What do you get when you add together these four numbers?
18, 17, 12, and 9.
I will pause and let you dig out a calculator if you need it. Time is up. Those four numbers tally to one of the most legendary numbers in baseball–the untouchable number of 56.
In the spring and summer of 1941, the great “Joltin’ Joe” DiMaggio had the single greatest hitting performance of all time. He successfully hit in 56 straight games. During that time, he hit an incredible .408 with 15 home runs and 55 RBI. This has to be the greatest individual performance by a single baseball player ever, and it most likely will never be broken.
Or will it?
Entering tonight’s rubber match against the rival Cincinnati Reds, four Cardinals’ bats have officially “gone streakin‘” (and I do not mean the Will Ferrell Old School way here) and are on the verge of eclipsing the Yankee Clipper‘s legendary streak. The current hitting streaks of David Freese (18 games), Matt Carpenter (17 games), Allen Craig (12 games), and Carlos Beltran (9 games) total to exactly 56.
Well, I guess DiMaggio’s streak is safe after all, but I at least got you thinking. The fact that it has taken four players’ active hitting streaks to total DiMaggio’s individual hitting streak just makes you appreciate what he did that much more.
Freese, Carpenter, Craig, and Beltran are all putting together some of the more impressive hitting streaks this season, but none of them even compare to the Hall-of-Famer’s streak. Freese, the closest to 56 with 18, is only 32% of the way there.
Baseball analysts on ESPN and fans all over Twitter are marveling at the active streaks that the Cardinals have right now. This is for good reason because they are key components to a team that is widely considered the best team in baseball right now. However, one needs to look further than their combined hitting streak and respect and honor what the great Yankee center fielder was able to do.
Thus, “Where Have You Gone, Joe DiMaggio?” cannot be applied to this baseball writer and the readers of this article. Despite it happening almost 72 years ago, we, if we call ourselves true baseball fans, need to honor and remember what Joe DiMaggio was able to do for this wonderful game. His performance was not only one of the greatest individual performances ever in baseball, but also can be up for consideration as one of the greatest individual performances in all of sports.
In all likelihood, none of the four Cardinals’ hitters (Freese, Carpenter, Craig, Beltran) will come anywhere close to 56 with their current hitting streaks, but I jumped at the opportunity to write about one of baseball’s greatest players when I noticed that their current streaks added up to that number.
In the meantime, the Cardinals will need at least two (but hopefully all four) to continue their hitting streaks tonight against Bronson Arroyo if they want to win the series and extend their lead in the central.
How They’ve Done Against Arroyo:
1. Freese: 1 for 12 (.083 average)
2. Carpenter: 1 for 9 (.111 average)
3. Craig: 1 for 11 (.091 average)
4. Beltran: 10 for 29 (.345 average)
Thus, three of the four have struggled mightily against Arroyo, but they are all seeing the ball so well right now, so not only are they due against the soft-tossing righty, but they are also primed to make solid contact and record some hits.
Here’s to 56…
UPDATE after the game:
Three (Freese, Carpenter, Beltran) of the four hitters were able to keep their hitting streaks alive, largely in part to hits late in the game.
Arroyo kept his hex on Freese, Carpenter, and Craig who all went hitless against the Reds’ righty and now are a combined 3 for 41 against him–a .073 batting average.
Beltran hit a solo home run off Arroyo in the 4th inning to extend his streak to 10 games.
Carpenter got a broken-bat, RBI single in the 7th off reliever, Sam LeCure to get his streak to 18 games.
Freese, in his last chance in the 10th inning, got a single to right to not only start a rally in which the Cardinals score seven runs but to also keep his league-leading hitting streak alive at 19 games.
Craig went 0 for 5 and saw his hitting streak come to and end at 12. However, with his hitting streak ending, the Cardinals’ offense stayed hot and have three more players with hitting streaks of five games or more.
Holliday: 7 game hitting streak
Molina: 6 game hitting streak
Jay: 5 game hitting streak
Thus, if you add up all of the combined hitting streaks right now, the Cardinals sit at 65 games of active hitting streaks–a pretty remarkable number.