Wednesday, May 08, 2013
The Greatest Season Ever?
Cal Ripken, Jr., in 1991.
In 1991, Ripken had what may have been the greatest season ever in the history of baseball. One must go back almost 100 years to find valid comparisons.
Ripken turned 31 years old that summer. He had already reinvented the shortstop position, transforming it from a pure defensive position into an offensive-and-defensive power position. The game of baseball has never been the same since.
Ripken had the greatest defensive season ever in 1991—the only genuine competition comes from Ripken himself and his 1990 season—and yet Ripken’s offensive statistics in 1991 were staggering, too. His season was so phenomenal that, at season’s end, Ripken was awarded Major League Baseball’s MVP, the second time in his career Ripken won the award (he had first been honored with MVP in 1983).
That anyone at age 31 can even PLAY shortstop (the most exposed position on the field) is remarkable. That someone at age 31 can play shortstop at so high a level is historic.
In addition to capturing the 1991 MVP, Ripken also won the 1991 Gold Glove Award, the 1991 Louisville Slugger Award and was named MVP of the 1991 All Star Game. Amazingly, Ripken also won the Home Run Derby that season. That such a long string of awards, offensive and defensive, was conferred—deservedly—on one player was unprecedented.
Things really do not get any better than Cal Ripken in 1991.
Yet, in 1995, things were to get better still . . .