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10 amazing facts from Red Sox's historic start

MLB.com

Can anyone stop the Red Sox?

Boston kept rolling Thursday night, beating the Angels by an 8-2 score to win its seventh game in a row and complete a three-game sweep over the team with the next-best record in the American League. The Red Sox are now 16-2, extending the best start in franchise history.

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Can anyone stop the Red Sox?

Boston kept rolling Thursday night, beating the Angels by an 8-2 score to win its seventh game in a row and complete a three-game sweep over the team with the next-best record in the American League. The Red Sox are now 16-2, extending the best start in franchise history.

View Full Game Coverage

As the team's incredible run continues, MLB.com takes a look at 10 of the most impressive facts and figures about Boston this season.

1. The 2018 Red Sox are just the fifth team in the live-ball era, which began in 1920, to win at least 16 of their first 18 games. And they're the first team in over 30 years to do so. The other four teams:

• 1987 Brewers: 17-1
• 1984 Tigers: 16-2
• 1981 A's: 17-1
• 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers: 16-2

Two of those four teams -- the 1984 Tigers (who would win an incredible 35 of their first 40 games that year) and the 1955 Dodgers -- went on to win the World Series.

2. Even if you expand the time period to baseball's entire modern era -- that is, since 1900 -- this Red Sox team is just the seventh to start its season 16-2 or better. The two other entries to the list: the 1918 New York Giants (17-1) and the 1911 Tigers (16-2). Including Boston, that means five AL teams have accomplished the feat, compared to two National League teams.

3. It's hard to believe this team lost on Opening Day. Since then, the Red Sox have won 16 of 17 games. The last time Boston went 16-1 in any 17-game stretch? That would be 2004, when the Sox went 16-1 from Aug. 16 to Sept. 3. You might remember that history-making Red Sox team, which shattered the Curse of the Bambino and won the franchise's first World Series since 1918.

4. Boston has already outscored its opponents by 66 runs this season, by far the best run differential in baseball. The Red Sox have scored 116 runs -- the most in MLB, with the Blue Jays next at 106 -- and they have allowed just 50, the third fewest of any team. Toronto is the next-closest team to Boston by run differential, and the Jays are nearly 30 behind, at plus-37.

Video: BOS@LAA: Martinez lines an RBI double to left

5. The Red Sox plus-66 run differential is actually historically good. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it's tied for the fourth-highest run differential through a team's first 18 games in the entire modern era (since 1900). It's the best run differential by any team through 18 games since the 1993 Tigers.

Best run differential through 18 team games
Modern era (since 1900)
1. 1905 New York Giants: +80
2. 1918 New York Giants: +72
3. 1993 Tigers: +67
4. 2018 Red Sox: +66
4. 1902 Pirates: +66

6. Alex Cora is having unprecedented success for a rookie manager. Per Elias, in the modern era (since 1900), the only other skipper to win at least 16 of his first 18 games as an MLB manager was Joe Morgan -- also for the Red Sox, in 1988. (Morgan won 17 of his first 18 games.)

But Morgan was a midseason replacement for John McNamara, and those wins came in July. Cora is the first manager since 1900 to start a season with a new club by winning at least 16 of the first 18 games.

7. The Red Sox offense is clicking on all cylinders. As a team, Boston leads the Major Leagues in batting average (.292), on-base percentage (.362), slugging percentage (.496) and OPS (.859). The Sox have also struck out in just 16.3 percent of plate appearances, the lowest rate of any team.

In the just-completed sweep of the Angels, the Red Sox mashed 11 home runs, with the highlight a six-homer game in the series opener, including three by Mookie Betts. Those 11 home runs are the most the Sox have hit in a three-game series since 1977, when they hit a team-record 16 against the Yankees from June 17-19.

Video: BOS@LAA: Benintendi blasts first homer of the season

8. The pitching has been almost as good as the hitting. Red Sox starting pitchers are now 12-1 with a 1.98 ERA, the lowest by any rotation in the Major Leagues. Their relievers, meanwhile, have not allowed a run in their last 14 innings pitched, and just one run in their past 20 innings. Hitters are just 3-for-their-past-48 against Boston's bullpen.

Video: BOS@LAA: Rodriguez gives up three hits in six innings

9. Betts is providing the Red Sox a huge spark at the top of the order. He leads the Major Leagues with a .391 batting average, a 1.277 OPS and 22 runs scored -- the most runs by a Red Sox player in the team's first 18 games since at least 1908. (Johnny Pesky had 21 runs scored through 18 games in 1950, and Ted Williams had 21 in 1942.) In the Angels series, Betts twice led off the game with a home run, extending his own franchise record for most leadoff home runs to 13.

Video: BOS@LAA: Betts belts 13th leadoff home run of career

And, of course, there was Betts' three-home-run game, which was the third of his career. The 25-year-old is just the third player in Major League history with three three-homer games before turning 26. The others: Boog Powell and Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner.

Video: Must C Crushed: Betts HRs off Ohtani, slugs two more

10. The previous franchise record for most wins in the team's first 18 games was 15, established by the 1946 Boston club. The 1946 Red Sox moved to 15-3 by beating none other than Hall of Famer Bob Feller -- and they kept on winning after that. Actually, their 18th game came in the middle of a 15-game winning streak that took them from 7-3 to 21-3. In other words, the 2018 Sox will actually have to keep winning if they want to match their predecessors' pace.

David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.

Boston Red Sox

Moose's 5th HR extends hit streak to 11 games

MLB.com @FlannyMLB

DETROIT -- Royals designated hitter Mike Moustakas left no doubt about how he would extend his hitting streak to 11 games.

Moustakas launched his fifth home run of the season in the top of the sixth, pulling the Royals within one run of the Tigers on Friday at Comerica Park.

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DETROIT -- Royals designated hitter Mike Moustakas left no doubt about how he would extend his hitting streak to 11 games.

Moustakas launched his fifth home run of the season in the top of the sixth, pulling the Royals within one run of the Tigers on Friday at Comerica Park.

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Moustakas jumped on a 1-1 changeup from Tigers right-hander Michael Fulmer, and he sent it into the right-field seats. The ball left Moustakas' bat with 106-mph exit velocity, per Statcast™, and it traveled a projected 407 feet.

Moustakas' 11-game hitting streak is the second-longest active streak in the Major Leagues behind Brian Dozier's 13-game streak for Minnesota.

Moustakas' longest career hitting streak is 15 games in 2011.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Kansas City Royals, Mike Moustakas

These 11 additions are making huge impacts

MLB.com @RichardJustice

Some of the offseason's best moves have worked out just the way we thought they might. Shohei Ohtani has been as good as advertised in his new digs in Southern California, and no one should be surprised by what Todd Frazier and J.D. Martinez have done with the Mets and Red Sox, respectively.

Among the more interesting moves are the ones that got less attention: Ryan Flaherty to the Braves, Bud Norris to the Cardinals and Corey Dickerson to the Pirates. And they've all had an impact on the division races.

Some of the offseason's best moves have worked out just the way we thought they might. Shohei Ohtani has been as good as advertised in his new digs in Southern California, and no one should be surprised by what Todd Frazier and J.D. Martinez have done with the Mets and Red Sox, respectively.

Among the more interesting moves are the ones that got less attention: Ryan Flaherty to the Braves, Bud Norris to the Cardinals and Corey Dickerson to the Pirates. And they've all had an impact on the division races.

So let's take a look not just at the good players who have changed teams in the past few months, but the players who have impacted the races in the first weeks of this new season:

1. Shohei Ohtani, Angels
.324 BA, 1.055 OPS, 3 HR
3.60 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 3 GS

Even those of us who were thrilled at the possibility of baseball getting a true two-way player did not envision the 23-year-old Ohtani being this good. Our MLB Pipeline folks told us the guy was a No. 1-type prospect as both a hitter and a pitcher. Would he have time to hone both skills? So far that hasn't been a problem, and apart from the things that can be measured, the energy Ohtani brings to the ballpark and clubhouse surely is part of the reason for the Angels' fast start.

2. Gerrit Cole, Astros
0.96 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 13.2 K/9
The Astros believed they were adding a third ace to a rotation that already had Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander, and Cole has been just that. Yes, his pitch usage has changed -- fewer fastballs, more curves and sliders -- but the bottom line could be that he's feeding off the vibes of a winning environment, and that he was ready for a change in scenery, whether he knew it or not.

