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50 ways to plan for a super MLB season

February 6, 2016

With a tip of the cap to Super Bowl 50, here's a checklist of 50 things to ponder, plan for, debate, celebrate and track during the 2016 baseball season. Some are on the calendar, some are almost givens, and others hopefully offer a reasonable balance between heart and head. But

With a tip of the cap to Super Bowl 50, here's a checklist of 50 things to ponder, plan for, debate, celebrate and track during the 2016 baseball season. Some are on the calendar, some are almost givens, and others hopefully offer a reasonable balance between heart and head. But if any day is about high expectations and hype, it's this one. So on with the show.
1. Ichiro Suzuki's 3,000th hit (he's at 2,935).
2. Albert Pujols and David Ortiz double up the 500-homer, 600-double club (Barry Bonds and Hank Aaron are the only two in it). Pujols needs 17 doubles to enter the club, Ortiz needs 16.

  1. Alex Rodriguez's 700th home run (he's at 687).
    4. Miguel Cabrera's 500th double (he's at 492).
    5. Switch-hitters/teammates Carlos Beltran (392 homers) and Mark Teixeira (394) join the 400-homer club. Only three other switch-hitters -- Mickey Mantle, Eddie Murray and Chipper Jones -- have reached that plateau.
    6. A.J. Pierzynski's 2,000th hit. He's at 1,989, and just eight players who played 50 percent of their career games as catcher have reached 2,000.
    7. Pujols becomes the 20th player with 5,000 total bases (he's at 4,961).
    8. Felix Hernandez becomes the Mariners' all-time leader in wins and strikeouts.
    9. Evan Longoria assumes the Rays' all-time lead in games played.
    10. Yadier Molina becomes the Cardinals' all-time leader in games caught.
    11. Clayton Kershaw joins Don Sutton, Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax as the only Dodgers to strike out 2,000 batters. He needs 254 K's and has averaged 257 over the last three seasons.

12. Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard each fan 200 batters -- just three teams have ever seen a trio do this.
13. Corey Kluber, Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco each fan 200 batters. See above.
14. Giancarlo Stanton reaches 40 homers for the first time in his career.
15. Jose Abreu assembles a third straight 30-double, 30-homer, 100-RBI campaign.
16. A 200-hit, 40-double, 40-stolen-base season for A.J. Pollock (four full-time center fielders have done this).
17. Darren O'Day posts a third straight sub-1.00 WHIP, sub-2.00 ERA line.

It's in play
18. Pierzynski moves into sixth place all-time in games caught (he needs 78).
19. Bruce Bochy captures a fourth World Series title (five managers have that many).
20. David Wright becomes the Mets' all-time leader in homers (he needs 18 to pass Darryl Strawberry).
21. Kershaw produces his third career sub-2.00 ERA season (the last pitcher with three was Koufax).
22. A fifth batting title for Cabrera (nine players have that many).
23. A fifth ERA title for Kershaw (seven pitchers have that many).
24. Nolan Arenado makes it 4-for-4 for Gold Glove seasons (only Ichiro Suzuki has begun a career with a Gold Glove in each of his first four seasons).

  1. A third straight pennant for the Royals. Since 1969, only the Orioles, Athletics (twice) and Yankees (twice) have done this.
    26. Chris Davis makes it four straight years an Oriole has won the home run crown. Davis led in 2013 and '15, Nelson Cruz in '14.
    27. Bochy moves into second place all-time in wins for Giants managers (he needs 90 to pass both Bill Terry and Dusty Baker and would trail only John McGraw).

Hey, why not?
28. A 100-win season for the Cubs (the team's last was in 1935).
29. A pitcher makes a run at 25 wins (the last 25-game winner was Bob Welch in 1990).
30. A baserunner (Billy Hamilton?) challenges 80 steals. No one has reached 80 stolen bases since 1988, when Rickey Henderson (93) and Vince Coleman (81) did it.
31. Cubs sophomores Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber record 30-homer seasons.
32. Phil Hughes has more wins than walks. He had 16 wins and 16 walks in 2014, while last season he had 11 wins and 16 walks.
33. A Padres no-hitter (they are the only current franchise without one).
34. The Giants continue their even-year flag-raising ways (World Series titles in 2010, '12, '14).
35. A third straight All-Star MVP for Mike Trout (no one has won three total).
36. Bryce Harper challenges for a Triple Crown. He was first in the National League in homers, second in batting average and fifth in RBIs in 2015. The last NL player to win the Triple Crown was Ducky Medwick in 1937.

  1. An MVP for a Red Sox player (Boston is the only franchise to have an MVP in every decade since the 1930s -- they are 0-for-6 this decade).
    39. Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman become the first relief trio of teammates to each have 100 K's.
    40. Chris Sale reaches 300 strikeouts.
    41. A-Rod becomes the fourth player with 6,000 total bases.
    42. In his age-21 season, Carlos Correa challenges the 40-homer plateau (the most by any shortstop in an age-21 or younger season is 36, by A-Rod in 1996).
    43. An eighth Opening Day start for Justin Verlander (moving him past Mickey Lolich for the third most in Tigers history).
    44. A third 20-win season for Adam Wainwright (Bob Gibson is the last Cards pitcher with at least three).
    45. Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte give the Pirates a pair of 20-homer, 20-stolen base outfielders for the first time since 1987 (Bonds and Andy Van Slyke).

Mark it down
46. An Opening Day rematch of the previous World Series (an MLB first).
47. Mike Piazza's jersey retirement by the Mets.
48. Ken Griffey Jr.'s number retirement by the Mariners.
49. Ortiz's farewell campaign celebrated across MLB.
50. Vin Scully's planned final broadcast, though we always hope he'll stick around.

**Roger Schlueter** is a columnist for