Baseball has several records that are considered unbreakable. One of the first that comes to mind is Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hit streak. But another that seems even more unbreakable with each passing year is Cal Ripken Jr.’s consecutive games played streak.
With players making so much money these days, teams want to keep their stars healthy. Part of this involves limiting their workload over the course of the 162-game season. That means very few players compete in every game in a season anymore. So it’s unlikely that anyone will match or surpass Ripken’s incredible feat.
Cal Ripken Jr.’s consecutive game streak
Ripken played in his 2,131st consecutive MLB game on Sept. 6, 1995, reports Forbes. This broke Lou Gehrig’s longstanding record, which ended 56 years earlier in May 1939. Ripken’s streak did end there. He played in another 500 games before taking a day off, with the final game of his streak, No. 2,632, occurring on Sept. 19, 1998.
The next day, he made the call to have Orioles manager Ray Miller set the lineup without him, reports the Baltimore Sun. The Hall of Famer ultimately played in 3,001 total games over his 21-year career, with final stats of a .276 average, 431 home runs, and 1,695 RBI.
What are the chances someone will break Ripken’s record?
It took Ripken more than 13 calendar years to break Gehrig’s record — and he added another 500 games on top of it. This means if anyone ever has a chance of breaking the streak, it will have to be somebody who is young and has a long career ahead of him.
Only five players played in all 162 games last season, according to Baseball-Reference, and none of them played in all 162 the prior season. This means no current MLB player is within 2,000 games of catching Ripken.
As teams give players more rest with each successive season, the number of players competing in every game over a season is unlikely to majorly increase anytime soon. It’s gotten to the point that Ripken’s record is probably the most unbreakable record in MLB — and perhaps in all of American pro sports.
Who has the best chance to pass Ripken?
So that brings up a question: If somebody can break Ripken’s streak, who could it be? All five players who competed in all 162 games in 2019 are 28 or older and likely can be ruled out. Playing another 12 years without sitting out a game would put them in their 40s. At that age, players are more likely to need time off, either for rest or injuries.
If you look at potential players who could pass Ripken, you should start looking at players in their early 20s. The Braves’ Ozzie Albies is 23 and has played in 158 and 160 games, respectively, in each of his first two full seasons in the majors. He’s missed just six games total in the last two seasons, but even that isn’t good enough to keep a consecutive games streak alive.
Looking at last year’s National League Rookie of the Year, Mets first baseman Pete Alonso is already 25 years old. He played in 161 games a season ago and could theoretically tie Ripken’s streak when he reaches his late 30s. But even missing one game in a season as he did last year would put an end to that possibility.