Opening Day is finally here and with it…the promise of a number of milestones being reached.
Sure, many of the familiar faces are on the list (Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols), but c’mon, let’s face it, no one really cares that Mark Ellis is one home run away from the century mark.
So, with that…here are ten, correction, eleven milestones to watch for in 2013.
With 612 career home runs, free agent slugger Jim Thome is going to continue to move up the all-time home run list with every mighty swing of the bat. Almost more impressive is what he’s on the cusp of doing with every swing…and miss. The veteran enters 2013 second all-time in strikeouts with 2548. Should he get a contract (and some increased playing time), Thome has an outside chance to pass Reggie Jackson on the all-time list. He would need 50 Ks.
Quietly, Albert Pujols is knocking on the door of 500 home runs, and if the past twelve years have taught us anything…the milestone is a lock. The Los Angeles Angels slugger enters 2013 tied with Stan Musial (I’ll leave the comments to @BestFansStLouis) with 475 home runs and should have no problem reaching 500 bombs. And in case you were wondering…the earliest the aging All-Star has reached homer number 25 in a season was May 29, 2006. The latest? August 16, 2008. I’m going to split the difference and suggest that Pujols gets to number 500 sometime around July 22 when the Minnesota Twins visit Anaheim.
Sure, Mariano Rivera is tops all-time with 608 saves, but as it stands, there are 22 other relievers with 300 saves or more. Pretty soon, we might be adding three more. The only certainty is Texas Rangers closer Joe Nathan, who enters the season with 298. Others knocking on the door…Francisco Rodriguez (294 saves) and Jose Valverde (277), but both are free agents.
It’s been a few seasons since Randy Johnson collected his 300th victory and it’s going to be a while until another pitcher reaches the milestone. Matter of fact, only Andy Pettitte, with 245 wins, has more than 200! So who is next on the active list? The trio of Roy Halladay (199 wins), Tim Hudson (197) and CC Sabathia (191). Not too shabby.
New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter is going to start the season on the Disabled List, but still…it’s worth mentioning that he’s eleventh all-time in hits with 3304. Should he duplicate last season’s output (he won’t) of 216 hits, Jeter will end the season fifth all-time, trailing just Pete Rose, Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron and Stan Musial. As it is, the shortstop is a mere 132 hits from surpassing Cap Anson (3435 hits) and finishing 2013 sixth all-time.
If the Houston Astros are as bad as everyone is predicting, their futility might end up being legendary. Should the 'stros lose 106 games (again), they'll join the 1962-65 New York Mets as the only teams with 106 or more losses in three consecutive seasons. Houston lost 106 games in 2011 and a franchise-worst 107 last year.
When it comes to all-time great power hitters, Frank Thomas is on the list, right? But did you know that fellow first baseman Paul Konerko is within striking distance of becoming the Chicago White Sox all-time home run champ? Konerko enters the season with 415 bombs…a mere 34 behind “The Big Hurt”.
Even though he’s been slowing down of late, Colorado Rockies first baseman Todd Helton still, at times, has the potential of being a hitting machine. With 570 doubles, I don’t need to do the math for you to tell you that he’s 30 from 600…but why is that important? Should Helton get 32 doubles, he’ll surpass Barry Bonds and move into 14th place all-time. A sidenote, the only three big leaguers with more than 600 doubles and not a plaque in Cooperstown? Pete Rose (746 doubles), Craig Biggio (668) and Bonds (601).
This might be the only time New York Yankees fans won’t mind hearing CC Sabathia mentioned in the same sentence with Tommy John. The big lefty is just 31 strikeouts away from surpassing the inaugural member of The Hall of Very Good™ for 50th place on the all-time list.
While the 2013 season is in jeopardy for Alex Rodriguez, there are a number of milestones on the horizon for Number 13. In random order…dude enters the season with 647 home runs, just 14 short of surpassing Willie Mays (660 home runs) to move into fourth place on the all-time list. Right now, Rodriguez is sitting at 1950 RBI, 47 away from moving into fourth all-time…behind just Hank Aaron (2297 RBI), Babe Ruth (2220) and Cap Anson (2075). Lastly, with 2901 hits, Rodriguez is 99 hits away from becoming just the 29th member of the 3000-hit club.
For the first time since 1996, the BBWAA chose not to elect any new members into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Additionally, it will also be the first time since 1960 that the induction ceremony will include no new, living honorees. In the place of Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell…umpire Hank O’Day, former team owner Jacob Ruppert and Deacon White. I’ve gotta think turnout in Cooperstown that weekend will be low.