Sure, sure…the Washington-Cincinnati game has already been postponed, but it’s the thought that counts, right?
Anyway, with a new season comes a lot of new questions. Questions like…how many home runs will Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge hit? Will Ichiro find the Fountain of Youth in Seattle? And, naturally, will somebody ever buy Don Mattingly’s car?
Out of that uncertainty blooms a myriad of things that might (and might not) happen, so with that…here are eight milestones to watch for in 2018.
A season ago, Albert Pujols was on everyone’s watchlist as he was approaching 600 career home runs. This season, with 2968 hits, it’s all about dude’s quest to become just the fourth player (Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Alex Rodriguez are the other three) with 600 home runs and 3000 hits. But, sadly, we might be waiting a while. It almost took Pujols until Mother’s Day to get his 32nd base knock last season. By comparison, in 2008, Pujols’ second MVP season, he had more than 32 hits by the last week in April.
After Pujols gets to 3000 hits, he can focus on joining Aaron and Rodriguez as the only players with 3000 hits, 600 home runs and 2000 RBI. The Los Angeles Angels slugger enters 2018 82 shy of the milestone.
Fun fact. Did you know that Albert Pujols has grounded into more double plays (362) that anyone else? It’s true.
Granted, when Giancarlo Stanton hits career home run number 300 (he’s sitting at 267), he’ll still be well behind Albert Pujols. Oh, and get this…the new New York Yankees bomber just turned 28. In case you were wondering, Alex Rodriguez is the youngest ever to hit 300 home runs. He was 27 years and 249 days old. Futhermore, when Stanton reaches 300, he’ll be just the 15th Major Leaguer to do so before turning 30.
It’s been nearly a decade since a pitcher last won 300 games. Two pitchers enter 2018 on the cusp on winning 250. And while not out of the realm of possibility, it’ll likely take a minor miracle for them both to get there. Bartolo Colon enters 21st big league season 10 wins shy. CC Sabathia is right behind him with 237.
Even though Trevor Hoffman is entering the Hall of Fame this summer, closers traditionally have a hard time finding their way to Cooperstown. That said, you might want to start working on Craig Kimbrel’s plaque. The Boston Red Sox fireballer enters 2018 nine saves away from the 300 mark. While 300 saves is an accomplishment (only 28 other closers have reached the milestone), should Kimbrel get his before May 28…he’ll be the only closer to have hit the plateau before turning 30. Last season, he got his ninth save on May 2.
The next time Chase Utley gets hit with a pitch, it’ll be the 200th time he would’ve been plunked. Granted, he’s nowhere near matching Hughie Jennings (287) and Craig Biggio (285) on the all-time list, but given he’s been hit 78 more times than the next guy on the active list (Shin-Soo Choo), 200 is nothing to take lightly.
Edwin Jackson will start 2018 with the Washington Nationals, Why is this important? The Nationals are the 12th franchise the pitcher has played for since his big league debut in 2003. When Jackson ends up playing for another team on or around the July 31 trade deadline, he’ll match Octavio Dotel’s record by suiting up for 13 Major League teams.
While the collective eye of the baseball world will be on two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani, some will be waiting for Chris Gimenez’s eventual call up by the Chicago Cubs. Should the catcher make his way back to the bigs (likely, considering he was Yu Darvish’s personal catcher in Texas), it’ll only be a matter of time before he takes to the mound. And when he does, it’ll be his tenth time to toe the rubber…the most of any non-pitcher in baseball.
500 HOME RUNS
It wouldn’t be an annual milestone post without mentioning Adrian Beltre and Miguel Cabrera, right? So…here goes. Both sluggers are 38 home runs away from adding 500 home runs to their already robust Hall of Fame resumes. And while both men reaching the milestone probably won’t happen (injuries kept both of them to far less than 38 home runs in 2017), it could happen.