Video: TEX@HOU: Cole sets a career-high with 14 strikeouts

3. Todd Frazier, Mets
.969 OPS, 3 HR, 5 2B

It's never about one guy, and Frazier would be the first to say that. Besides, he's not the only addition who has helped the Mets climb to the top of the National League East. But Frazier brings plenty that has contributed to one of baseball's early feel-good stories -- from his offense to his performance at third base to the professionalism and approach that play well over a long season.

4. Corey Dickerson, Pirates
.313 BA, .838 OPS
No team has been a bigger surprise than the Pirates, and it begins with an offense that has gone from near the bottom in 2017 (4.1 runs per game) to near the top of the NL in 2018 (5.2 runs per game). Some of that improvement is the growth of young players like Josh Bell and Gregory Polanco, but Dickerson, who'd been designated for assignment by the Rays, has added depth to an offense that didn't have much of it last season.

5. Ryan Flaherty and Preston Tucker, Braves (tie)
Flaherty: .352 BA, .935 OPS
Tucker: .872 OPS, 3 HR, 4 2B
Two significant under-the-radar acquisitions by new general manager Alex Anthopoulos have helped jump-start the Braves. Tucker was caught in a numbers crunch with the Astros, while Flaherty opted out of his contract with the Phillies at the end of Spring Training. No NL team has scored more runs.

Video: PHI@ATL: Flaherty hits a three-run HR to right-center

7. Bud Norris, Cardinals
4 saves, 1.93 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 16.4 K/9
The Cardinals thought they had their closer when Greg Holland was signed at the beginning of the regular season, and he may end up with that role at some point. For now, though, Norris has emerged as the guy getting the ball from manager Mike Matheny late in games. His fastball is sitting at 95 mph, the fastest in his 10 seasons.

8. J.D. Martinez, Red Sox
.983 OPS, 4 HR, 5 2B
Martinez has done everything the Red Sox hoped he would, and that's not what you often hear about big-ticket free agents in their first month with a new team. While he's only one part of a team that looks like baseball's best at the moment, his impact should not be underestimated.

9. Wade Davis, Rockies
8 saves, 10.8 K/9, 0.72 WHIP

The Rockies invested $106 million in creating a super bullpen, and Davis' signing followed those of Jake McGee and Bryan Shaw as the finishing touch. Davis has arguably been baseball's best reliever the past five seasons, and some wondered if the workload -- 244 appearances between 2014-17 -- would impact his stuff. He has been as good as ever.

Video: COL@WSH: Davis retires Zimmerman to earn the save

10. Addison Reed, Twins
7 games, 0.89 WHIP

The Twins signed veteran Fernando Rodney to close games, which allows Reed to pitch multiple innings. He has been among baseball's best relievers the past four seasons, and he is off to a good start with his new team.

11. Jake Arrieta, Phillies
2.04 ERA, 0.96 WHIP

Arrieta was signed because he gives the Phillies a bona fide top-of-the-rotation pitcher to solidify the starting staff. Beyond that, he was brought in as a role model for a young unit, to set an example with his preparation, game management and poise. So far, Arrieta has done just that.

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.

Kershaw v. Scherzer: Tale of the Tape

No one has defined pitching in the 2010s more than Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw. Over the last five years, the two have appeared in every All-Star Game; they rank in the top four in ERA, strikeouts and wins; and they've combined for one MVP and five Cy Young Awards, while never finishing outside the top five in Cy Young voting. They are, put simply, the two best pitchers on the planet -- and on Friday night, they'll face off for just the third time in their careers.

Before we get to that, though, we need to take stock of just how great Kershaw and Scherzer have been -- and try to figure out who has the edge. They're both on a path to Cooperstown, but which one has had the best career? Check out the tale of the tape:

Should the Yankees trade Dellin Betances?

Assessing New York's options for struggling All-Star reliever
MLB.com

While Dellin Betances has been one of the most dominant relievers in the game since 2014, his performance this season has left much to be desired for new manager Aaron Boone and Yankees fans alike.

Betances' command problems actually date back to last year, when the right-hander averaged 6.6 walks per nine innings. Although he made the American League All-Star team for the fourth straight campaign, he posted a 5.68 ERA with a 7.8 BB/9 rate over his final 16 games of the regular season and wasn't among former manager Joe Girardi's most trusted bullpen arms in the playoffs.

While Dellin Betances has been one of the most dominant relievers in the game since 2014, his performance this season has left much to be desired for new manager Aaron Boone and Yankees fans alike.

Betances' command problems actually date back to last year, when the right-hander averaged 6.6 walks per nine innings. Although he made the American League All-Star team for the fourth straight campaign, he posted a 5.68 ERA with a 7.8 BB/9 rate over his final 16 games of the regular season and wasn't among former manager Joe Girardi's most trusted bullpen arms in the playoffs.

Betances, 30, told me during Spring Training that he spent the offseason trying to perfect his pitching mechanics so he could be more consistent in the strike zone. Sure enough, he has trimmed his BB/9 rate in 2018 (3.1) and is still racking up strikeouts (15.6 K/9 rate). However, Betances' velocity is down -- he was averaging 96.7 mph with his four-seam fastball entering Thursday's game, down from 98.1 mph over 2015-17, according to Statcast™ -- and he's yielded six runs on 11 hits (including three homers) in 8 2/3 innings. Before he threw a scoreless inning vs. the Blue Jays on Thursday, opponents were slugging .571 against his four-seam fastball, up from .396 from 2015-17.

Video: NYY@TOR: Solarte belts a go-ahead homer in the 8th

The Yankees have several options to consider as they attempt to weather Betances' struggles.

1. Use him in lower-leverage outings
The Yankees were seemingly reluctant to utilize this strategy last season, as 56 of Betances' 66 appearances came in the eighth inning or later and only one began earlier than the seventh. Boone, however, appears to be open to this option. Betances was called upon to close out a 12-1 win vs. the Marlins on April 16, and prior to that he was utilized in the eighth inning with the Yanks leading, 8-3, against the Tigers. With Chad Green, Adam Warren, Chasen Shreve, David Robertson and Aroldis Chapman at his disposal, Boone can afford to let Betances work on refining his delivery away from pivotal situations.

Video: BAL@NYY: Betances fans Mancini, K's the side

2. Use him in shorter stints
If the Yankees want to continue challenging Betances by using him in key spots, they could find advantageous moments to do so by limiting him to one to three batters, especially against the lower and more forgiving part of opponents' lineups. The idea is to limit the effects Betances' early struggles have on the team's record but also give him the opportunity to pitch in situations that matter to build confidence.

3. Focus on pitch usage
Betances has been particularly ineffective against left-handed hitters this season, yielding a 1.722 OPS. Last season, when lefty batters posted a .441 OPS against him, Betances used his curveball nearly 66 percent of the time on the first pitch in those matchups, according to Statcast™. This season? Only 50 percent. Bumping that up may allow him not only to get ahead of hitters but also to use his fastball later in the count with greater success.

Video: NYY@DET: Candelario launches 440-ft. homer vs. Yanks

4. Trade him
Finding a match for a deal would be difficult. Other general managers will likely be hesitant to give the Yankees a major haul for the volatile hurler, even though Betances is earning a reasonable $5.1 million salary this season and has another year of arbitration eligibility before free agency. One option for Yankees general manager Brian Cashman could be to try to work out a trade with current Angels GM (and former Yanks assistant GM) Billy Eppler, who saw Betances up close at his peak and might be willing to pay more than others in hopes of acquiring a potential closer. A back-end starter such as Parker Bridwell might be a fair offer, giving the Yankees much-needed pitching depth. Of course, if the Yanks trade Betances at this point, they would be selling low. That usually isn't a wise move, especially with a player of Betances' caliber. With all things considered, the Yankees would be best served to hold onto him and allow him to work out his command problems in hopes that he will regain his All-Star form.

Yankees fans, take heed; there may be more rocky appearances in the near term. But based on the right-hander's track record and some of the encouraging signs he's shown this season, I'm expecting a rebound.

Jim Duquette, who was the Mets' GM in 2004, offers his opinions as a studio analyst and columnist for MLB.com.

New York Yankees, Dellin Betances

Here are 7 future managerial candidates

MLB.com @feinsand

The Reds' dismissal of Bryan Price has created the first managerial opening of 2018, prompting speculation about who will become the next skipper in Cincinnati.

As is the case with nearly every opening, we'll hear plenty of familiar names such as Joe Girardi, Brad Ausmus and John Farrell, all of whom have recently managed in the Majors. Farrell's name figures to surface on the Reds' list of candidates after he was hired as a scout by Cincinnati this offseason. Jim Riggleman was moved from his role as bench coach to serve as the Reds' interim manager.

The Reds' dismissal of Bryan Price has created the first managerial opening of 2018, prompting speculation about who will become the next skipper in Cincinnati.

As is the case with nearly every opening, we'll hear plenty of familiar names such as Joe Girardi, Brad Ausmus and John Farrell, all of whom have recently managed in the Majors. Farrell's name figures to surface on the Reds' list of candidates after he was hired as a scout by Cincinnati this offseason. Jim Riggleman was moved from his role as bench coach to serve as the Reds' interim manager.

But as we saw this past winter, teams are routinely looking for the next big thing, with five of the six new managers -- Aaron Boone, Mickey Callaway, Alex Cora, Gabe Kapler and Dave Martinez -- all landing their first managerial jobs this season.

Here are seven candidates that could find themselves in contention for a managerial job in the coming months.

Sandy Alomar Jr. (Indians' first-base coach)
The former All-Star catcher has put together a solid coaching résumé since retiring in 2007, serving as a catching instructor with the Mets in '08 before joining the Indians as the first-base coach in '09. He's been with Cleveland ever since.

Alomar, who became the bench coach in 2012, served as Cleveland's interim manager for the final six games that season following the dismissal of Manny Acta. He was one of only two candidates for the permanent job after the season but lost out to Terry Francona. Alomar spent '13 as Francona's bench coach before moving back to first-base coach, where he remains today.

In addition to his interview with the Indians, Alomar has been a candidate for openings with the Cubs, Red Sox and Blue Jays, falling short each time.

Video: Alomar Jr. on importance of series in Puerto Rico

Jay Bell (Yankees' Double-A manager)
Bell played 18 years in the Majors for five teams and has coached for four organizations since 2005, giving him a wealth of knowledge about much of the league.

Known as a great teacher of young players, Bell is managing the Yankees' Double-A affiliate in Trenton. He had his first taste of the job last season with the team's Class A Advanced team in Tampa, where he was named the Florida State League's Manager of the Year.

Bell has been a hitting coach with the Pirates and a bench coach with the D-backs and Reds, giving him a big league coaching résumé to go with his Minor League managerial experience.

Carlos Beltran (Retired player)
The nine-time All-Star hung up his spikes after winning his first World Series championship last fall, closing out an accomplished 20-year career that could land him in the Hall of Fame five years from now.

But weeks after riding in the parade through the streets of Houston, Beltran found himself meeting with Brian Cashman and the rest of the Yankees' front office, interviewing for the team's vacant managerial position. He lost out to Boone, and although Beltran would have been a welcome addition to many coaching staffs, he opted to spend 2018 with his family before considering his future.

Whether Beltran opts to pursue potential coaching opportunities as early as next season remains to be seen, but the soon-to-be 41-year-old has made it clear that he envisions a future in that arena.

Video: Carlos Beltran is a fan of advanced metrics

Gary DiSarcina (Mets' bench coach)
DiSarcina is in his first season as the Mets' bench coach, having served in the same capacity for the Red Sox in 2017. DiSarcina also coordinated Boston's entire Spring Training program, just the latest entry on an impressive résumé.

The 50-year-old -- who has been a candidate for openings in Seattle and Philadelphia -- managed four years in the Boston organization at the Class A (2007-09) and Triple-A ('13) levels, winning three division titles in those seasons.

DiSarcina has also been a member of a front office, serving as a special assistant to the general manager with the Angels in 2011. He later held the third-base and first-base coaching jobs on Mike Scioscia's staff from 2014-16.

Joe Espada (Astros' bench coach)
The Astros' bench coach spent three years on Girardi's staff with the Yankees from 2015-17, though he wasn't given an opportunity to interview for New York's managerial job after Girardi was not brought back. Espada also spent a year working in Cashman's front office as a pro scout.

Prior to joining the Yankees, Espada spent eight years with the Marlins' organization, the last four (2010-13) as the team's third-base coach. Having worked with the Yanks and Astros, the 42-year-old is well-versed in analytics, a plus for any potential managerial candidate.

Espada has also managed in the Puerto Rican Winter League and has served as Puerto Rico's third-base coach in both the 2013 and '17 World Baseball Classic.

Kevin Long (Nationals' hitting coach)
Long was a finalist for the Mets' managerial job this winter, finishing as the runner-up to Callaway. Having spent three seasons (2015-17) as the Mets' hitting coach and eight years (2007-14) in the same role with the Yankees, the 51-year-old has been a part of one World Series champion and another pennant-winning club.

Although Long -- now in his first year as the Nationals' hitting coach -- has spent the past 12 seasons as a Major League hitting coach, he managed in the Carolina League and Northwest League in 1998-99, giving him bench experience.

Video: 30 Clubs in 30 Days: Conforto, Long on hitting drills

Chris Woodward (Dodgers' third-base coach)
Woodward was one of six candidates interviewed by the Yankees this offseason, furthering his reputation as a future Major League manager.

The 41-year-old played for five teams during his 12 seasons (1999-2011) in the Majors, starting his coaching career in 2013 as the Mariners' Minor League infield coordinator. Woodward went on to serve as Seattle's infield coach in '14 and first-base coach in '15 before joining Dave Roberts' Dodgers staff as the third-base and infield coach in '16.

While Woodward hasn't managed in the Minors, he did serve as manager of New Zealand's World Baseball Classic qualifier team in 2013.

Mark Feinsand is an executive reporter for MLB.com.

Buck on Betts: 'Best right fielder I've ever seen'

Red Sox right fielder putting himself into AL MVP Award discussion
MLB.com @MikeLupica

You can start, if you want to, just for fun, with some of the things Mookie Betts is not, right before you get to all the pretty wonderful things he is on a baseball field. Betts is not Mike Trout, for example. He's not ever going to make the kind of money Bryce Harper is going to make after this season. Betts has not been past the first round of the playoffs yet in his Red Sox career. He's not an American League MVP Award winner, at least not yet, even if he did finish second in the voting once.

You want one more? Betts is not included nearly often enough in the conversation about the best young players in the deepest and best crop of young players in all of baseball history. But now we're talking. Because when you add it all up with Betts, when you look at his offense and at his defense, you need to ask yourself a question:

You can start, if you want to, just for fun, with some of the things Mookie Betts is not, right before you get to all the pretty wonderful things he is on a baseball field. Betts is not Mike Trout, for example. He's not ever going to make the kind of money Bryce Harper is going to make after this season. Betts has not been past the first round of the playoffs yet in his Red Sox career. He's not an American League MVP Award winner, at least not yet, even if he did finish second in the voting once.

You want one more? Betts is not included nearly often enough in the conversation about the best young players in the deepest and best crop of young players in all of baseball history. But now we're talking. Because when you add it all up with Betts, when you look at his offense and at his defense, you need to ask yourself a question:

How many two-way players are better than the leadoff man for the Red Sox who, oh by the way, has been the best player in baseball this April?

Here is what Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who has seen plenty of Betts in the AL East, says about him:

"I've told anyone who will listen. He's the best right fielder I've ever seen in person. The dynamic he creates for them defensively in right field at Fenway is a big advantage for Boston. Special player. Game changer. The term five-tool player is used loosely. But it aptly describes him. One of my most favorite players in our game."

Here is what AJ Hinch, whose Astros beat Betts' Red Sox in the AL Division Series last season, says about Betts:

"He is an incredible talent. I love his energy, and impact. Offensively, he is never off the fastball, and can time up any velocity. A dangerous hitter because of how he barrels up pitches. Defensively, he has every skill you look for. He's a premier player in this league. He can do it all on any given day."

Again: We talk a lot, and properly so, about Trout and Jose Altuve and Aaron Judge, about Harper and Manny Machado and Hinch's gifted shortstop, Carlos Correa -- another wonderful two-way player, at bat and in the field. But we do not talk nearly enough about Betts, except perhaps right now, when he is hitting .391 and hit three home runs the other night and might have had a chance for four if there hadn't been a double play before his last at-bat.

Betts has now hit three homers in a game three times already in his five-year career. It happens to be something that Willie Mays also did three times, and Joe DiMaggio did three times. Babe Ruth did it twice. So did Ken Griffey Jr.

Video: Mookie Betts collects a trio of three-homer games

These are Betts' stats for his four full seasons in the big leagues, starting in 2015 (he played 52 games in '14, hit .291, with five home runs and 18 RBIs), all the way through Thursday night's game against the Angels:

2015: .291 AVG, 18 homers, 77 RBIs, 92 runs, 21 stolen bases, .820 OPS.
2016: .318 AVG, 31 homers, 113 RBIs, 122 runs, 26 stolen bases, .897 OPS.
2017: .264 AVG, 24 homers, 102 RBIs, 101 runs, 26 steals, .803 OPS.
2018: .391 AVG, 6 homers, 14 RBIs, 22 runs, 1.277 OPS.

In addition to his six homers, Betts has scored 22 runs -- the most through 18 games in Red Sox history. And then there is his play in right field, which is as good as you will ever see with your own eyes, just as Showalter, who has seen plenty in his baseball life, said.

Of course with a player's defense, we now have better tools than ever to measure performance, and Betts is clearly the No. 1 right fielder in this area. According to Statcast™'s Outs Above Average (OAA) metric, Betts has 36 OAA since the start of 2016, which is 10 more than anyone at that position. That's right, even better than Jason Heyward, who is second to Betts with 26 OAA in that time, and was pretty much given $184 million because he is a terrific fielder himself.

Video: TB@BOS: Statcast™ measures Betts' five-star catch

Since the start of 2015, Betts has a WAR of 23.4 (per Baseball Reference), behind only Trout at 28.1. He is a force of baseball nature. Betts has come into 2018 swinging, being more aggressive than ever at the urging of new Red Sox manager Alex Cora. He is, in Hinch's words, "barreling up" on just about everything he sees, as the Red Sox have barreled to the top of the standings for all of baseball so far. Betts does not hit home runs the way Harper does, or Judge does. But among the sport's biggest stars in the outfielder, only Trout is in the same conversation with him. 

"There's a different approach [this season]," Cora said of Betts on WEEI radio on Thursday. "I think [Betts] set the tempo on the first-pitch fastball of the season when he almost took it out of the ballpark in Tampa against [Chris] Archer. Instead of just working the count, taking pitches right down the middle and falling behind, he's ready to attack from the get-go. You can see now pitchers, they know what's going on so they have to grind from the first pitch with every at-bat. I don't think it's a hot stretch. I think this is the guy. Obviously his OPS is not going to be 1.400. He'll be over .900, and that's a good leadoff hitter. I mean, that's elite. That's what we wanted from the get-go, and he's done an outstanding job."

Video: BOS@TB: Kiermaier robs Betts of extra bases in 1st

Yeah. Betts has done that, before the age of 26. He is that good, well on his way to being one of the great players of his time. Silly to talk about what Betts is not for even five more minutes. Only what he is. Right there in front of everybody's eyes. 

Mike Lupica is a columnist for MLB.com. He also writes for the New York Daily News.

Boston Red Sox, Mookie Betts

10 prospects on verge of helping fantasy teams

Acuna retains top spot in fantasy prospect rankings; Jimenez joins list; Calhoun, Torres climb
MLB.com @GoldenSombrero

While no one from the previous installment of MLB Pipeline's list of the top fantasy prospects for 2018 has since been promoted to the Majors, Tyler O'Neill was called up Thursday.

O'Neill's promotion comes after a torrid start to the season with Triple-A Memphis, where he hit .388/.385/.837 with six home runs and 18 RBIs in his first 12 games. He has hit 93 home runs in 378 games since the start of 2015, highlighted by a pair of 30-plus-homer campaigns (2015, '17).

While no one from the previous installment of MLB Pipeline's list of the top fantasy prospects for 2018 has since been promoted to the Majors, Tyler O'Neill was called up Thursday.

O'Neill's promotion comes after a torrid start to the season with Triple-A Memphis, where he hit .388/.385/.837 with six home runs and 18 RBIs in his first 12 games. He has hit 93 home runs in 378 games since the start of 2015, highlighted by a pair of 30-plus-homer campaigns (2015, '17).

The Cardinals' No. 4 prospect (No. 94 overall), with his tremendous right-handed power, has the potential to make a major fantasy impact at some point. However, his ultimate fantasy impact will boil down to his ability to make consistent contact while capitalizing on his playing time in a deep St. Louis outfield.

O'Neill struck out swinging in his lone at-bat Thursday in his big league debut, a pinch-hit opportunity in the fifth inning against the Cubs. Although the 22-year-old was one of the most accomplished home run hitters in the Minors, swing-and-miss tendencies have been a part of his game at every level.

As for the players who are still in the Minor Leagues, below are our updated rankings of the top 10 fantasy prospects. As always, we're considering only expected 2018 fantasy production in the big leagues, while our Top 100 Prospects list reflects long-term value in all phases of the game.

1. Ronald Acuna Jr., OF, Braves (Previous rank: 1)
Acuna finally entered the home run column this week, as the 20-year-old phenom connected on a two-run shot to left field in his second multihit game of the season for Triple-A Gwinnett on Tuesday. Though he's started slowly, hitting .182 with a .567 OPS and 17 strikeouts in his first 11 games, there is little reason to doubt Acuna's impact potential once he finally gets the call to Atlanta.

2. Willie Calhoun, OF, Rangers (Previous rank: 3)
Calhoun hasn't exactly blistered the ball in the early going, hitting .250/.308/.400 with two homers in 15 games with Triple-A Round Rock. That said, the 23-year-old left-handed hitter, who appeared in 13 games with Texas as a September callup in 2017, should be up for good once his bat picks up, especially with the Rangers' outfield currently plagued by injuries and lacking productivity.

3. Gleyber Torres, INF, Yankees (Previous rank: 4)
Few, if any, hitters appear more poised for an early callup than Torres, who has opened his season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre by hitting .372/.408/.558 with five extra-base hits and 11 RBIs in 12 games. The bulk of Torres' playing time so far has come at third base (eight games) -- an obvious area of need for the Yankees early this season -- and it's the 21-year-old's potential for multiposition eligibility (3B/SS/2B) that, when combined with his offensive ceiling, makes him such an appealing fantasy asset.

4. Nick Senzel, 3B, Reds (Previous rank: 2)
Senzel, 22, opened his season with Triple-A Louisville playing mostly second base, but he has since moved back to the hot corner in the wake of Eugenio Suarez landing on the disabled list for six to eight weeks (fractured right thumb). Like Torres, Senzel is a potentially versatile infielder who can hit for average and power while supplying some speed.

Video: Callis breaks down MLB Pipeline's Team of the Week

5. Victor Robles, OF, Nationals (Previous rank: 6)
The Nationals received good news late last week when it was announced that Robles would miss months, rather than all of 2018, after suffering a hyperextended left elbow on April 9 while diving for a ball in center field. The injury still will cost Robles a chunk of his season, but the 20-year-old outfielder, with his ability to contribute in all facets of the game, could be a boon for fantasy owners chasing batting average, runs and steals during the second half. 

6. Austin Hays, OF, Orioles (Previous rank: 8)
After battling minor injuries during Spring Training, Hays opened his season back in Double-A, as the Orioles' Triple-A outfield has a logjam of short-term and veteran options such Joey Rickard, Jaycob Brugman and Alex Presley. They shouldn't keep Hays from rising through the Minors as he did in 2017, when he became the first 2016 Draft pick to the reach the Major Leagues. Strikeouts have been an issue for Hays so far, but he's connected on three home runs in 13 games.

7. Dustin Fowler, OF, A's (Previous rank: 7)
Fowler impressed the A's while competing for the center-field job during Spring Training, and he's swung the bat well so far in Triple-A while accumulating much-needed at-bats after missing substantial time due to the knee injury he suffered in his big league debut with the Yankees last June. Fowler's power-speed blend makes him an intriguing option for Oakland in center field, where the team is deploying an underwhelming combination of Mark Canha and Jake Smolinski with Boog Powell on the DL.

Video: Fowler on his first spring game back after surgery

8. Francisco Mejia, C, Indians (Previous rank: 9)
Mejia has seen nearly as much time in left field (four games) as he has behind the plate (six games) with Triple-A Columbus, as the Indians continue to explore ways to get the talented switch-hitter's bat into their big league lineup. While his average sits at .208 through 11 games, Mejia has connected on two home runs and doubles apiece despite frigid conditions in the International League.

