Five NL Central players chasing lofty milestones

August 15th, 2019

With a little more than six weeks remaining in the regular season, the spotlight is heavy on postseason races, several of which likely won’t be decided until the final days of September. But there are several individual “races” worth paying attention to down the stretch as well.

Players are closing in on individual milestones and, in some cases, never-seen-before feats. Let’s highlight five of those in this week’s National League Central notebook.


Feat to watch: 50-30 season for

Having already become the first player in Major League history to hit 30 homers and steal 15 bases in the first half, Yelich now has a shot at becoming the only player to finish with a 50-30 season. Currently, Yelich has amassed 39 homers and 23 steals, putting him on pace for 52 and 30, respectively. If Yelich is to have a shot at 50-30, his back must cooperate. He recently missed five straight starts due to back stiffness, which is something he has dealt with on and off in recent years.

As Yelich approaches that 50-30 mark, he can also achieve a handful of other notable milestones. With his next home run, he’ll become the first player since (2012) to post a 40-20 season. As for the 40-30 club, it only has nine members (Barry Bonds and Jeff Bagwell achieved it twice).


Feat to watch: 163 career wins for

Wainwright hasn’t offered any telling hints about whether he plans to pitch beyond this season, so it’s prudent to keep an eye on franchise marks that he’s approaching in case this is it for him. Wainwright moved into fourth place on the Cardinals’ all-time wins list in June, surpassing Bill Sherdel, who pitched for the Cards from 1918-32.

That puts Wainwright within reach of Bob Forsch, whose 163 victories rank third in franchise history. Wainwright, whose next start is scheduled for Friday, sits seven wins shy of that mark. It seems like a long shot that Wainwright catches Forsch, given that he has only eight wins through his first 22 starts. But with nine starts likely remaining for the veteran right-hander, Wainwright does have a chance.


Feat to watch: 60 doubles by

Only six players in MLB history have reached the elusive 60 Doubles Club, and none have crossed that threshold since 1936. Earl Webb boasts the single-season mark with 67 in 1931. The others on that short list include George Burns (64 in '26), Joe Medwick (64 in '26), Hank Greenberg (63 in '34), Paul Waner (62 in '32) and Charlie Gehringer (60 in '36). In the past 20 years, Todd Helton came the closest with 59 in 2000.

Can Castellanos climb to historic heights for doubles in a single campaign? He had 37 with the Tigers before being dealt to the Cubs at the July 31 Trade Deadline. He kept rolling with six more in his first seven games with the North Siders. Pace-wise, the outfielder figures to be headed for somewhere between 58-63 doubles, if he doesn't slow down.


Feat to watch: Batting title for

All-Star first baseman Josh Bell entered Wednesday night with 98 RBIs, giving him a chance to become the first Pirates player to lead MLB in RBIs since Willie Stargell in 1973. Bell also could complete the Bucs’ first 40-homer campaign since Stargell. But Reynolds has a chance to do something no rookie has ever done: Win the NL batting title.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only two rookies since 1900 have won their league’s batting title, and both -- Tony Oliva in 1964 and Ichiro Suzuki in 2001 -- did it in the American League. Entering Wednesday, Reynolds, with a .338 average, sat .005 points ahead of Yelich in that race. Maybe such an accomplishment would even vault Reynolds into the national conversation for the NL Rookie of the Year Award alongside Fernando Tatis Jr., Pete Alonso and Mike Soroka.


Feat to watch: 40 homers for

The Reds third baseman entered Wednesday with 33 home runs, one shy of the career high he set in 2018. That puts Suarez on pace to become the first Reds hitter since Adam Dunn to reach the 40-homer mark. Suarez’s power has picked up recently, too, as he’s gone deep 13 times in his first 28 games of the second half.

Dunn hit 40-plus homers for the Reds each year from 2004-08, with his career-high 46 coming in ’04. (Though Dunn hit 40 in ’08, eight of those came with Arizona). The team record for single-season homers is held by George Foster, who hit 52 during his 1977 NL MVP Award season.