Milestone men: 10 players who will chase big numbers in 2015
Baseball fans love their milestones -- even if they don't always like the players chasing them (ahem, A-Rod). Click onward for the 10 players tracking down the biggest ones during the 2015 season.
Adrian Beltre, 3B, Rangers
Only 51 players have hit 400 career home runs, and Beltre is almost certain to become No. 52. He starts the season with 395 and needs only 18 to bump Alfonso Soriano (412) from the No. 50 spot. Given that he’s topped that number in five straight seasons – averaging 29 in that span – the 35-year-old could have a chance to stick around long enough to see 500.
Mark Buehrle, P, Blue Jays
How do you get one win away from 200 victories? Winning at least 10 games in 14 straight seasons, as Buehrle has, is a great way to start. Barring a miracle, the 36-year-old left-hander will never make it to the hallowed 300 mark, but after he hits 200 he does have a great chance to gain some ground on the three active pitchers ahead of him: Bartolo Colon (204), CC Sabathia (208) and Tim Hudson (214).
Getty ImagesStacy Revere
Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Tigers
Only eight players have hit 600 career home runs, and Cabrera, only 31, might be the active player other than Albert Pujols (520 at age 35) with the best chance to get there given that he already stands at 390. But he can’t get to 600 without getting to 400 and 500 first, and 400 is all but a sure bet this season. One thing to keep an eye on: Cabrera, slowed by nagging injuries, hit just 25 home runs last season, his lowest mark since 2006 and 19 fewer than he hit in each of the previous two years. He’ll have to prove that isn’t a trend to stay on his pace of 35.4 per year in his 11 full seasons.
Getty ImagesMark Cunningham
Clayton Kershaw, P, Dodgers
Is reaching 300 career wins even possible anymore? Probably not, but if there’s one young pitcher who might have a chance it’s Kershaw, who is two wins away from 100 at age 27 and has been the game’s most dominant pitcher for a few years running. Now he just needs to average 14.4 wins for another 14 years and he’ll be right there with the 24 other pitchers who may never see another member join their exclusive club.
Joe Nathan, P, Tigers
Only five pitchers in major-league history – Mariano Rivera (652), Trevor Hoffman (601), Lee Smith (478), John Franco (424) and Billy Wagner (422) -- have 400 saves, and Nathan can become the sixth with 24 this season. The 40-year-old racked up 35 last season but also blew a career-high seven while his ERA ballooned from 1.39 in 2013 to 4.81 in 2014. He’ll need to keep the closer role with Detroit to have a chance to pass Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley (390) and make it to 400 in 2015.
Getty ImagesMark Cunningham
David Ortiz, DH, Red Sox
The 500-home run club is 34 round-trippers away. That might seem like a long shot for a 39-year-old, but Ortiz has showed no signs of a decline in power. In fact, his 35 homers in 2014 were his most since he hit the same number way back in 2007. If he makes it to 500, he’ll rank 27th all time, just ahead of Lou Gehrig (493).
Getty ImagesStacy Revere
Albert Pujols, 1B, Angels
Pujols isn’t on the cusp of any ballyhooed milestones as he enters his 15th season, but he can pass a lot of Hall of Fame names on the all-time lists in several major offensive categories. His 520 home runs rank 21st, and he can pass Ted Williams (521), Frank Thomas (521), Willie McCovey (521), Jimmie Foxx (534) and Mickey Mantle (536) and tie Mike Schmidt (548) if he can match the 28 he blasted last season. He also needs only 39 doubles – he had 37 last season – to become only the 15th player to reach 600. All but two of the top 14 players on the doubles list – Pete Rose and Barry Bonds – are in the Hall of Fame.
Getty ImagesNorm Hall
Alex Rodriguez, DH, Yankees
A half-decade ago, Rodriguez seemed in position to be chasing records – not milestones -- for things like career home runs and RBI, but injuries and his dalliance with steroids and subsequent year-long suspension ensured he’ll have to settle for milestones that carry an invisible but unforgettable asterisk. Nevertheless, a few impressive markers are within his reach this season: 3,000 hits (61 away), 2,000 runs scored (81 away) and 2,000 RBI (31 away). A-Rod is also seven home runs away from overtaking Willie Mays for No. 4 on the all-time list with 661 and 28 RBI from passing Lou Gehrig (1,995) and Barry Bonds (1,996) to move into third with 1,997. And then there’s the need for only five more runs scored to take the No. 10 spot on the career list from former teammate Derek Jeter, who has 1,923. Who says cheaters never prosper?
Getty ImagesBrian Blanco
CC Sabathia, P, Yankees
Sabathia needs only 63 strikeouts to become the 31st pitcher in baseball history to reach 2,500. At age 34, getting to 3,000 or more shouldn’t be out of the question, but Sabathia went from durable to unreliable in a hurry last season after 14 straight years of pitching at least 180 innings. A knee injury ended his season after only eight mostly rocky starts, and he’s been shaky so far this spring. After striking out just 48 last season, getting to 2,500 this year is no given if he doesn’t stay healthy.
Getty ImagesJoel Auerbach
Ichiro Suzuki, OF, Marlins
Suzuki needs 156 hits to become the 28th player to reach 3,000, but Miami signed him to be a fourth outfielder, and it’s unlikely the 41-year-old will get close without an injury to a player in front of him. Suzuki churned out more than 200 hits in each of his first 10 major-league seasons before steadily declining to 184 in 2011, 178 in 2012, 136 in 2013 and 102 last season. He can still hit, but he’ll likely need to stick around until 2016 to make it to 3,000. More realistic this season? 500 career stolen bases, which he is 13 away from teaching after racking up 15 in 2014.