batters.
- On July 22, 1986 at the Astrodome, Ryan tossed a 1 hitter through 9+ innings against the Montreal Expos. He struck out 14 batters that game, including two Hall of Famers in the first inning alone. Tim Raines, the leadoff batter, struck out looking. Andre Dawson struck out swinging.
#3. Hack Wilson's 191 RBIs in 1930
Hack Wilson owns the record for most RBIs in a single season with 191.
That's a ton of RBIs in one year, and it's mighty impressive that the record has stood for well over 90 years.
The 5ft 6in Wilson was a feared hitter and a force at the plate in 1930. His huge number of RBIs, .356 batting average and MLB leading 56 home runs that year powered the Chicago Cubs to a 90-64-2 record.
What's even cooler to think about is that Hack's 191 RBI's in 1930 occurred during a 156 game season - shorter than seasons in the modern era.
The following season Lou Gehrig of the Yankees knocked in 185 runners. That would be the closest anyone ever came to threatening Hack's amazing record.
Unique Facts About Hack Wilson's RBI Record
- Of his 191 RBI's in 1930, 116 (60.7%) were hit at Wrigley Field - Hack's home stadium. The location with the next highest RBI count that year? Philadelphia's Baker Bowl (18).
- Hack Wilson began the year at a slow RBI pace, racking up just 11 in April. Then he went wild, collecting 180 RBIs between May and September. His most productive month was August 1930, when he tallied 53 RBIs (27.7%) that month.
- The vast majority of Hack's record breaking RBIs in 1930 came against right handed pitching. In total, 139 (72.7%) of his RBIs came against righties.
#2. Cy Young's 511 Career Wins
Cy Young has the most wins of any pitcher in baseball history with 511.
We don't usually like to use the term unbreakable, but based on the style of MLB pitching today, this record is about as unbreakable as they come.
Young was an absolutely dominant pitcher who just happened to also be a workhorse. In addition to his record for wins, he also holds the MLB record for most innings pitched all time, with 7,356 innings. (Which as a quick sidebar, is likely another baseball record that will never be broken.)
Throughout his career Young maintained an incredible 2.63 ERA, which further illustrates his superiority as a pitcher.
Additionally, he racked up double digits in wins for 19 of his 22 big league seasons, including five seasons with 30 or more wins.
Young's career wins record is not just a reflection of his talent, but also his ability to perform at a high level over an extended period.
That, plus a lot of grit, mental toughness and good teams to back him up.
Unique Facts About Cy Young's Career Wins Record
- The highest win total in a single season for Young was 1892, when he went 36 - 12 for the Cleveland Spiders. That season he kept a 1.93 ERA and he threw 9 shutouts, 48 complete games and pitched 453 innings.
- Cy Young pitched 10 or more innings in 32 games across his career. Most resulted in a win, but not all of them.
- Young had a 45 inning scoreless streak between April and May 1904.
- Cy Young still managed to win 75 games at the age of 40 or older.
#1. Cal Ripken Jr.'s 2,632 Consecutive Games Played
In our opinion, Cal Ripken Jr.'s record of most consecutive games played of 2,632 games is the best baseball record ever.
The record is the embodiment of perseverance, dedication, work ethic and toughness. It’s about showing up day-in and day-out and putting in the work.
And not just “putting in the work”, but doing so in an excellent manner. Ripken - now a Hall of Famer - was a great ballplayer for the Orioles who won two MVPs, made 19 AL all star games and collected over 3,000 career hits.
If you look up more info about Cal’s consecutive games streak, you’ll see that he often played through minor injuries, illnesses and pain. He simply refused to sit out, and he was widely respected for his dedication to the game.
This record has become an iconic part of baseball history and an inspiration to many players to push themselves to their limits.
It’s also a personal reminder of the importance of consistency and dedication to your craft - lessons that are valuable to anyone.
Unique Facts About Cal Ripken Jr.’s Consecutive Games Streak
- One of the best games during Cal's streak took place on May 28, 1996 in Seattle against the Mariners. During that game he hit a career high 3 home runs and 8 RBIs while leading Baltimore to a 12 - 8 win.
- Cal Ripken Jr.'s highest fielding percentage during the streak came in 1990, when he had an MLB leading .996 fielding percentage at shortstop over 1,406.1 innings.
- During a game against the Brewers on May 22, 1993 at Camden Yards, Cal was hit by a pitch twice in the same game - a career high.
Bonus: Ivan Rodriguez's Record for Most Games Caught
Since our site is primarily focused on catchers, it wouldn't be right to not include a catcher in our list of the best baseball records ever!
The most impressive record a catcher has ever had in our opinion is Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez's record for most games caught all-time at 2,427 games.
Rodriguez spent 21 seasons in the big leagues and was arguably the best catcher in the game in the 90s and early 2000s.
He won the 1999 AL MVP, was a 14 time all star, won 13 gold gloves and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2017.
Catcher's have a demanding job, and the fact that Rodriguez hung in there for so long, showing up behind the plate year after year, speaks volumes to his grit, dedication and talent.
That's why Pudge's record for most games caught stands out so much to us.
That's A Wrap!
We appreciate you stopping by to read this article on the most famous baseball records. Hopefully you found it interesting!
If you'd like to get in touch, feel free to head over to our contact page and get in touch with us.
- Baseball Reference
- National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum