Clap your hands for errorless streaks
Steady play, dose of luck earn players notice on defense
Streaks have long been part of baseball's illustrious history.
There's Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hit streak. There's Cal Ripken Jr.'s astonishing stretch of 2,632 consecutive games played. There's Orel Hershiser's 59 scoreless innings streak, and Eric Gagne's 84 consecutive saves.
Those, of course, are some of more famous streaks, but there are many other impressive streaks out there. Take, for example, errorless streaks. Many couldn't say which players hold records for consecutive games without an official miscue.
You might not know that Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis holds baseball's all-time record for consecutive fielding chances and games without an error at any position. He handled 2,002 straight chances, stretching 238 games, from 2006-08.
But even Youkilis downplayed that record when it ended on a dropped throw at first base from then-Red Sox second baseman Alex Cora.
"I'm hugely disappointed; I might not be able to go to sleep tonight," Youkilis joked after committing the error. "No ... it's part of the game."
Youkilis isn't the only active player to own such a streak, Current Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco set the Major League record for consecutive games without an error at second base: 186 games, leading to 911 chances, from 2006-08 while he was with the Tigers.
Polanco, though, chalked up his impressive stretch to luck, as it ended on a relay throw to third base ending up in the dugout.
RECORD ERRORLESS STREAKS
"I'm very fortunate to have held that streak for so long," Polanco said at the time. "It's baseball. I'm very lucky."
Part of the reason errorless streaks haven't stuck in the minds of many is that errors are subjective and just one part of judging a fielder. Such a streak doesn't factor in range the way advanced fielding metrics do.
But errors can still give offer a good read on the steadiness of a fielder's hands, his throwing accuracy and oftentimes his baseball IQ.
And as Polanco noted, there's plenty of luck involved, but that's the case with just about any streak, and it's what makes them fun.
So with that in mind, we've created an all-hands team based on current players who have carried impressive streaks, some of them still active, during their careers.
Here's a look at the all-hands team, position by position:
First base: Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox
He set the Major League record with 238 consecutive errorless games at first base, but Youkilis faces some stiff competition from Mariners first baseman Casey Kotchman, who reached 203 consecutive games without an error on Monday. He joined Youkilis as the only first basemen in big league history to have an error-free streak of more than 200 games. Still, Youkilis, who won a Gold Glove in 2007 after an errorless campaign, gets the nod over the sure-handed Kotchman.
Second base: Placido Polanco, Phillies
It's almost cheating because Polanco was moved to third base this season when he joined the Phillies, but it's hard not to include a player who won two Gold Gloves at the position and didn't commit an error there in 141 games in 2008. And he followed that up last season by committing a Major League-low two errors at his position.
Third base: Scott Rolen, Reds
With so many hot shots down the line and the long throw required from third to first, it's no wonder why it's so difficult to maintain an errorless streak at the hot corner. But Rolen, the owner of seven Gold Gloves, committed five errors last year and had an impressive 50-game streak back in 2007. A's third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff, who had just three errors last year with the Padres, finishes in a close second.
Shortstop: Jimmy Rollins, Phillies
Rollins is noted for his range at shortstop, which makes his ability to avoid defensive miscues even more impressive. The three-time Gold Glover played a franchise-record 86 straight games (84 starts) without an error from May 31 to Sept. 9 last season and had 54 straight errorless games in 2007. Even with that impressive run, he was quite a ways off former Orioles shortstop Mike Bordick's record 110 straight errorless games set in 2002.
Left field: Jason Bay, Mets
Bay has received some flak for his lack of range in left field, but he rarely makes a mental mistake and reached the 200-consecutive-game plateau on Friday. That stands at 202 games entering Tuesday's games. He barely beats out the Royals' David DeJesus, who went a 171st game without an error on Monday, mostly in left field before he moved to right this season. He surpassed Amos Otis' Royals club record of 165 games, set in 1971-72.
Center field: Torii Hunter, Angels
It should come as no surprise that the nine-time Gold Glove Award winner makes the list, especially after playing 265 games without an error in a streak that ended last season. It was the longest such streak at the time, but it's still a ways off former Giants outfielder Darren Lewis' 369-game streak from 1991-94.
Right field: Randy Winn, Yankees
With the Yankees, Winn is no longer a regular, but that doesn't hide the fact that he's riding a 216-game errorless streak that dates back to 2008 when he was with the Giants. Mets right fielder Jeff Francoeur, who committed just one error in 2009 and won the Gold Glove in 2007, is a close second.
Catcher: Chris Snyder, D-backs
Snyder has the longest active streak by a catcher with 211 games without an error, which doesn't include passed balls. He has a shot at breaking the all-time record of 252 games set by former Cardinals catcher Mike Matheny from 2002-04.
Pitcher: Roy Oswalt, Astros
The right-hander had a streak of 121 consecutive starts without an error snapped on April 17 when he committed an error in the seventh inning against the Pirates. Oswalt, who has yet to win a Gold Glove Award despite his impressive glovework, had last committed an error in 2006.
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.