SAVED FROM SHAQTIN’ By Arthur George-Special to BASN JaVale McGee is reclaiming...
Here Comes Opening Day
Pudge Rodriguez, Carlos Lee and David Ortiz joined the 300-homer club, Jason Giambi and Vladimir Guerrero hit their 400th, and Jamie Moyer notched career victory No. 250.
Derek Jeter set the all-time Yankees hits record, Seattle outfielder Ichiro Suzuki tallied 200 hits for a record ninth straight season, and to cap it off, Randy Johnson won his 300th career game.
Many other historic numbers were reached last year, and all were impressive and memorable, but they were so 2009.
The 2010 season promises to bring about many more milestones as records continue to fall and history is made during the next six months.
Here are 10 possible milestones to look forward to this year:
1. A-Rod and the 600 club: Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez isn’t coming back from offseason hip surgery, he isn’t being deluged with questions about performance-enhancing drugs, and he finally won a World Series ring. In other words, he’s ready to rake, and he only needs 17 home runs to reach the magical 600 mark that only six others (Barry Bonds, Henry Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Sammy Sosa and Ken Griffey Jr.) have achieved. He won’t turn 35 until August, which means he’s a good bet to eventually topple Bonds’ all-time mark of 762.
2. Hoffy and his 600 club: Milwaukee’s Trevor Hoffman is the all-time leader in saves with 591, which means that he’ll cruise to No. 600 pretty early in the season if he stays healthy. He’s one of only two closers with more than 500 saves — Mariano Rivera being the other with 526 — and he is well on his way to future Cooperstown enshrinement.
3. The Machine goes for 400: Believe it or not, St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols doesn’t have 400 career home runs. That will most likely change in 2010, since he enters the year with 366 and has hit the needed amount of 34 homers every year in his career except for 2007. If Pujols manages to do it this year, he’ll have hit 400 before his 31st birthday. Only A-Rod, Junior, Mickey Mantle and Jimmie Foxx have done that.
4. Bobby’s last stand: Tony La Russa won his 2,500th game as a manager last year, and now Braves manager Bobby Cox will have his chance at that number in what he has stated will be his final season as a big league skipper. If Cox can win 87 games, he’ll join all-time leader Connie Mack, plus Hall of Famer John McGraw and La Russa as the only managers to reach this rare total.
5. Frankie closing in on history: Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez, who already owns the single-season saves record with 62, accomplished as an Angel in 2008, needs only seven more to reach career save No. 250. Considering he’s 28 years old, he will become the youngest closer to ever get halfway to 500.
6. The other home run king? Moyer, who just made the Phillies’ five-man rotation, is 47 years old and has 258 wins, which gives him a (very) remote shot at 300. What he does have a huge chance at achieving this year, however, is the all-time record for home runs allowed by a pitcher. If Moyer serves up 15 more long balls, he’ll pass Hall of Famer Robin Roberts, who gave up 505 homers, for the all-time lead.
7. Ten grand for Omar: With every game he plays, Omar Vizquel builds a strong case for Cooperstown. He probably won’t get to 3,000 hits — he has 2,704 entering this season and will be in a backup role with the White Sox — but he does have a good chance to get the 78 at-bats he needs for 10,000. Only 24 other players have reached that lofty total.
8. Ichiro goes for 10 in ’10: The Mariners’ main man didn’t show any signs of slowing down in 2009, hitting .352, his best average since 2004, and rapping out another 225 hits to give him 2,030 in his Major League career. Ichiro can make it a clean decade of 200-hit seasons in 2010, and remember: a player must have 10 seasons in the Majors to qualify for the Hall of Fame.
9. Knuckling down for 200: Tim Wakefield has 189 career victories, a pretty impressive feat considering that he didn’t notch his 100th win until he was 35 years old. Can he get 11 this year? Well, he did it last year in 21 starts. Then again, it might be tough with the Boston rotation stacked with talent and Clay Buchholz knocking on the door.
10. Thievery pays off: Juan Pierre figures to get a lot of at-bats as the starting left fielder and leadoff man for the White Sox, which means he’s got a great chance to steal the 41 bases he needs to become the 37th player to reach the 500 club. After all, over the past two seasons, he’s averaged more than 35 bags a year while also averaging only a hair more than 375 at-bats.