9. Eloy Jimenez, OF, White Sox (Previous rank: NR)
A mild pectoral strain sidelined Jimenez during the first half of April, but the 21-year-old outfielder is officially back in action after making his season debut Thursday with Double-A Birmingham (0-for-3, RBI, BB). Jimenez torched Southern League pitching over 18 games last summer, hitting .353/.397/.559, and it would surprise no one if he did something similar this year en route to the Major Leagues. With an elite blend of hitting ability and power, Jimenez has the ceiling of a real-life and fantasy star.

10. Michael Kopech, RHP, White Sox (Previous rank: 10)
After a shaky spring in big league camp, Kopech, 21, has looked like his usual self with Triple-A Charlotte, posting a 0.90 ERA with seven hits allowed and 11 strikeouts in 10 innings (two starts). There's sure to be other highly regarding pitching prospects to get the call before Kopech, but none have the potential to impact a fantasy roster quite like the South Siders' young flamethrower.

Video: CWS@TOR: Kopech on preparing for his first start

Dropped out: Jack Flaherty, RHP, Cardinals (Previous rank: 5)

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.

Time for these division favorites to wake up

MLB.com @JPosnanski

This was going to be the season of inevitability. Everybody thought so … and was depressed by the realization. One of the wonderful things about baseball is that it resists predictability. No team has repeated as champion in almost two decades. Surprising and disappointing teams always come along to give the season some buzz.

This year, though, was going to end all that.

This was going to be the season of inevitability. Everybody thought so … and was depressed by the realization. One of the wonderful things about baseball is that it resists predictability. No team has repeated as champion in almost two decades. Surprising and disappointing teams always come along to give the season some buzz.

This year, though, was going to end all that.

We all knew, before it ever began, that the Yankees would win the American League East, Cleveland would win the AL Central, Houston would win the AL West, Washington would win the National League East, the Cubs would win the NL Central and the Dodgers would win the NL West. We all knew it.

• MLB standings

The season has barely begun -- we are only three weeks in. Making judgments now would be absurd.

Still, it's a bit striking that at this moment, not one of those teams leads its division.

It's a nice reminder of baseball's temperamental nature. Yes, maybe the mathematical density of 162 games will bring order to the world and all those sure-thing teams will rise to the top, while all those early season surprises -- the Pirates, Angels, Mets, Braves, Phillies and Blue Jays -- will melt away.

But maybe not. Let's take a look at where are our favorites are now … and what the future looks like after only a few weeks.

AL East favorites: New York Yankees (9-8)
Unlike the other five divisions, the Yankees were not prohibitive favorites. Most people expected the Red Sox to be a sturdy challenger. All right, nobody expected Boston to get off to a 16-2 start -- the best in baseball since the 1987 Brewers -- but there were some who thought the Red Sox could beat out the Yanks.

More picked the Yankees though. It's tempting to pin New York's sluggish start on the early season slumps of Giancarlo Stanton (.203 average with 29 strikeouts in 17 games) and Gary Sanchez (.219 on-base percentage) but the Yanks' real problem has been pitching. The rotation was viewed as a potential Achilles' heel, and so far that has been true; even with the excellence of Luis Severino, the starters' ERA is 4.47.

Video: Verducci on moving Stanton in order, Tribe's rotation

But it's the bullpen that has been the bigger disappointment. Coming into the season, people were talking about the Yankees' bullpen being the best in baseball history, but they've been a bit vulnerable in the early going. David Robertson, Dellin Betances and Tommy Kahnle have all been startlingly hittable.

Key player going forward: Sonny Gray. He has a 6.92 ERA through three starts, but he has pitched much better than that. Gray has not allowed a home run yet, and he has 15 strikeouts in 13 innings, but he has been absurdly unlucky. His FIP is 2.65, more than four runs better than his ERA, which is freakish. This is what happens when you give up a .409 average on balls in play. Put it this way: Hitters are batting .310 against Gray; Statcast™ has his his expected batting average against at .260. That's one of the biggest gaps in baseball. If you're a Yanks fan, you would expect that to even out.

Chances of still winning the division: Moderate. Stanton will heat up. The bullpen is too overpowering to be mediocre. But we can say this: This division is no longer in their control. The Red Sox are playing otherworldly baseball. One point in the Yankees' favor: Yes, the 1987 Brewers started 17-1 (and 20-3) and then promptly lost 12 in a row and 18 of 20 to fall into fourth place; they were never heard from again in the pennant race.

AL Central favorites: Cleveland (9-7)
Cleveland isn't scoring runs. The Tribe came into 2018 expecting to have the best rotation in the AL, and that rotation has delivered. Corey Kluber is in the midst of a legendary pitching stretch, Carlos Carrasco is healthy, Trevor Bauer seems to have figured things out and Mike Clevinger looks pretty darned good.

In the bullpen, Cody Allen and Andrew Miller have pitched 16 1/3 innings without giving up a run.

Video: DET@CLE: Kluber, Miller shine on mound, Zimmer homers

But where will the runs come from? Cleveland's Infield is hitting .174. The whole infield. And that's supposed to be the strength of this lineup, with Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez at the heart of the order.

Here's the thing, though: You expect that to turn around -- Statcast™ numbers show that Cleveland has been by far the unluckiest team in baseball, underperforming by .36 points in batting average (highest in baseball), by .100 in slugging (highest in baseball) and by .054 in weighted on-base average (highest in baseball).

Key player going forward: Lindor. He is the Tribe's beating heart.

Chances of still winning the division: They're only a half-game back of Minnesota; the Tribe is still the heavy favorite to take the Central.

AL West favorites: Houston (13-7)
The Astros do not fit in with the other five favorites -- they are playing extremely well. Still, for the moment, they find themselves a half-game behind the crazy mojo of the Los Angeles Angels.

Video: TEX@HOU: Verlander K's 11, hurls eight one-hit frames

The Astros' roster is so absurdly loaded -- especially if Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander decide to be unhittable all year -- that you can't imagine the Angels keeping pace. But let's not discount the Shohei Ohtani factor. Everybody knows the Halos have the best player in baseball in Mike Trout. They have numerous other interesting players: a future Hall of Famer in Albert Pujols, the best defensive shortstop of our time in Andrelton Simmons, a bunch of very good veteran hitters, a fascinating pitcher if he could ever stay healthy in Garrett Richards, etc.

But the sheer dynamism of Ohtani -- his power pitching, his power hitting, his rather absurd speed, his extraordinary charisma -- can have a huge impact. Remember what a sensation Ichiro was when he came to America in 2001? Full ballparks … crowded press boxes … the nation watched. And that Mariners team (even after losing their best player in Alex Rodriguez) played out of their minds all season and won 116 games with basically 90-win talent.

Key player going forward: Jose Altuve. The Astros don't really have a single key player; this roster is so loaded that I suspect they could overcome just about any setback. But Altuve means so much to the team and the city that he remains their key.

Chances of still winning the division: I'd be shocked if they didn't win the division, even with the Ohtani factor.

NL East favorites: Washington (9-10)
The firing of Dusty Baker made no sense to me. I get that the Nationals had another monumental playoff collapse, and Baker's unfortunate postseasons are well known. But this Nats team won 97 games last year, they are a locked-and-loaded veteran team nearing the end of their window, this just seemed an odd decision to break away from a manager who, for all his faults, has won 1,863 big league games and go with a bright but entirely untested new manager in Dave Martinez.

The switch might have nothing at all to do with the Nationals' listless start, but, yes, they do look listless. The bullpen is a raging forest fire. The offense doesn't seem cohesive at all, even with Bryce Harper crushing every good pitch he sees. Injuries have taken an early season toll. There's just a feel of blah in Washington.

Video: WSH@NYM: Harper breaks bat, launches 406-ft. smash

Meanwhile, the Mets, Braves and Phillies are all off to what you would have to call thought-provoking starts -- Atlanta and Philadelphia in particular are young and promising, and just maybe one of them will arrive earlier than expected.

Key player going forward: Harper. Nobody pitches to him. He has 22 unintentional walks in 19 games, which is a ludicrous pace. The most unintentional walks in a season (since they started keeping tabs of intentional/unintentional) is 142. Harper could break that if pitchers keep staying away from him. And they will keep staying away from him. How will Harper deal with the frustration?

