A Wall Street Journal article named "Baseball May Be Running out of Milestones" posed the question of whether baseball was running out of firsts. I can understand the concern, although it doesn't worry me very much.
The first thing to understand is that the article would only would classify something as a milestone if it was truly a first. If something happens for the first time since 1912, it doesn't count. If you pitch 2 consecutive no-hitters, that doesn't count either, because it's been done. You would need to pitch 3 no-hitters for it to be considered a milestone.
If you're willing to stretch it, which I guess they're not, there will always be firsts because there are so many different stats in baseball (such as the first time a left-handed closer has saved 30 games at night with a SO/BB over 5.00).
Luckily, there are plenty of rare events (and even firsts) that could happen fans could get excited about if they happened this year. Honestly, even if it's the first time it's happened in someone's lifetime, that will probably be good enough. Here are a few:
- 7 hits in a 9 inning game Happened once in the 20th century - Rennie Stennett on September 16, 1975 for Pirates in a 22-0 blowout at Wrigley Strangely enough, Stennett was the last player to have 7 hits in a game, even including long extra inning games (it happened 3 other times in extra innings: 1932 (Johnny Burnett), 1962 (Rocky Colavito) and 1970 (Cesar Gutierrez) There have been 38 games where a player got 6 hits since 1976 (only Kirby Puckett did it twice)
- Single-Season Record for doubles: 67 (or even 60 doubles)Earl Webb set the record in 1931 with 67. The closest anyone has gotten since 1936 was Todd Helton, with 59 in 2000. Maybe 67 is out of reach, but at this point 60 would be great.
- 100 stolen basesThe modern record is 130 by Rickey Henderson in 1982. The last player to have 100 was Vince Coleman in 1987. No one has ever reached 80 since Vince Coleman in 1988. This is the type of thing that doesn't seem plausible now, but will probably happen at some point. The most stolen bases in a season since 1988 was Jose Reyes, with 78 in 2007.
- 2 perfect games in ML in one seasonSeveral times, there have almost been 2 in a calender year (Jim Bunning in June 1964, Sandy Koufax in September 1965), (David Wells in May 1998, David Cone in July 1999), but not since 1880 have there been 2 in one year (they were actually 5 days apart!)
- Hit a Home Run in 8 or more gamesThe record is 8, held by Dale Long (1956), Don Mattingly (1987) and Ken Griffey Jr. (1993) It's not like no one has gotten close. Kevin Mench had home runs in 7 consecutive games in 2007, as did Barry Bonds in 2004 and Jim Thome in 2002. Right now, Chase Utley and Matt Kemp are at 4. This would be one of the best, because everyone could follow it over a week or more, unlike a one game event like 7 hits
- The single-season record for HR by a 2nd basemen43 by Davey Johnson in 1973. Chase Utley already has 6 this year.
I wouldn't be surprised if there are more firsts that people are expecting this year, not to mention plenty of rare baseball events that are unexpected and exciting. I'll keep looking, so keep checking back in.