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Possible MLB milestones coming in 2019

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Possible MLB milestones coming in 2019 (AP file photo)

Baseball is a game that has always held its own history in high regard. And one of the best ways to keep track of that history has been through statistical milestones, numbers that have come to act as a sort of distillation of greatness. Round numbers that represent on-field brilliance in an easy-to-understand way.

Granted, changes in the game are in turn changing these milestones. The way the game is played and the meaning of the numbers being tallied isn’t what it once was; the sabermetric revolution has altered how we look at these statistics. Still, there’s something undeniably special about those iconic career marks. While their relevance may fade someday, we’re not there yet.

Here are a few milestones that might be reached in 2018:

2,000 RBI/650 homers – Albert Pujols

Pujols might be a shadow of his former formidable self these days, but he’s still here and still knocking off huge statistical milestones. He collected his 3,000th hit last year and his 600th home run the season before. But neither of those achievements is as rare as these. Pujols is just 18 RBI shy of 2,000 for his career. Only four players – Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Alex Rodriguez and Cap Anson – have crossed that threshold. And with 27 home runs, he will become just the sixth player to reach 650. Two more checked boxes in Pujols’ already locked case for Cooperstown’s inner circle.

3,000 strikeouts – CC Sabathia and Justin Verlander

In this strikeout-heavy era, it’s easy to forget that it’s still hard to strike batters out. Sabathia and Verlander have a chance to join one of baseball’s more exclusive clubs as the 17th and 18th pitchers to strike out 3,000 batters. Assuming nothing disastrous happens, Sabathia is a lock – he’s just 14 away. It’ll be a lot tougher for Verlander – he’s a whopping 294 away. That said, he did K 290 just last season, so it’s not as imposing a task as it might initially seem. Every player who has crossed that line is in the Hall of Fame, save Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling, whose exclusion has little to do with their play on the field.

500 home runs – Miguel Cabrera

Miguel Cabrera has been one of the best hitters in baseball for over a decade. As such, he’s accumulated an impressive statistical resume. And he’ll be appearing on this list for various milestones as he finishes out his career. The likely next hurdle – albeit a relatively distant one – is 500 home runs. Cabrera sits at 465, leaving him with 35 to go. It’s a big ask – he’s had some injury issues and hasn’t put forth quite the same power profile. Still, he could get there this year, though if not, he’ll almost certainly manage in 2020, when he’ll be looking at even more round numbers.

250 wins – Sabathia

This is the other milestone that Sabathia is almost certain to hit in 2019. He needs just four victories to become a top-50 winner in MLB history. While this number isn’t as impressive on the surface, the reality is that the importance of the win as a counting stat is steadily diminishing. Pitcher wins don’t matter like they used to. And with the change in how pitching operates, Sabathia might be one of the last to collect even this many wins; the next closest active pitcher is Justin Verlander with 204. It’s another notch in a sneaky-strong Hall of Fame argument.


Those are the big ones, but there are plenty of other milestones looming that are impressive in their own right. Robinson Cano will cruise past the 2,500-hit plateau on his way to what will almost certainly be over 3,000 career hits. Zack Greinke needs 13 wins to reach 200 and 65 strikeouts for 2,500. Felix Hernandez, Max Scherzer and Cole Hamels will all likely get to 2,500 Ks; a healthy season from Clayton Kershaw puts him there as well (he’s 225 short). Assuming someone eventually signs Craig Kimbrel, he’s 17 away from 350 saves. And we all should pray that Bartolo Colon finds a job soon and can get the three wins he needs for 250.

That’s the great thing about baseball history – they’re always making more.


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