The year 2011 marks the 70th anniversary of when Joe DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak came to a close. Since then there has been twenty-seven 30+ game hitting streaks, eight of which have occurred since 2000. One most recently of which was Andre Ethier’s 30 game hitting streak that ended this past May. On July 20th, 1976 Hank Aaron set an All-Time Homerun Record of 755, a record that nobody ever thought would be surpassed. Although 31 years later Barry Bonds did just that, hitting homerun number 756 on August 8th, 2007. So, if a record like Hank Aaron’s took only 31 years to break, can someone actually break Joe DiMaggio’s 70 year standing hitting streak record?
Statistically how the game has changed in 70 years
In 1941, the year Joe DiMaggio set the hitting streak record, the average season statistics for a player in Major League Baseball was 2.4 homeruns, 41.27 hits, a .262 batting average and a .375 slugging percentage. In 2010 the average season statistics for a player was 3.7 homeruns, 34 hits, a .257 batting average and a .403 slugging percentage, which also happens to be the lowest slugging percentage in almost twenty years. By comparing the two years it can be seen that the occurrence of hits has dropped by about 17.6% while slugging percentage has increased by almost 30 points. Although highly unlikely, this statistical trend suggests hits could very well become obsolete though when occurring their run production would be exceedingly significant. While the idea that single base hits will dissipate while homeruns and higher run production hits will continue to grow is illogical, it does help pose a theory. This theory is that when hitters do make batting appearances they are attempting to create more homeruns and RBIs, or in other words, swinging for the fences.
What can be drawn from this is that in today’s current game, batters are less likely to attempt to only make contact because they are trying to create runs, not be runs. In theorem this makes sense. RBIs create wins, wins create more prospecting fans, more prospecting fans creates more money for owners, which is then more money owners can give to players who create RBIs. This creates a full circle and the name of the game is to become an instigator of that circle, a player who hits a lot RBIs.
So will a player ever break Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak?
Statistically it is unlikely. After 70 years the odds are beginning to stack up; players are developing new motives and the game is becoming more business than recreational fun. Despite this year after year there are plenty of hitting streaks that test the feat of Joe DiMaggio. Between 2005 and 2006 Jimmy Rollins became one of the closest with a 38 game hitting streak and recently Ryan Braun ended a strong 23 game hitting streak. In prospective, one can only wonder how many more months, years, or decades Joe DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak will stand unbroken.
Consecutive Games Hitting Streaks: 30+ Game Hitting Streaks in Baseball, Baseball Almanac
Current Hit Streaks, Baseball Musings
Major League Baseball Batting Encylopedia, Baseball-Reference