The love of statistics is an integral part of baseball fandom, even when it means watching someone in an enemy uniform overtake the sacred heroes of the past in the record books. Baseball fans can brace themselves for some historic moments for A-Rod and other Yankee legends as well as the franchise players of several other teams.
Approaching Bonds: Nothing fascinates baseball fanatics and casual observers alike as much as the home run, and in 2011 we’ll see milestone numbers reached and legends surpassed on the all-time leaderboard.
With 613 home runs entering the season, the mercurial Alex Rodriguez will most definitely reach and pass Ken Griffey, Jr. for fifth place in career homers. Junior retired midway through the 2010 season and many fans will cringe at seeing his former Seattle teammate surpass him. If A-Rod smacks 47 in 2011, he will tie Willie Mays at 660.
The Twins retained Jim Thome for 2011 after he launched another 25 homers last year. He now needs only 11 home runs to reach 600. With 21, he can knock Sammy Sosa down a peg on the career charts and move into seventh place.
Elsewhere, southside slugger Paul Konerko needs 35 home runs to reach 400 for his career and the Rays’ new DH Manny Ramirez needs 45 to reach 600. The Yanks’ Mark Teixeira can reach 300 home runs with just 25 in 2011, and is also 94 RBI away from 1,000.
Career Hits Milestones: Regardless of how gracefully he’s aging, Derek Jeter will reach 3,000 hits in the 2011 season. The Yankees captain sits at 2,926 entering the year, meaning he will likely reach the hallmark figure some time in June. Also, Jeter will become the Yankees’ franchise leader in stolen bases, with 323 entering the year and approaching Rickey Henderson’s pinstripes best of 326. The great base stealer needed less than 5 full seasons in New York to set that record, but Jeter will beat him with his trademark skills: consistency and longevity.
Braves legend Chipper Jones needs only 10 hits to get to 2,500 for his career after injuries mostly ruined his 2010 effort. Albert Pujols needs just 100 hits to achieve 2,000, and he’ll get there shortly after All-Star break. Cardinals fans will be holding their breath to see if the 31 year-old slugger will stick around to get his next thousand hits in St. Louis. At 1,842 career hits, Juan Pierre will reach 2,000 in a career known mostly for stealing bases. In every season he’s played full time and remained healthy, Pierre has collected more than enough hits to reach this mark.
In Seattle, Ichiro already has reached a level of his own with 10 consecutive seasons of 200 hits or more. Pete Rose hit 200 in 10 seasons as well though, so Ichiro can fully own that record by doing it for his eleventh time. He can also breakn a tie with Rose and Ty Cobb for 8 seasons of leading the league in hits
Career Saves Record: Just after Trevor Hoffman retired, his American League counterpart Mariano Rivera will potentially overtake him for the most saves in a career. Hoffman finished with 601 and Mo enters 2011 with 559 saves. Rivera had 33 in 2010 but saved 44 in 2009 and doesn’t appeared to be slowing down, so this record may depend on the number of opportunities the Yankees give him.
Tim Wakefield eyes another pitching mark: 200 wins, a relative rarity for a knuckleballer. The Red Sox mainstay has 193 wins entering the season, so he’ll need to bounce back from a mediocre 2010 and remain healthy to make sure he gets there this year.