I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I wasn't yet very excited about the impending start of the baseball season. A couple of days ago, though, I read an article that mentioned Mariano Rivera's 379 career saves, and decided to have a look at the career statistics of all this year's Yankees to see what milestones were likely to be reached this season (all barring injuries, of course). Here are a few to watch for:
Randy Johnson, 4500 strikeouts; Mike Mussina, 2500 strikeouts. Obviously the former is far more significant than the latter. Johnson, who has 4372 Ks heading into the season, will become only the third player to reach the 4500 mark, sometime in mid-season if he stays healthy. He'll also pass Roger Clemens for second on the all-time list (behind Nolan Ryan, of course), if Clemens decides to retire, and perhaps even if Clemens decides to sit out until May as he has been hinting. Mussina's 2500 (he's at 2400 now) will vault him well into the top 30 all time, and he might even reach the top 25 before the season is out.
Jason Giambi, 1000 walks; 1000 runs scored. One thing Giambi does reliably even when he's not hitting is get on base, get on base, get on base. With 979 walks heading into the season, he'll reach 1000 in May. The other milestone, 1000 runs scored, is less of a guarantee, and depends strongly upon whether he plays well enough to stay in the lineup, as he did in the second half of last season. He needs 75 runs to get there - he scored 76 last season.
Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, 2000 hits. This double-milestone is going to generate even more hype than Mariano's 400th save. With Jeter at 1936 hits and A-Rod at 1901, you can expect both players to have hit the milestone by mid-July, and to be among the youngest players ever to do so. There's a tiny, tiny chance of a miraculous triple milestone - new Yankee Johnny Damon needs 221 hits to reach 2000. The trouble is he's only collected over 200 once in his career, in Kansas City in '00 when he got 214 hits. So he'd need a monster of a career year to reach the milestone on '06 - my money would not be on Damon getting there.
Johnny Damon, 300 stolen bases. He should reach this milestone, though. He's at 281 now, and hitting leadoff with the famously patient Yankee hitters behind him he should be able to get to 300. He only collected 18 and 19 in each of his last two seasons with the Red Sox, though. It remains to be seen whether that was a result of managing style, or Damon losing his legs.
Gary Sheffield, 1500 runs scored, 2500 hits, 1500 RBIs. Going into the season Sheff stands at 1411 R, 2345 H, and 1476 RBI, so he should reach each of these milestones handily, though if he misses any playing time he might have trouble collecting
165 155 hits. [Oops! thanks rbj. Arithmetic...] If he makes them all, he'll land in or near the top 60 all time in runs scored, the top 80 all time in hits, and the top 40 all time in RBI. Throw in the top 25 all time in homers (where, at 449, he's not going to reach a milestone this year), and that's not a bad career.