4/3/2013 11:16 A.M. ET
Big milestones could be on deck for stars this year
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
Now that Opening Day is out of the way, let's start thinking about what kind of baseball history we might see over the course of the next six months.
While Mariano Rivera is already the all-time saves leader and Derek Jeter continues his march toward Hall of Fame enshrinement with well over 3,000 hits, there are still some serious milestones to look out for.
Here are a few handfuls -- with statistics current before Wednesday's action -- and then some:
1. It's all about A-Rod: If Alex Rodriguez could get himself healthy and back on the field, there are a number of big round numbers he could reach and big names he could pass in the annals of the game. Then again, it's a pretty big if. A-Rod's January hip surgery could keep him out until around the All-Star break, so he might have only a half-season to get some of the necessary work done.
Regardless, here's where he stands: With 2,901 hits, it's possible he could reach the magical 3,000 mark by the end of this season. His 647 career home runs leaves him three shy of the 650 mark, which means he needs 13 homers to tie Willie Mays for fourth place all-time in that category. His next RBI will tie him with the late Stan Musial for sixth place in big league history at 1,951. Forty-five more after that will tie him with Barry Bonds at 1,996 in third place. A-Rod also needs only two runs scored for 1,900 in his career.
2. Cranking up The Machine: Angels slugger Albert Pujols got off to an incredibly slow start last year, but he finished furiously, serving notice that some of the milestones that he could reach in 2013 could be easily attainable if he stays healthy. Pujols needs only 66 RBIs to reach the vaunted 1,500 mark, but he can make a lot of noise in the home run category.
Pujols needs 25 homers for 500. He needs 19 to vault past Lou Gehrig and Fred McGriff into 26th place at 494. If Pujols belts 29 this season, he'll tie Hall of Famer Eddie Murray at 504. Then it's five more to Gary Sheffield at 509, seven more to Mel Ott at 511 and eight more to Ernie Banks and Eddie Mathews at 512 and a tie for 21st place all-time. If Pujols goes absolutely bonkers and hits 46 homers this year (and knowing Pujols, it's not impossible), he'll be at 521 and tied for 18th place in Major League history with Willie McCovey, Frank Thomas and Ted Williams.
3. Don't forget Derek: Jeter is another guy who practically makes history every time he hits, so let's hope for his sake and the sake of baseball in general that the Yankees captain returns soon from his ankle injury suffered in last year's postseason.
Jeter has 3,304 career hits, which means only 11 more will tie him with Eddie Collins for 10th place all-time at 3,315. Four more after that will tie him with Hall of Famer Paul Molitor at 3,319. It's a long way -- 100 more hits -- to the next player, Carl Yastrzemski, at 3,419, but only one more hit after that to seventh place and a tie with Honus Wagner at 3,420, and another 15 to Cap Anson in sixth at 3,435. That's only 131 hits, which is very doable for Jeter, even if he misses a month or two. Fifth place (Tris Speaker, 3,514) might not happen this year, but it'll just be something for Jeter to plan for in 2014.
4. Pettitte power: It's increasingly rare for pitchers in this day and age of specialized bullpen work and pitch counts to get 300 wins, or even 200. But Yankees elder statesman Andy Pettitte needs only five victories to get to the 250 mark, which should garner him serious Hall of Fame consideration -- if he ever retires and then decides to stay retired.
5. The 200 club: And while we're on the same topic, it's very likely that we'll see three pitchers reach 200 career wins in 2013. We'll probably see it very soon with Roy Halladay, who needs only one win to do it. Tim Hudson of the Braves is at 197 career wins and needs only three, and Yankees ace CC Sabathia needs only nine. Barring injury, all three should accomplish this, perhaps before the All-Star break.
6. Grand possibilities: Ryan Howard of the Phillies reached 300 career home runs last year, and this time around he has a chance to reach an RBI total that's not easy to come by: 1,000. Howard is at 921 and needs 79 RBIs to reach that mark. Meanwhile, Michael Young, his new teammate, is a lot closer to that mark. Young needs only 16 RBIs to reach 1,000, and Young needs 23 homers for 200.
7. Juan way: It seems Juan Pierre is always close to reaching one milestone or another in the speed departments, and this year is no different. Pierre, who's back with the Marlins, needs eight triples to reach 100 three-base hits for his career, and he only needs nine stolen bases to reach the 600 mark.
8. Homer happy: There should be plenty of round numbers to hope for with a lot of your favorite veteran players when it comes to the long ball. Torii Hunter, now with the Tigers, should get there first, because he's three dingers away from 300. Adrian Beltre of Texas needs four long balls for 350, a number also being pursued by Aramis Ramirez (he needs eight), injured Mark Teixeira (he needs 12) and Carlos Beltran (he needs 16).
Paul Konerko of the White Sox needs 28 homers to reach 450 for his career, the same number Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano needs to reach 400.
9. Double your pleasure: Colorado Rockies veteran Todd Helton has had a quietly spectacular career, so it's fitting that he has a chance to reach a milestone in a quiet category: doubles. Helton needs 30 two-base hits to reach 600 for his career. David Ortiz of the Red Sox needs to get healthy soon, too. He needs 18 doubles to reach 500.
10. Hit paraders: In a more high-profile Helton category, the longtime first baseman needs 78 hits to reach 2,500 for his career. Miguel Tejada of the Royals needs 138 hits to get to that same number, while a host of players are closing in on 2,000 hits, including Hunter (1,988), Jason GIambi (1,968), Ramirez (1,962), Soriano (1,897), Raul Ibanez (1,883), Ortiz (1,863) and Lance Berkman (1,848).
11. Saving grace: Joe Nathan of the Texas Rangers will likely celebrate a huge milestone for closers when he notches two saves more and gets to 300. Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez is a mere six saves from 300, but he's a free agent and hasn't signed anywhere. J.J. Putz of the D-backs needs 17 saves to reach 200 for his career.