Chances of still winning the division: They still have the best talent, and the younger teams should wear down eventually. But three weeks ago, I thought the Nationals would run away with things. I'm more dubious now.

NL Central favorites: Chicago Cubs (8-8)
The record might be a little fluky: They are 0-4 in games decided by one or two runs. The bad weather has also had an effect. But here's what you can say: The Cubs played languid baseball for the first half last year before kicking it into gear. And early signs are they doing it again.

The rotation has been … not good. Yu Darvish was supposed to have a huge impact, but he has been getting knocked around. So has Jose Quintana. The offense has somewhat bizarrely underachieved: The Cubs are second in the NL in OPS, but ninth in runs, which is strange. A .213 batting average and a .300 slugging percentage with runners in scoring position isn't helping.

Video: ATL@CHC: Darvish retires Albies, strands bases loaded

Key player going forward: Anthony Rizzo. He has been hurt and struggling, but he had three hits Thursday night against the Cardinals. When Rizzo hits, the Cubs score.

Chances of still winning the division: It's shaping up to be a good race, maybe the best in baseball. The Pirates seem to be coming back to earth after their hot start, but they have some young pitching. The Cardinals and Brewers are both quite good. The Cubs remain the most talented group, but they need to kick into gear; I don't think they can wait around until the All-Star Game like last year and still win this division.

NL West favorites: Dodgers (8-9)
What the heck has happened to Kenley Jansen? No, seriously: What? Jansen's consistent dominance the past few years has been one of baseball's sure things. Yes, this is only a few innings, but that's the point: He never had bad stretches before, not even for a few innings. Then you see that Jansen's cutter velocity is down, his slider velocity is down, he has given up three home runs (he gave up only five all of last year) … it's troubling.

Video: 'Big Deal or No Big Deal' on Intentional Talk

Then everything about the Dodgers' start has been troubling. Justin Turner is out with a left wrist injury. Corey Seager and Yasiel Puig have a combined for one home run. Chris Taylor has fallen back to earth after an amazing season. Rich Hill has struggled, and now he's out with a cracked fingernail. And Jansen. It's a problem. If the Dodgers had not gotten unexpectedly fantastic starts from veterans Matt Kemp and Chase Utley, there would be even more panic in Los Angeles.

Key player going forward: Seager. I mean, sure, it's easy to say Jansen, but that will work itself out one way or another. The Dodgers need for Seager to play like Seager again. He had a terrible September, a trying postseason, and now he's struggling to hit with authority.

Chances to still win the division: You would expect the Dodgers to right things -- Turner will be back soon, some of the early slumping players should turn things around, etc. But it should be said: The D-backs are off to a 13-5 start, and that team is for real. Early signs say: Look for this to be competitive all year long. 

Joe Posnanski is a columnist for MLB.com.

New York Yankees, Washington Nationals, Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Dodgers, Houston Astros

Recall the time Dave Parker wore a goalie mask

In Game 3 of the Eastern Conference playoffs on Thursday, the 76ers beat the Heat, 123-108, behind a 23-point performance from superstar and human meme Joel Embiid. It was also Embiid's first playoff game since returning from fractures to his nose. That meant, much like the star of "Eyes Without a Face," the Sixers star donned a super cool and intimidating face mask: 

Mariners activate slugging catcher Zunino

MLB.com @mattkellyMLB

The Mariners have gotten their primary catcher back, as they activated Mike Zunino from the 10-day disabled list and recalled him from his rehab assignment at Class A Advanced Modesto on Friday. Backup catcher Mike Marjama was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma.

Zunino has been sidelined with a strained left oblique muscle since he sustained the injury during a workout on March 28, the day before Opening Day. The backstop enjoyed an excellent Spring Training in which he belted five home runs and compiled a 1.249 OPS over 43 at-bats. Zunino hit a career-high 25 homers and also set a career-best .840 OPS in 124 games with the Mariners last season.

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The Mariners have gotten their primary catcher back, as they activated Mike Zunino from the 10-day disabled list and recalled him from his rehab assignment at Class A Advanced Modesto on Friday. Backup catcher Mike Marjama was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma.

Zunino has been sidelined with a strained left oblique muscle since he sustained the injury during a workout on March 28, the day before Opening Day. The backstop enjoyed an excellent Spring Training in which he belted five home runs and compiled a 1.249 OPS over 43 at-bats. Zunino hit a career-high 25 homers and also set a career-best .840 OPS in 124 games with the Mariners last season.

View Full Game Coverage

Zunino will likely be in Seattle's starting lineup against the Rangers in Arlington on Friday. David Freitas will serve as the Mariners' backup catcher.

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.

Seattle Mariners, Mike Zunino

MLB legends comprise exclusive 3,000-hit club

MLB.com @_dadler

The 3,000-hit club is one of the most famous, and one of the most exclusive, in all of baseball.

The players who have gotten 3,000 hits in the Major Leagues are few and far between. They are legends of the game -- nearly all of the 31 members are Hall of Famers or soon-to-be Hall of Famers, or are locks for Cooperstown once they retire.

The 3,000-hit club is one of the most famous, and one of the most exclusive, in all of baseball.

The players who have gotten 3,000 hits in the Major Leagues are few and far between. They are legends of the game -- nearly all of the 31 members are Hall of Famers or soon-to-be Hall of Famers, or are locks for Cooperstown once they retire.

The club will soon expand to 32. Albert Pujols is on the cusp of 3,000 career hits, and could reach the milestone any day now.

MLB.com looks at each of the members of Major League Baseball's 3,000-hit club. Players are listed in chronological order of when they got their 3,000th hit, starting with the most recent. A list of the players ranked by their career hit totals is also included.

Adrian Beltre
3,000th hit: July 30, 2017 (Double)
Team: Rangers
Career hits: Active

The fan-favorite third baseman notched his 3,000th career hit in front of his family and home crowd -- with 32,437 fans in attendance at Globe Life Park in Arlington, as well as Beltre's wife and children. Beltre ripped a double down the third-base line for hit No. 3,000, becoming the first Dominican-born player to reach the milestone.

"I thought, 'This has to be it,'" Beltre said after the game. "'I don't want to have the fans waiting, my family is waiting for it. I don't want to drag it one more day.'" More >

Ichiro Suzuki
3,000th hit: Aug. 7, 2016 (Triple)
Team: Marlins
Career hits: Active

Ichiro didn't come to the Major Leagues until age 27, after nine years and 1,278 hits in Japan playing for Nippon Professional Baseball's Orix Blue Wave. But that didn't stop him from reaching one of MLB's most prestigious milestones. The seven-time Major League single-season hits leader collected his 3,000th with a towering triple off the right-field wall at Coors Field, becoming just the second player, after Paul Molitor, to join the 3,000-hit club with a triple. Only Cap Anson (45) and Rickey Henderson (42) were as old as Ichiro (42) when they got their 3,000th hits.

"More than the number 3,000 itself," Ichiro would say afterward, "when I saw the teammates come out and how happy they were and how warm the fans were -- it's not about just the 3,000 and what I did, it's about my teammates and my fans. That's powerful today." More >

Video: MIA@COL: Ichiro reflects on reaching 3,000 hits

Alex Rodriguez
3,000th hit: June 19, 2015 (Home Run)
Team: Yankees
Career hits: 3,115

With specially marked balls ready at Yankee Stadium and 44,588 fans ready to see history, Rodriguez stepped to the plate in the first inning and immediately delivered. A-Rod drove a 95-mph fastball from Justin Verlander into the right-field porch in the Bronx, reaching 3,000 hits with a home run. He was just the third player to do so, but the second in a row -- his fellow Yankee, Derek Jeter, had done the same in 2011.

"I'm grateful. I'm extremely appreciative to the Yankees giving me an opportunity to put the uniform back on," Rodriguez said, having returned from a season-long suspension in 2014. "There were days last year that I never thought I would sometimes get that uniform back on and to be able to play in this stadium in front of these fans. And for that I'm thankful to the Steinbrenner family and the whole Yankee organization." More >

Video: DET@NYY: A-Rod blasts a solo homer for hit No. 3,000

Derek Jeter
3,000th hit: July 9, 2011 (Home Run)
Team: Yankees
Career hits: 3,465

The Captain walked to the plate in the third inning at Yankee Stadium to chants of "Derek Jeter!" from the crowd of 48,103. The franchise icon had notched hit No. 2,999 in his first at-bat, and he wasted no time getting to 3,000. Jeter launched David Price's offering into the left-field bleachers to join the 3,000-hit club. It was his second of five hits in the game.

