There isn’t really much going on in MLB right now. It is still a week from Spring Training. It is too deep into the offseason to project signings. Most teams have a complete roster, barring injury during camp. So this is just a little fun article about some major MLB news this season.
Let’s talk about milestones! It seems like a lot of players are within striking distance of major milestones this year. Some of them are Hall of Fame numbers, some are tainted by PED use, some are just fun.
A couple of Tigers will reach major milestones this year:
Francisco Rodriguez (K-Rod) the Tigers new closer is only 14 saves away from 400 for his career, a number that has only been achieved by 5 other players. And sadly, not all five of those players have made it to the Hall. He has averaged 41 saves over the last two years, so this record should fall in early June. He is only 34 years old, so 500 is still completely possible for him. Currently not a single pitcher is in the 500 save club (although there are 2 in the 600 club). 500 would guarantee a Hall of Fame trip for K-Rod, but he is already considered a strong candidate.
Justin Verlander should reach 2,000 strikeouts! He is only 57 shy of that mark. If he has the year everyone is expecting, he should reach that goal by mid-May, start 8 or 9. A few years ago 3,000 seemed like a lock and a lofty goal of 4,000 seemed reasonable. Things have changed a bit, but 2,000 is still rarified air for pitchers.
Victor Martinez is 9 RBI away from 1,000 for his career. Extremely impressive for a guy who was a catcher for most of his career. Impressive for any hitter, but especially a catcher.
Ian Kinsler is 3 stolen bases away from 200 and he is 58 runs away from 1,000 for his career.
JD Martinez is already approaching 100 homers in his short career, just 15 away.
Miggy Cabrera is within earshot of a slew of milestones. He is 8 doubles away from 500 (which is a Hall of Fame number). He is 169 hits away from 2500 (also a Hall of Fame number). He is 55 RBI away from 1500 (Hall of Fame number). 64 walks until he reaches 1,000 (not really ever considered a Hall of Fame number but very few players have more than this). 71 runs away from 1300. Impressive list for sure.
Around the league there are some awesome things to watch.
One of my favorite players, Ichiro Suzuki needs just 65 hits to reach the 3,000 plateau. This would make him the 15th player to reach this level in my lifetime, of course I only remember a handful of those. I remember Gwynn, Ripken, Ricky, Palmeiro, Biggio, Jeter and A-Rod. I was watching the game live for the last three. It will be great to cement Ichiro’s Hall of Fame legacy this year. And maybe even more interesting, Ichiro is only 44 hits away (so this will happen first) from totaling 4,257 hits in professional baseball. The number 4,256 doesn’t stick with some people for some reason, but that is the MLB record set by Pete Rose. People will say that Ichiro didn’t do that all in MLB which is the more difficult league, but I have to wonder if late 90’s Nippon Baseball is better than 70’s MLB? Who knows. It is still incredible, and like I said, one of my favorite players, and he will be the first Japanese born player in the Hall of Fame.
Probably not very popular, but if A-Rod has a similar season to last year, not only will he pass 700 homers, he will also pass Babe Ruth’s total. Unlike 4,256, the number 714 is engrained in most baseball fans heads. Even though it hasn’t been the record for decades, it is still a gold standard for achievement. I have seen that number passed twice in my lifetime, hell, twice since I graduated from college, and neither player will be elected into the Hall of Fame any time soon.
A couple more Yankees can make some waves this year by not only joining the 400 homer club, but by almost doubling the number of switch-hitters in that club. Teixeira and Beltran will expand the 400 homer list to 55 names this summer, but there are only 3 switches in that list: Mantle, Murray, Chipper.
And finally, Verlander is not the only person joining the 2,000 K club this summer, two more lefties and the biggest free agent this winter should all get there as well, Kershaw (can I really say that 254 strikeouts away is likely? With Kershaw I can), Hamels and Greinke.
It should be a fun summer watching these player check off these milestones and pass them by!