Do people even realize how difficult it is to play a typical 162-game schedule in Major League Baseball?
I've been following the American League Cy Young race recently. Josh Beckett and C.C. Sabathia have both been putting up some impressive numbers. Sabathia of the Cleveland Indians holds a record of 18-7 and has 205 strikeouts in 234 innings. His ERA is 3.19, and he has started 33 games so far this year...tops in the AL. Beckett of the Boston Red Sox also has put up equally impressive statistics: a record of 20-4, 188 strikeouts in 194 innings, and has started 29 games this year.
I note that Sabathia and Beckett have started 33 and 29 games, respectfully, because I think of all the statistics games started is the most impressive. For both pitchers and position players, being able to remain healthy throughout the course of an entire season is critical.
In Sabathia's case, equally as important as his ERA, strikeouts and wins is the fact that he has remained healthy and started 33 games. Many baseball fans don't appreciate the rugged grind of playing every day; it's commonplace for players to play with nagging injuries for months at a time.
So what does this mean on the amateur level? I coach college-aged players and we typically play only 5-6 games in a given week. In 2008, our schedule will change dramatically, as we will have a more condensed calendar to play our 56 games.
When former Santa Clara Broncos return to campus, the biggest thing they notice is that we play more games on a regular basis. Professional baseball is different than college baseball in that the season is structured for players to play everyday. But durability continues to be an important part of baseball--no matter what level you're playing.
Something we should all appreciate as another grueling 162-game Major League Baseball season comes to a close.