Apr
01

History on the horizon

By

As Yankee fans, we’ve been privy to watching history unfold right before our eyes on a regular basis. Just last season we watched as Mariano Rivera became the second player ever to record 500 career saves while Derek Jeter climbed past Lou Gehrig to record the most hits in Yankee history. It’s just par for the course around these parts.

The 2010 season will be no different, though this year’s historical milestones may not be as sexy as some of the one’s we’ve witnessed in recent years. That doesn’t lessen their significance though, because frankly we’re in store for some really cool stuff. Let’s run it down…

Alex Rodriguez – 600 homers
This is the big one. Only six players in the history of the game have eclipsed the 600 homerun plateau, and the Yankees’ third basemen is just 17 away. As if that isn’t impressive enough, A-Rod will turn just 35-years-old in July, and none of the other players managed to hit their 600th jack before their 36th birthday. Of course, Alex is already the youngest player in history to hit 300, 400, and 500 career homers, so it’s only natural that he’ll be the youngest to hit 600 as well. He should have this one in the bag by June, July the latest.

But that’s not all. Alex is three stolen bases away from the 300 steal mark, which by itself isn’t all that impressive. However, combine the 300 steals with the 600 homers, well then you’re on to something. Only two players in baseball history belong to the 600-300 club, and you may have heard of them: Barry Bonds (762 HR, 514 SB) and Willie Mays (660 HR, 338 SB). Pay attention folks, this guy’s a walking history book.

Jorge Posada – 1,500 hits, 350 doubles, 250 homers
Posada’s coming up on a few big career milestones, especially when it comes to catchers. He’s twelve hits away from 1,500, eight doubles away from 350, and seven homers away from 250. He’s also ten games away from appearing in 1,500 as a catcher. Individually, those four milestones won’t wow anyone, but when put together, you’re talking select company. Just four catchers in history have picked up 1,500 career hits, 350 career doubles, and 250 career homers while playing at least 1,500 games behind the plate, and all four are either in the Hall of Fame or will be shortly. Posada is not only on pace to join them this season, but he also has a higher career on-base percentage (by 37 points (!!!)) than any of them.

Barring injury, the Yanks’ catcher should reach all of these milestones no later than what, June? That sounds about right.

Derek Jeter – 4,000 times on base
Times on base doesn’t quite roll of your tongue as easily as hits or homeruns or anything like that, but they’re just as important, if not more. The stat combines hits, walks, and hit by pitches, and the Yankees’ captain goes into the season having reached base 3,775 times in his career. Jeter reached base 273 times even in his down year of 2008, so reaching base the 275 times needed to reach the milestone this year isn’t as far-fetched as you may think.

Only forty players in the history of baseball have managed to reach base a total of 4,000 times in their career, and 32 of them are already in Cooperstown. The other eight a) will be in the Hall of Fame one day, or b) should be in but are held back by the shackles of PED revelations, gambling exploits, etc. It’s basically the forty greatest hitters who’ve ever lived, simply put. I suspect we won’t hear anything about this milestone if/when Jeter reaches it sometime in September, but you best believe it’s pretty frickin’ amazing.

CC Sabathia – 150 career wins
We all know that wins are a horrible way to evaluate pitchers, but bulk win totals are a sign of longevity when looked at over the course of a career. Sabathia is 14 wins away from the halfway point to 300, a total he’s reached in four of the last five seasons. Just for comparison’s sake, the Yanks’ ace will be 29 years and 258 days old on Opening Day. Roger Clemens had 136 career wins at the same age, and former Yank Randy Johnson (another big lefty) had just 55. 55! We hear plenty of analysts talk about how no one will ever reach the magical 300 win plateau again, but Sabathia has as good of a chance to do it as anyone in the game today. He should have win number 14 in the bag by the end of August.

Robinson Cano – 1,000 hits
It feels like he was just called up yesterday, but Robbie Cano is lazily closing on 1,000 career hits already. He’ll step to the plate Sunday night in Fenway Park just 125 hits away, and he hasn’t recorded fewer than that many hits in a season since 2001, when he was 18-years-old and played just 59 games in rookie ball. Now, 1,000 hits are more than most big leaguers will retire with, but frankly it’s nothing to stop the game and tip your helmet to the crowd about However, for a guy that constantly gets pooped on for being an underachiever and not living up to his potential and all that nonsense, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that Robbie’s 875 career hits have come in 3,036 plate appearances. In Jeter’s first 3,036 plate appearances, he had 824 hits. Wrap your head around that.

There’s plenty more smaller individual milestones that will be reached this season – Cano is 13 homers away from 100, Mark Teixeira is eight away from 250, Chan Ho Park is 77.2 IP away from 2,000, etc. – but of course some will get more attention that others (did anyone bother to point out that A.J. Burnett finished the 2009 season with exactly 100 career wins?). For a franchise so deep in tradition, we can sometimes lose sight of just how impressive some of these accomplishments are. The fellas wearing pinstripes never seem to disappoint when it comes to delivering greatness, and we shouldn’t take it for granted.

Photo Credit: Bill Kostroun, AP

Categories : Players

138 Comments»

  1. Accent Shallow says:

    If Chan Ho Park gets those 77 and 2/3 innings, something will have gone horribly wrong.

    On a positive note, if Jeter can hit .422 or so, he’ll get 3000 hits before the end of the year.

    • If Chan Ho Park gets those 77 and 2/3 innings, something will have gone horribly wrong.

      He threw 83 innings for Philadelphia last year, and I think they did just fine.

      • Accent Shallow says:

        He only got that high because he started some games. I’ll stand by my statement.

        • OK. So explain how him logging 77.2 IP would be a sign of catastrophe, if you don’t mind. He certainly could reach that total coming strictly out of the pen.

          • Accent Shallow says:

            He’s been a mediocre pitcher for a long time. 1.5 seasons of good relief pitching doesn’t change that. I also don’t think his recent success is sustainable — he didn’t give up a home run as a reliever last year, despite having an average-ish ground ball rate. He also doesn’t have particularly impressive swing-and-miss type stuff.

            Additionally, he’s been a starting pitcher for much of his career, and he made starts as recently as last year. I don’t want Girardi to be tempted to give him a spot start over Aceves/Mitre/whoever in the minors.

            I’d feel a lot better if he’s off the roster by July.

            • Jamal G. says:

              He also doesn’t have particularly impressive swing-and-miss type stuff.

              What do you call a reliever that gets batters to swing and miss on pitches outside of the zone 35.4% of time over the 2008 and 2009 seasons, with the MLB average being 27.6%?

              • Accent Shallow says:

                I’d say lots of things can happen in small sample sizes. It’s going to take more than 1.5 good seasons in relief to convince me that Park is anything other than fungible, after such a long period of mediocrity.

                This is the last post in this thread I’m making in re: Park. I apologize for (partially) hijacking an otherwise interesting discussion.

                • Templeton "Brendog" Peck says:

                  all relievers are fungible. any reliever that has 1.5 seasons of success is great AND they could just as easily blow up the following year.

                  relievers are all fluid interchangeable pieces

    • Jamal G. says:

      Alfredo Aceves logged 84 innings in 2009 and started just a single game. As a multi-inning reliever, I don’t see why it would be a sign of something unfortunate that Park amassed so many innings.

    • Jamal G. says:

      In fact, there were forty relief pitchers across baseball in 2009 that pitched a minimum of 70 innings and did not start a single game (Aceves being one of them as he pitched 80.2 innings out of the bullpen).

    • paK_ says:

      What are you talking about?

      Chan Ho Park is more than capable of pitching much MORE than 77 2/3 innings.

      Want to explain a little?

  2. pete says:

    ya know, it’s a loooonnnng way off, and a ton could happen between now and then, but in just over 5 years in the game Cano will have had over 1000 hits and 100 HRs. If he plays at this level into his late 30s or early 40s (obviously not even close to being a given), could he not end up with 3000 hits and 300 HRs? Pretty damn good for a lazy dominican 2B.

    • Hangoverologist says:

      I actually think that Cano has an outside shot at being the all-time home run leader among second baseman (The record is 377) if he hits his prime now and gives us 30 HR up until he is 36-37 (assuming we resign him and all that jazz).

