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Possible MLB milestones for 2022

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Possible MLB milestones for 2022 (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.

All that said, we have a handful of players who are looking at potentially reaching some significant statistical thresholds during the 2022 season.

Let’s have a look at some of the big ones looming this year.

Miguel Cabrera

Cabrera has already had a storied baseball career. He is an absolute lock for the Hall of Fame just as soon as he is eligible. He has accumulated an impressive resume, one that already sports a handful of milestone numbers. He crossed the 500 home run line last season. He has two MVPs and a Triple Crown and any number of impressive accomplishments.

And there’s more to come.

Assuming he doesn’t suffer a catastrophic injury, Cabrera will become the 33rd player in MLB history to reach 3,000 hits – he’s just 13 hits short – sometime early in the season. That’s the big one – he already crossed 500 homers – but he’s got a few other big numbers to hit.

He needs just three doubles to reach 600 for his career. He’s over 1,800 RBI for his career – currently 1,804 for 22nd place all time – but he’s only 35 away from tying Ted Williams for 15th on the list. He also has the chance to climb the all-time leaderboards in categories like runs and home runs.

Cabrera’s prime is long behind him, but the size of his contract – as well as the general mediocrity of the Tigers – means that he’ll likely get the at-bats to at least have a shot to ascend these lists.

Albert Pujols

There was some thought that Pujols was done, but the rumblings of the Cardinals signing him for a last hurrah in the town that made him a star means that we have to address certain possibilities.

The odds are slim that he’ll get enough quality at-bats to reach some of these levels, but we have to recognize that it could happen. He’s 18 homers away from overtaking A-Rod for fourth on the all-time list, and 21 gets him to 700 for his career. With 65 RBI, he passes Babe Ruth and lands in second place all time, and with 19 hits, he makes the all-time top-10 in that category.

All of this is impressive, but the reality is that Pujols will be an extremely part-time player in 2022. It’s possible that he has some sort of resurgence and pulls some of these numbers, but it seems fairly unlikely. Still, when you’re talking about an all-timer like Pujols, literally every at-bat is a step toward further cementing an already iconic career.

Pitching milestones

The nature of pitching numbers has changed drastically in the past decade or so. The shift in how pitchers are used means that many of the seemingly set-in-stone milestones have been altered; we’re going to have to change how we view pitching careers going forward simply because the way pitchers are used has become so different.

For instance, it’s pretty easy to argue that 200 wins is the new 300. With ever-increasing bullpen usage and pitchers getting the hook earlier and earlier, the thresholds for greatness must change. So who do we have on the cusp of 200 wins?

We’ve got three pitchers with a shot in 2022. Max Scherzer (190), Clayton Kershaw (185) and Adam Wainwright (184) all could get to 200 wins this season. Scherzer seems like a lock, assuming he stays healthy; Kershaw and Wainwright will have to push the edge of their season potential to hit the mark this year. Again – 200 is the new 300.

Other than that, we’ve got Craig Kimbrel with an outside shot at 400 saves. He’s at 372, but he’s currently slotted as a setup man. If he gets back into the closer role, he could easily find his way to 400 saves and become the seventh ever to hit that mark. If not, it’s going to be a little bit of a wait.

Last modified on Wednesday, 30 March 2022 08:25

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