As the new season gets underway, a number of players are approaching notable career accomplishments, led by Ranger third baseman Adrian Beltre, just 58 hits shy of 3000 as this season begins.
More after the jump on career milestones and the new season.
In addition to chasing 3000 safeties, Beltre is also only 9 doubles away from 600 for his career and 72 runs shy of 1500. If he reaches all three of those milestones this season, Beltre would join Stan Musial and Ty Cobb as the only players with those career totals plus 1500 RBI through their age 37 season; of the three, Beltre would be the first to also reach 400 home runs at that age. Another season of 100 hits including 20 doubles would make it 19 straight for Beltre, tying him with Tris Speaker and just one behind Eddie Murray for the longest streak of such seasons. Also eyeing a milestone Hit total is Matt Holliday, just 5 away from 2000 and also 5 short of 300 home runs.
A milestone home run total also beckons for Albert Pujols, just 9 shy of 600. With the retirement of Alex Rodriguez, Pujols assumes the mantle of active home run leader, and with a very sizable lead of 135 over Miguel Cabrera in second place (Beltre is just one back of Cabrera). Pujols also has an outside shot at 3000 hits this season, but with 175 to go (a total he last reached 7 years ago), next year is the more probable timeframe for that milestone. Another season of 25 home runs and 95 RBI would be the 16th of Pujols’ career, extending the record he already holds, with A-Rod, Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth next at 14 seasons.
A trio of players (Chase Utley, Edwin Encarnacion, Ryan Braun) and possibly a fourth (David Wright) should reach 1000 RBI this season. Braun should also pass 300 home runs and 500 walks this season, Encarnacion should reach 1500 hits and Utley could surpass 400 doubles and get plunked for a 200th time, extending his lead among active players in the latter category. If he can get healthy (admittedly, a big if), Wright should also reach 400 doubles this season.
Also approaching a doubles milestone is Robinson Cano, just 21 shy of 500. He’s also needs just 22 home runs for 300. If Cano reaches both milestones this season, he would join Jeff Kent and Rogers Hornsby as the only second basemen with those career totals. Nearing 400 doubles is Nick Markakis who should also crest 2000 hits this season; if he stays healthy, a 12th consecutive season of 100 hits and 20 doubles is likely, which would make Markakis the 18th player to start a career with such a streak of seasons (Ian Kinsler could also join that group this season).
A gaggle of players are nearing 500 walks, led by Mike Trout who should become the first player since Rickey Henderson to reach that mark by his age 25 season. Only five others have done so, led by Mickey Mantle who reached 670 walks at that age, almost 50 more than the second place total of Mel Ott.
Already the career strikeout leader through age 22, 23 and 24, Mike Trout should extend that mark to age 25 this season, supplanting current record holder Justin Upton. Upton, for now the career strikeout leader through age 26, 27 and 28, is the youngest player to reach 1000 career strikeouts (at age 27 years, 12 days) and this season should become the youngest to reach 1500 whiffs for his career (likely before his 30th birthday in late August), matching the milestone achieved last season by brother Melvin.
Among a host of players approaching 1000 career strikeouts are Toronto’s catchers, Russell Martin and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, both poised to join only twelve other catchers at that mark. They would be the first pair from that group to be teammates at any point in their careers (Jorge Posada and Ivan Rodriguez both played for the 2008 Yankees but weren’t actually teammates at any point as I-Rod was acquired by New York after Posada suffered a season-ending injury).
Nearing 1000 runs scored are Adrian Gonzalez (who should also pass 2000 hits) and Hanley Ramirez. But, they won’t be the first pair of players having a surname ending in zee to reach that milestone in the same season. That distinction belongs to Keith Hernandez and Jose Cruz, way back in 1987, followed by Luis Gonzalez, Juan Gonzalez and A-Rod in 2003, and Manny Ramirez and I-Rod in 2004.
Needing 12 more stolen bases for 500 is Jose Reyes who should also pass 2000 hits this season. If he reaches those milestones, Reyes will be just the sixth player with those totals plus 1000 runs, 100 home runs and 100 triples, joining Paul Molitor, Tim Raines, Lou Brock, Kenny Lofton and Ty Cobb. Jose Altuve needs one stolen base for 200. If he can swipe 5 before his birthday in early May, he’ll pass Elvis Andrus for the most stolen bases before age 27 by a Venezuelan-born player.
Two Canadians, Russell Martin and Joey Votto, should pass 10,000 putouts for their careers, while Adrian Beltre will likely reach 5000 assists. Beltre is also nearing 300 errors and will likely be the first player active in this century to reach that threshold.
Switching to pitching, Matt Cain and R.A. Dickey should reach 2000 IP this season. If Dickey makes it, he will become, at age 42, the oldest starting pitcher when reaching that threshold (Jeff Fassero also reached 2000 IP at age 42, with about two-thirds of his career games in relief, but almost three-quarters of his innings as a starter).
Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer and Jon Lester should all reach 2000 strikeouts this season (as may James Shields if he can make it back to the majors). Kershaw should join Sam McDowell and Sandy Koufax as the only left-handers to reach that threshold before their age 30 season. Lester should also reach 150 wins this season and, barring a 20 win season, he would become just the 11th pitcher (but fourth in 7 years) to win 150 games without a 20 win season over his first 12 seasons,
Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman should both reach 200 saves this season, as may Mark Melancon. Jansen and Chapman would become the 7th and 8th pitchers to reach that threshold before their age 30 seasons, with Chapman being the first left-hander in that group. They would also be the first pitchers in the group with fewer than 50 saves before their age 25 seasons (both had fewer than 40 saves).
What other milestones are you watching for this season?