Longer Season Prompts Broken Records

As was predicted at the beginning of the baseball season, the longer 100-game schedule has produced record-breaking performances that in some cases took down player records that were decades old.

Most notably to fall was the long-standing record for single-season hits, which was established in 1995 when Chuck Provost had 147 over an 80-game year (though he played in just 78 games), the same season he set the batting average record of .444.

Anchorage Aces outfielder Katai Kitigawa broke that record, but needed the full 100 games to do it, hitting safely three times on the last day of this season to attain 150 hits. Hall of Famer Provost now falls to the #2 position on the season hits leaderboard.

Provost had also carried the single-season record for doubles since 1998, with 34. Again, playing only 78 games that year, the Hall of Famer’s record stood until this season, when three players broke it: Jose Ramirez (Montreal) and Bruce Aberto (Boston) both tied to set a new record of 38 doubles, while Zong-ming Gang (Boston) had 35.

New York’s Tony Cruz broke his own record for single-season strikeouts, going down on 3rd strikes 139 times this season. His previous record of 124, set in 2015, was also broken by Bill Ross (Boston), and Mike Jennings (Battle Creek), who had 136 and 132, respectively.

The only career batting record to be broken was Francisco Erazo, who already held the record for career bases on balls. He extended the record by another 55 walks added this season, setting the bar at 1,171 career bases on balls. The nearest active player, who is 3rd on the list, is Bill Ross at 830. Hall of Famers Carl Simms is second with 1,098.

Probably the most predictable record to be broken was going to the the single-season at bats record. Last season, Xavier de Soto managed to squeeze in 375 AB’s over the 82-game schedule. This year, with an extra 18 games to play with, 41 batters broke the record, including de Soto himself. The new record is now 435 AB’s, which belongs to Boston’s Aberto.

Pitching records

Montreal pitcher Judson Martel, who ended the season injured, set a record for ERA with 1.36 this season

From the pitcher’s mound, several records fell as a result of the longer schedule, notably wins and innings pitched. But a new ERA record was also set, despite the longer season, which would not normally presume favorable to a lower earned run average.

That ERA record now belongs to Judson Martel (Montreal), who pitched 16 games during the season before tearing an elbow ligament on August 8 and missing the last 4 weeks of the season. His ERA at that time was 1.36, with 126 innings, well over the 100 innings needed to qualify. This breaks 9-time Sandy Koufax Award winner Ricky Terrazas’ record of 1.54 set in 2012 (also with Montreal). Terrazas retired in 2016 and will almost assuredly be admitted into the Hall of Fame when eligible.

Two pitchers set a new wins record: rookie phenom Jose Soto (Anchorage), and Frasor Clause (Ohio). Both pitchers ended the year with 15 win decisions, breaking the previous record of 14 set by Lien-ying Li in 2012, while playing for California.

Soto had the additional prestige of finding himself at 2nd on the all-time undefeated streak, going 21 games without a loss decision. He ended the year undefeated, and should he make good in two more starts without a loss decision, he will tie the 2007-2010 record set by Matt Hanna, who was with Nevada at the time. Soto is only the third pitcher in Bull League history to finish the season pitching 100 or more innings and holding a 1.000 win percentage.  Hanna did it in 2009, along with Terrazas in the same year.

Five pitchers broke the single-season starts record of 21 set by Kris Thomas of Boston in 1995. One of those stands alone with the new record, as Ricky Rodriguez (Jacksonville) made 23 starts through this season. Rodriguez also set the new innings pitched record, with 187 frames pitched. Nine other pitchers broke the previous record of 156.0 set by F.Y. Jackass (New York) in 1995.

Ohio’s Heath Smokem gave up 85 free passes to first base and thereby set a new single-season record for bases on balls this year, six more than previous title holders Ian Vickerson (Chicoutimi) and Logan Starr (Toronto).

Two notable pitching records were tied this season, saves and shutouts. Adam Fitzpatrick (Seattle) tied Nate Kremer’s (Jacksonville) 29 saves record set in 2015. Fitzpatrick also ended the season with a 32 save streak on the go, though he has a way to go to catch the all-time saves streak honor held by Chicago’s Brian Bell, started in 1995 and ended in 1997.

Judson Martel tied the single-season shutout record of 4, and joins Knuckles Malone (Toronto) who did it in 2015, and Niek Rodriguez (Ohio) who did it in 2011.

A few career records were set or set higher as well. Jacksonville’s Angelo Rodriguez pushed the all-time career wins record up to 147 when he added 9 more this year. Nick MacLellan of Denver tacked on 18 more saves to his previous career record of 234. Only one other reliever had more than 200 career saves, Hall of Famer Brian Peckham (California) with 225.

With 21 starts this season, Angelo Rodriguez moved the bar for career starts up to 284. His 7 complete games pushed up the career CG record to 65. He is also the only pitcher with more than 2,000 career innings pitched, holding the record with 2,144.2 after he added 170 more this year. The veteran is also ignominiously holds the career record for most hits allowed, a by-product of pitching so many innings to be sure. His 1,986 hits stands 131 more than the next player on the list, Bill Henson. More honorably, Rodriguez is the all-time career strikeout record holder, having sent down batters 2,146 times in his 18 years. He is the only pitcher to break the 2,000 K mark so far.

William Febres (New York), who may one day join Rodriguez atop some some of these lists, has a reputation of being notoriously difficult to hit off of. And the proof is in his career record low Hits/9 IP of just 6.4. He is third on the career K/9 IP list, at 12.2 after this season. The all-time career K/9 IP record is in the hands of Micah Jones (Jacksonville) at 12.5.

Overall, there have been some surprises with new batting and pitching records being set this season, though it was expected that many of the stats based on playing time and number of games would of course be crushed with the added 18 games.

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