Jeter was the second player to join the club with a home run, after Wade Boggs in 1999. He was also the fourth-youngest at age 37, with only Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron and Robin Yount younger when they got their 3,000th hits. The only other 3,000-hit club members who spent most of their careers at shortstop were Yount, Cal Ripken Jr. and Honus Wagner.

Video: Must C Captain: Jeter goes deep for hit No. 3,000

Craig Biggio
3,000th hit: June 28, 2007 (Single)
Team: Astros
Career hits: 3,060

Biggio's 3,000th hit came in front of 42,537 fans at Minute Maid Park, in a game where the longtime Astros second baseman put on a show. Biggio racked up five hits in the game -- including No. 3,000, a game-tying single in the seventh inning of Houston's 11-inning victory over the Rockies. (Interestingly, Biggio was actually thrown out on the play, trying to stretch his single into a double.) He became the first player to reach 3,000 hits in a five-hit game. Jeter would later join him.

Video: COL@HOU: Biggio gets his 3,000th in five-hit night

Rafael Palmeiro
3,000th hit: July 15, 2005 (Double)
Team: Orioles
Career hits: 3,020

Palmeiro was an elite slugger for the Orioles in the 1990s, and he returned to Baltimore to wrap up his Major League career from 2004-05. In the summer of his final season, Palmeiro reached the 3,000-hit plateau with an RBI double against the Mariners in Seattle. Palmeiro, who also hit 569 home runs in his career, is one of five players with both 3,000 hits and 500 homers, along with A-Rod, Eddie Murray, Willie Mays and Aaron. Pujols will be the sixth.

"I was numb going around the bases," Palmeiro would say after the game. "I don't remember much."

Rickey Henderson
3,000th hit: Oct. 7, 2001 (Double)
Team: Padres
Career hits: 3,055

Henderson got No. 3,000 in the very last game of the season. Batting in his usual spot at the top of the order, Rickey led off the bottom of the first inning in San Diego with a bloop double on the very first pitch he saw. There was a huge crowd on hand at Qualcomm Stadium -- 60,103 fans -- because it was also the final game of Tony Gwynn's career. (Gwynn himself had been a member of the 3,000-hit club since 1999.) They got to see Henderson make history, too.

Video: COL@SD: Rickey collects his 3,000th career hit

Cal Ripken Jr.
3,000th hit: April 15, 2000 (Single)
Team: Orioles
Career hits: 3,184

Ripken had already cemented his legacy by playing in a record 2,632 consecutive games. But he added another milestone to his Hall of Fame career by joining the 3,000-hit club at the Metrodome in Minnesota. Ripken lined a single to center field for the milestone hit, and was met by Murray, the first-base coach, who was not just a member of the 3,000-hit club himself, but achieved the milestone at the Metrodome, too, in 1995.

"I was relieved; I felt a weight was lifted from my shoulders," Ripken said. "I thought about how lucky you are and how you started."

Video: BAL@MIN: Ripken collects his 3,000th career hit

Wade Boggs
3,000th hit: Aug. 7, 1999 (Home Run)
Team: Devil Rays
Career hits: 3,010

Boggs was the first to join the 3,000-hit club with a home run. He also was the final player to reach 3,000 hits before the turn of the millennium. As 39,512 fans looked on and cameras flashed in the stands at Tropicana Field, the five-time batting champion launched hit No. 3,000 into the right-field seats. Boggs just so happened to record his 3,000th hit on the night after Tony Gwynn had recorded his, making them the only two players to join the 3,000-hit club on back-to-back days.

Video: CLE@TB: Boggs' 3,000th career hit

Tony Gwynn
3,000th hit: Aug. 6, 1999 (Single)
Team: Padres
Career hits: 3,141

One of the great pure hitters of all time, Gwynn reached 3,000 hits a day before Boggs in Tampa Bay. The Padres legend got the big hit in Montreal, at Olympic Stadium, with a line drive to right-center field. That made him the first player to notch his 3,000th hit outside the United States. He was the third-fastest player to 3,000 hits, reaching the milestone in his 2,284th game.

"When you talk about 3,000 hits, you talk about passion and a love for the game," Gwynn said afterward. "I love playing the game."

Video: Gwynn homers in 1998 WS and reaches 3,000 hits

Paul Molitor
3,000th hit: Sept. 16, 1996 (Triple)
Team: Twins
Career hits: 3,319

Since joined by Ichiro, Molitor was the first player whose 3,000th hit was a triple. He reached the milestone at Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium, driving the hit deep into the right-center-field gap, just between the outfielders. It was Molitor's 211th hit of the season, en route to a league-leading total of 225.

"To just be engulfed by my teammates at third base, and seeing my family there, were very nice visual pictures I can hang on to," Molitor said after the game.

Video: MIN@KC: Paul Molitor reaches 3,000 hit milestone

Eddie Murray
3,000th hit: June 30, 1995 (Single)
Team: Indians
Career hits: 3,255

Like his fellow Orioles icon Ripken, Murray got his 3,000th hit at the Metrodome, reaching the mark with a ground-ball base hit to right field. He became just the second switch-hitter to join the 3,000-hit club, after MLB's hit king, Pete Rose. Murray's hit gave the Indians the last two players to reach 3,000, as teammate Dave Winfield had done so in 1993.

"It feels good to get it out of the way," Murray said after the game. "I hope things get back to normal. It'll be a lot better once I'm done playing. I never set 3,000 as a goal. I know there were people out there happier than I was. It's not what I was focused on."

Dave Winfield
3,000th hit: Sept. 16, 1993 (Single)
Team: Twins
Career hits: 3,110

Winfield's 3,000th hit was extra special because he did it for his hometown team. A St. Paul, Minn., native, Winfield didn't play for the Twins until the tail end of his career, but that was perfect timing for the fans to see him reach his milestone hit. Winfield got it with a ground-ball single through the left side of the infield in front of 14,654 fans at the Metrodome.

Video: LAA@MIN: Winfield collects his 3,000th career hit

George Brett
3,000th hit: Sept. 30, 1992 (Single)
Team: Royals
Career hits: 3,154

Brett's 3,000th hit was the last in a four-hit game in the closing days of the 1992 season. He lined a single up the middle off the Angels' Tim Fortugno at Anaheim Stadium to join the 3,000-hit club. Coincidentally, exactly 24 years after Brett recorded his 3,000th hit, another memorable Royals moment would take place. On Sept. 30, 2014, the Royals staged their remarkable comeback win over the A's in the American League Wild Card Game, with Brett watching from general manager Dayton Moore's suite.

Video: KC@CAL: Brett gets 3,000th hit, congratuated by team

Robin Yount
3,000th hit: Sept. 9, 1992 (Single)
Team: Brewers
Career hits: 3,142

There was a crowd of 47,589 on hand at Milwaukee's County Stadium to see the greatest player in franchise history get his 3,000th hit. It was the final game of the Brewers' homestand, and Yount was hitless in his first three at-bats, but he finally got the milestone in the seventh inning in front of the home crowd. When Yount lined a base hit over second base and into right-center field off the Indians' Jose Mesa, the fans erupted.

Video: CLE@MIL: Yount collects his 3,000th career hit

Rod Carew
3,000th hit: Aug. 4, 1985 (Single)
Team: Angels
Career hits: 3,053

Carew's 3,000th hit brought together the two fan bases he played his entire career in front of -- his second team, the Angels, was hosting his first team, the Twins, on a sunny afternoon at Anaheim Stadium. When Carew flared hit No. 3,000 into short left field and pulled into first base, he doffed his helmet to the crowd of 41,630, who gave him a standing ovation.

"I'm just very glad it's over," said the seven-time batting champion. "Now I can sleep at night. After so many years, it's a very emotional thing for me."

Video: MIN@LAA: Carew collects his 3,000th career hit

Carl Yastrzemski
3,000th hit: Sept. 12, 1979 (Single)
Team: Red Sox
Career hits: 3,419

Yastrzemski got his 3,000th hit just in time, in his last at-bat and in front of 34,337 Fenway faithful, before the Red Sox embarked on a long road trip. He'd been stuck on 2,999 for three days. But with a simple single through the right side of the infield, he reached the milestone 3,000. Yaz was met at first base by his son Carl Jr., teammates, coaches and fans.