    • Accent Shallow says:

      FWIW, ZiPS has Cano finishing his career with a .291 average a >2500 hits.

      I could certainly see 3000 if he stays healthy.

      • JGS says:

        I’m not sure about that. He is a low-walk, low-K hitter for average that gets away with crazy aggressiveness because he has incredibly quick wrists and can make contact with almost anything. He hasn’t learned plate discipline and at this point it’s doubtful he ever will. He will have a number of excellent years but once the wrist speed that makes his approach work begins to go, he will drop off offensively rather quickly.

        JMTC

        • Accent Shallow says:

          But unlike someone like Soriano, where we may already be seeing what you describe, Robbie has impressive contact skills, so the decline may be longer and slower.

        • Rick in Boston says:

          My biggest fear for Cano is if he ever gets a wrist injury. We know the it really saps the power from a hitter, but someone like Cano who needs to his wrists could really fall apart.

  3. A.D. says:

    Posada, building those counting stat combos that the voters love!

  4. Jamal G. says:

    Don’t forget Alex Rodriguez becoming just the 20th position player (26th overall) to amass 100 career wins above replacement (he currently stands at 99.1) in MLB history.

  5. king of fruitless hypotheticals says:

    speaking of milestones, what would Robbie have to put up this year to win the triple crown?

    (oh, and tommie, don’t make any jokes using or playing on ‘ripple’ or ‘crown’ please!)

  6. paK_ says:

    It really seemed like yesterday, when A-rod hit that 500th hr.
    Time flies.

  7. pete c. says:

    Didn’t Mo get an rbi in that game too?

    • pat says:

      Indeed. First eva. Hard to tell which is more awesome. 500 saves or the fact that a 39 year old closer drew a bases loaded walk against one of the allegedly “elite” closers in baseball.

      • king of fruitless hypotheticals says:

        Mo: You an elite closer. I respect that. Oh…wanna see something more elite?
        Mets Douche: P()#@*$_#@()*$_@#()*_(*_()&^_$(%!!!!!

        • bexarama says:

          heh, I was reading some random Mets fan’s tumblr the other day, and it hadn’t been updated since like very early June, and it was all “YEAH WE LOVE K-ROD!!!!!” Heh heh heh.

    • king of fruitless hypotheticals says:

      run balled in?

  8. It feels like he was just called up yesterday, but Robbie Cano is lazily closing on 1,000 career hits already.

    Repeated for emphasis.

  9. mryankee says:

    Hey Verducci has this column on Jason Heyward and nothing about Jesus Montero.

  10. larryf says:

    This year’s most important milestone # is 28…….

  11. bexarama says:

    This list is pretty amazing. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, we’re all really lucky to have gotten to see these players on the Yankees. Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter are pretty not-bad at baseball.

    Isn’t Pettitte also coming up on 200 wins as a Yankee? And FWIW I did hear a few people talking about AJ’s 100th career win on the last day of the season.

    • Rick in Boston says:

      You are right – Pettitte is at 192 in pinstripes.

      • steve s says:

        The real interesting Pettitte number to watch is if he wins 6 more than he loses which would put him 100 wins more than losses; every pitcher who has achieved that stat and that was eligible for HOF election is in.

  12. mryankee says:

    I like a milestone of 125 wins

  13. mryankee says:

    Yeah but that should be the ultimate goal. If they won like 125-130 games that would make us all happy.

    • Steve H says:

      Winning 9-14 more games than the winningest team in history should be the goal??

      Why not 162-0, that’s a real goal.

      • Thomas says:

        I think (maybe hope/pray) he might mean 125 including the playoffs, since that would tie the record held by the 1998 Yankees.

      • mryankee says:

        There you go-Is that not the entire point of being a professional athlete to win every game? I do not like the idea of throw away games and I do not like the thought if you win 10 in a row you can lose the eleventh game and it is ok.

        • andrew says:

          I’m sorry to hear you don’t like that thought. It’s about the balance. what’s the difference between 160-2 and 110 – 52 if you burn out your starting rotation in September going for 162-0 and then falter in the playoffs because of exhaustion. I rather win 100 and the world series than run the risk of burning out the team going for unnecessary wins. If 162-0 were a realistic possible, i could understand going for it. However, it is not realistic. The marginal gains from an extra win or two (98 or 100), is probably not worth the risk of playing Posada 6 games a week every week.

