Hitting streaks spanning offseasons are most impressive
Written by Jim Mancari
Published: 09 May 2013
With David Ortiz’s recent 27-game hitting streak now over, it once again brings up the debate about whether hitting streaks should carry over from the previous season.
He hit safely in his first 15 games this season after coming off the disabled list on April 20. He finished off last season on a 12-game hitting streak.
In recent memory, Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins hit safely in 38 straight games spanning the 2005 and 2006 seasons.
Though Joe DiMaggio set the standard with his 56-game hitting streak all in the same season, a hitting streak that spans an entire offseason is actually harder to maintain.
Think of DiMaggio’s streak. He was seeing the ball so well during that time that there was no stopping him. He got into such a good rhythm at the plate that it was inevitable that he’d reach base via a hit.
In fact, in the game he finally did not record a hit, he hit two scorching ground balls down the third base line that Cleveland Indians’ third baseman Ken Keltner snagged and made strong throws for the outs.
After that oh-fer, DiMaggio kept up his torrid stretch by hitting in another 18 straight games. Recording hits in 74 of 75 games isn’t too shabby.
But now let’s look at a streak that spanned an offseason, like that of Rollins or Ortiz. As hot as these players ended off the previous season, each year usually takes some sort of adjustment period to get back in the swing of things -- literally and figuratively.
Sure, a player can merely go 1-for-4 every game, which isn’t exactly scorching at the plate. But even that is asking a lot so early in a season.
Some baseball pundits may claim that a player on a hitting streak to end a season will have nearly six months to rest before resuming the streak and that therefore it is not a continuous streak.
Yet, it actually is since the games are technically in a row. And during the offseason, a player is likely more focused on at least getting some rest as opposed to the daily grind of playing every day during the season.
If a player is hot and seeing the ball well, he’ll have a better chance of keeping a hitting streak alive. Of course, there is always some luck involved as well, just like it was unlucky that DiMaggio’s streak happened to end when it did or else we could potentially be talking about his record 75-game hitting streak rather than 56.
A continuous hitting streak is certainly impressive, especially given today’s travel between cities all over the country in a short period of time. But think of the beginning of the season: all the travel, all the grind, all the cold weather for some teams…and all that after playing a month’s worth of meaningless spring training exhibition games in Florida.
And in the recent case of Ortiz, he came off the disabled list to continue the streak, which is even more impressive.