"I know one thing," he said, addressing the crowd. "This was the hardest of the 3,000. I took so long because I enjoyed all those standing ovations you gave me the last three days."

Video: NYY@BOS: Yaz collects his 3,000th career hit

Lou Brock
3,000th hit: Aug. 13, 1979 (Single)
Team: Cardinals
Career hits: 3,023

Brock got his 3,000th hit in his final Major League season, in front of the St. Louis fans who'd been watching him for a decade and a half. There were 44,457 in attendance for the game against the Cubs when Brock got No. 3,000, a comebacker off pitcher Dennis Lamp. The scoreboard flashed "3,000" and Brock was greeted by his teammates at first base. He then saluted the crowd as it gave him a long ovation.

Video: CHC@STL: Lou Brock tallies 3,000th career hit

Pete Rose
3,000th hit: May 5, 1978 (Single)
Team: Reds
Career hits: 4,256

Charlie Hustle has more hits than any player in the history of Major League Baseball. He notched No. 3,000 and still had more than 1,000 hits left in him. Rose's 3,000th hit of his 4,256 in the Majors was a line-drive single to left field in front of 37,823 fans at Cincinnati's Riverfront Stadium. As Rose stood on first base after the hit, he was congratulated by the Expos' first baseman -- none other than Tony Perez, Rose's longtime teammate on the Big Red Machine.

Al Kaline
3,000th hit: Sept. 24, 1974 (Double)
Team: Tigers
Career hits: 3,007

The Tigers legend ripped an opposite-field double for his milestone hit near the end of the 1974 season, pulling into second as the scoreboard flashed his achievement. He didn't do it in his home stadium, but he did do it in his hometown of Baltimore, notching the hit off the Orioles' Dave McNally at Memorial Stadium. After Kaline's double, the next 3,000-hit club member to join with an extra-base hit would be Molitor, with eight singles in between.

Video: DET@BAL: Al Kaline gets his 3,000th hit

Roberto Clemente
3,000th hit: Sept. 30, 1972 (Double)
Team: Pirates
Career hits: 3,000

Clemente's final Major League hit was No. 3,000. One of the iconic figures in the history of the game, Clemente doubled against the Mets' Jon Matlack in the closing days of the 1972 season, at the Pirates' Three Rivers Stadium. Clemente would tragically die in a plane crash that winter while flying from his native Puerto Rico to Nicaragua to help earthquake victims there. But his legacy lives on.

Video: NYM@PIT: Clemente gets his 3,000th career hit

Willie Mays
3,000th hit: July 18, 1970 (Single)
Team: Giants
Career hits: 3,283

The "Say Hey Kid" became the first member of the 3,000-hit club to accomplish the feat on the West Coast when he smacked a single into left field against the Expos with 28,879 fans looking on at San Francisco's Candlestick Park. Mays' 3,000th hit came a little more than two months after Hank Aaron's, marking the third time two players had recorded career hit No. 3,000 in the same season. Mays is the only Giants player with 3,000 hits.

Video: MON@SF: Mays collects his 3,000th career hit

Hank Aaron
3,000th hit: May 17, 1970 (Single)
Team: Braves
Career hits: 3,771

Aaron was one of the most complete hitters to ever play the game. He of course ranks second all-time with 755 home runs, first in RBIs with 2,297 and third in hits with 3,771. His most famous milestone achievement was his 715th home run, which surpassed Babe Ruth for the MLB record until Barry Bonds, in turn, surpassed Aaron. But Hammerin' Hank's 3,000th hit was a big milestone, too. He did the honors with a single in the second game of a doubleheader at Cincinnati's Crosley Field. Stan Musial, the last player to enter the 3,000-hit club, was there to present Aaron with the ball.

"I always said the one thing that out of my 23 years I played baseball -- the thing I am most proud of -- I was able to get as many hits as I did," Aaron told the Cincinnati Enquirer in 2015. "The most important thing in my career out of the 23 years I played is I never struck out 100 times. Getting the base hits was the greatest thrill of my life."

Stan Musial
3,000th hit: May 13, 1958 (Double)
Team: Cardinals
Career hits: 3,630

"Stan The Man" got his 3,000th hit at Wrigley Field. At first, the Cardinals had planned to sit Musial, as they were about to return to Busch Stadium where he could achieve the milestone in front of his home crowd. But manager Fred Hutchinson decided to use Musial as a pinch-hitter, and Musial delivered a line-drive double to left field for hit No. 3,000. That makes him the only member of the 3,000-hit club to join it with a pinch-hit.

"It was a curveball. I was just trying to meet the ball," Musial said after the game. "He had two strikes on me, and I was just trying to meet the ball and get a hit there somewhere."

Video: STL@CHC: Stan Musial records his 3,000th hit

Paul Waner
3,000th hit: June 19, 1942 (Single)
Team: Braves
Career hits: 3,152

Waner was the first National Leaguer to enter the 3,000-hit club since Honus Wagner in 1914, with four American Leaguers joining in between. He accomplished the feat against his longtime club, the Pirates, with whom he had starred for the first 15 seasons of his career. As Waner collected his 3,000th hit off former teammate Rip Sewell, the eventual next member of the 3,000-hit club was just beginning his Major League career -- 1942 was Musial's first full season.

Video: PIT Retired Number: No. 11, Paul Waner

Eddie Collins
3,000th hit: June 3, 1925 (Single)
Team: White Sox
Career hits: 3,314

The day Collins got his 3,000th hit for the White Sox, it just so happened that the opposing team was the Tigers, and the center fielder was Ty Cobb, one of the two active 3,000-hit club members along with Tris Speaker. Collins singled off Detroit's Rip Collins at Navin Field in Detroit to become the third. It was the first time a 3,000-hit club member was on the field when another joined.

Tris Speaker
3,000th hit: May 17, 1925 (Single)
Team: Indians
Career hits: 3,515

Just over a decade after Nap Lajoie accomplished the feat, Speaker, another Indians great, notched his 3,000th hit. Speaker had come to Cleveland two seasons after Lajoie left, and he won the Triple Crown in his first year with the Indians. He was in his 10th season with the team when he got hit No. 3,000, a single off the Washington Senators' Tom Zachary at Dunn Field before a listed crowd of 20,000.

Ty Cobb
3,000th hit: Aug. 19, 1921 (Single)
Team: Tigers
Career hits: 4,191

Cobb, a true legend of the game, was the first member of the 4,000-hit club -- a group that has a membership of just two: Cobb and Rose. The all-time batting-average leader with a .366 career mark, Cobb was already approaching his 3,000th hit in his age-34 season. He got it with a single in the second game of a doubleheader against the Red Sox, just two weeks after the first-ever radio broadcast of an MLB game. Cobb is the youngest player to reach 3,000th hits.

Video: MLB Tonight looks at Ty Cobb's incredible swing

Nap Lajoie
3,000th hit: Sept. 27, 1914 (Double)
Team: Indians
Career hits: 3,252

Lajoie was the second of two Hall of Famers to reach 3,000 hits in 1914, with Honus Wagner being the first. The longtime face of the Indians franchise -- the team was actually renamed the Naps while Lajoie played there because of his popularity -- was in what would be his last season with Cleveland. The two-time Triple Crown winner got his 3,000th hit in a doubleheader against the Yankees, knocking a double off Marty McHale. He was the first American Leaguer in the 3,000-hit club.

Honus Wagner
3,000th hit: June 9, 1914 (Double)
Team: Pirates
Career hits: 3,430

The legendary shortstop collected his 3,000th hit more than a century ago, but even then 3,000 hits was a milestone. In fact, Wagner told The Pittsburgh Press just after he got his hit against the Phillies: "Well, I'm glad that's over. Now, maybe I can get a hit once in a while. Sometimes I believe too much newspaper talk hurts a fellow, that it acts as a sort of jinx. I never tried harder in my life than I did in the series at Philadelphia, and what did I do? I didn't get a hit in two games and then in the next two I got a couple, one for each game. That's no hitting at all."

Video: PIT Retired Number: No. 33, Honus Wagner

Cap Anson
3,000th hit: July 18, 1897 (Single)
Team: Cubs
Career hits: 3,011

The first member of the 3,000-hit club, Anson had the milestone under his belt before the modern era began. The Hall of Famer, a four-time batting champion and eight-time RBI leader who played most of his career for the Cubs franchise -- before it even became the Cubs -- knocked a single for No. 3,000 in his final Major League season, at age 45.

David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.