    • Rick in Boston says:

      The ultimate goal is a World Series championship. If it means punting a game or two down the stretch to get guys rested for the run instead of a regular season wins record then so be it.

      • Steve H says:

        Yeah, and in the division with 2 of the other 3 best teams in baseball, there is zero chance that the Yankees have to make that decision.

        • radnom says:

          They had the division wrapped up in time to rest guys last year. Don’t be so sure it will come down to the last weekend.

          • Steve H says:

            I’m not saying it won’t be wrapped up. I am saying they won’t head into the final week with 120 wins and keep pushing to win games and extended their brand new record.

        • bexarama says:

          Eh, I’m not trying to get into a squabble here, but I thought that the AL East would have the three best teams in baseball, period, going into last year, and it didn’t happen. The Yankees were in a pretty good position at the end of the year to rest guys up. I wouldn’t say they “punted” games but they had a comfortable enough lead to give guys rest.

        • king of fruitless hypotheticals says:

          didnt we do that last year? i seem to remember running out all sorts of second stringers the last month.

          dont want to trust my eyes tho…

          • Rick in Boston says:

            I think they did once the division AND home field had been wrapped up.

            • bexarama says:

              Nope. I remember some of those games in Anaheim after we’d won a spot in the playoffs only they were running out a lineup like they were TRYING to lose.

              • All Praise Be To Mo says:

                Yea, I rememebr that game, was there right behind the Yanks dugout. Almost got tossed by security for yelling at Girardi for bringing IPK in with the bases loaded instead of Hughes or Rivera.

      • mryankee says:

        There are no throw away games you get to paid to play and unless someone is in serious need of a day off professional athletes should be able to play every day.

        • andrew says:

          Why? Nowhere in their contract does it say they are being paid to play 162 games. They are being paid to be a part of the organization and help out as the manager sees fit. Yes, they should be able to play everyday, but most people have realized that playing people everyday is not the most effective use of resources.

        • king of fruitless hypotheticals says:

          they CAN play every day, but just because you can doesnt mean you should.

    • bexarama says:

      If they won like 125-130 games that would make us all happy.

      I’ll correct that for you. Some people would be miserable because they’d have nothing to complain about.

  14. Rick in Boston says:

    Jeter’s going to probably own the following Yankee records when he retires:

    Plate Appearances (101 short of Mantle)
    Runs Scored (385 short of Ruth)
    Doubles (96 short or Gehrig)
    Strikeouts (244 short of Mantle)
    Steals (21 short of Henderson; and is 37 short of the CS record held jointly by Ruth and Roy White)
    DP’s grounded into (10 short of Bernie)

  15. CS Yankee says:

    The CC getting to 150 is interesting to me because we were to believe that Moose had the last chance to get there but choose retirement opposed to two more seasons.

    150 before 30 (or around) doesn’t seem to be on pace for 300 because they would need to average 15 wins per until the age of 40 (highly unlikely)

    The 5th starter and limiting studs to 32-34 starts per year was to cost anyone from getting to 300. So, if he misses out on 50 starts in this era (from 30-40 yrs), its still quite possible to get to 300 despite those less starts. What they don’t note is that quality can equate to a higher quanity (less starts but better product).

    CC is 80+ ahead of The Big Unit & 20+ ahead of Rocket…amazing that Johnson only had 55 at 30…..WOW!

  16. Alex is already the youngest player in history to hit 300, 400, and 500 career homers, so it’s only natural that he’ll be the youngest to hit 600 as well.

    My conclusion?

    Alex Rodriguez murdered baseballmurders baseballs.

  17. C Montgomery says:

    There is one major flaw in the Jorge Posada 1,500 games, 1,500 hits, 350 2B and 350 HR.

    MIKE PIAZZA had 344 2B in his career, 6 short of the requirement. However, his home run total (427) and OPS (.922) are so far ahead of the others, he is in a class by himself.

    Leaving him out of such an equation because he is 6(!) short of 350 is ludicrous.

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