Milestones that might be reached this year

April 6th, 2022

Last year, we saw Max Scherzer reach 3,000 strikeouts and Miguel Cabrera notch 500 home runs, among various career milestones. With each new baseball season, there are always more career achievements to look out for -- and 2022 is no exception to that rule.

Here is a look at some major milestones on the horizon for 2022 and beyond, along with a breakdown of each player’s chances of getting there this year.

Miguel Cabrera: 3,000 hits

This milestone was on the list for Cabrera last year, too, when he joined the 500 home run club. He had 121 hits last year, bringing him to 2,987 for his career. His impressive resume already includes a Triple Crown, two MVP awards, 500 home runs and 11 All-Star selections, not to mention a World Series title in 2003 with the Marlins. But 3,000 hits would put him into even further rarefied air. There are 32 members of the 3,000 hit club and 28 individuals with 500 home runs. Only six players check both boxes: Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols, Rafael Palmeiro, Eddie Murray, Willie Mays and Henry Aaron. Cabrera will be the seventh.

Will it happen?

Not only should Cabrera reach this, barring an early-season injury, but it should happen early in the season, too. He needs just 13 hits to get there, and has played in just one April where he had fewer than 13 hits in his career. That was in 2021, when he had six hits in 13 games.

Albert Pujols: ninth all-time in hits, third in total bases and extra-base hits, 700 HR

Pujols is, like last year, approaching the top 10 all-time in hits and top threes for total bases and extra-base hits. He enters the year 11th in hits, with 3,301. Here’s the top 10, according to the Elias Sports Bureau:

  1. Pete Rose: 4,256
  2. Ty Cobb: 4,192
  3. Henry Aaron: 3,771
  4. Stan Musial: 3,630
  5. Tris Speaker: 3,514
  6. Derek Jeter: 3,465
  7. Honus Wagner: 3,430
  8. Carl Yastrzemski: 3,419
  9. Paul Molitor: 3,319
  10. Eddie Collins: 3,313

Pujols enters the year with 6,042 career total bases, trailing only Willie Mays (6,066), Stan Musial (6,134) and Henry Aaron (6,856). And he has 1,367 career extra-base hits, fourth behind only Musial (1,377), Bonds (1,440) and Aaron (1,477). The context here needs very little parsing: an all-time great can continue to climb some noteworthy lists.

And then there are the homers. Pujols has 679, with Alex Rodriguez’s 696 on the horizon, and the rarefied air of 700 homers just beyond it.

Will it happen?

Almost all of these seem within reach for Pujols in 2022. He needs 19 hits to vault from 11th all-time to ninth, passing Molitor. As noted above, passing Yastrzemski would take another 100 hits -- so that eighth-place mark is more of a stretch. ZiPS projects Pujols for 71 hits in '22.

Those total bases and extra-base hit milestones seem very reachable as well. Pujols had 119 total bases last year, and he’s 39 shy of passing Mays on the list, and 93 shy of passing Musial for second. Depending on his playing time, second could be realistic, too. He’s 11 extra-base hits shy of passing Musial there, and projected for 21. As for the homers, he’s projected for 13, which would give him 692 – still trailing Rodriguez and the big 700.

Clayton Kershaw: Dodgers’ all-time strikeout leader

Kershaw is very close to Don Sutton’s Dodgers franchise record for strikeouts, and likely would have gotten there in 2021 if not for injury. Now, having re-signed with the Dodgers in free agency instead of playing elsewhere, he gets his chance. Sutton notched 2,696 during his time in Dodger Blue. Kershaw enters the year at 2,670. The only active pitcher who is his team’s franchise strikeout leader is Stephen Strasburg, at 1,718, more than anyone else in a Nationals or Expos uniform.

Will it happen?

Kershaw is 27 strikeouts shy of passing Sutton. This one doesn’t require much math or prediction. Just health. Kershaw had 31 strikeouts in his first five starts combined last year, and that included an Opening Day start with just two strikeouts. This should fall early in the season.

Adam Wainwright & Yadier Molina: most games as battery, plus more for Yadi

It’s the dynamic duo that’s been together for what seems like ever. Last year, Wainwright and Molina reached a round-number milestone with their 300th game as a starting battery. But the real prize is the top of the list: Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan’s 324 games as a starting battery.

Most common regular-season starting batteries since 1900, per Elias:

Mickey Lolich-Bill Freehan: 324
Warren Spahn-Del Crandall: 316
Red Faber-Ray Schalk: 306
Adam Wainwright-Yadier Molina: 304

Molina’s workload on its own is of note, too. He’s currently caught 2,107 career games, which ranks fourth, 120 shy of passing Carlton Fisk and Bob Boone to reach second all-time behind Iván Rodríguez.

Will it happen?

Both the duo record and the solo placement for Molina seem doable. Wainwright made 32 starts last year and Molina caught 30 of them. And they’re just 21 starts shy of passing Lolich and Freehan. Molina caught 118 games last year – very close to the 120 he’d need to pass Fisk and Boone, or the 119 to pass just Boone.

Juan Soto and Shohei Ohtani: 100 career home runs and beyond

One is a 23-year-old phenom and one is a 27-year-old one-of-a-kind player. Other than a first-round matchup in the 2021 Home Run Derby and a love of the game, here’s another thing they have in common: both are approaching 100 career home runs.

Soto has 98 career home runs, fourth-most by a player before turning 23 – and who knows where he might’ve been on the list if not for the 60-game 2020 season. Looking ahead to this year, 133 career homers would be one ahead of Ken Griffey Jr. for most before turning 24. One hundred is a great round number, but the sky's the limit for this season and beyond for the best hitter in baseball.

Similarly for Ohtani, 100 is simply a quick pit stop en route to further intriguing milestones. He’s third among Japanese-born players with 93 career homers, trailing Ichiro Suzuki (117) and Hideki Matsui (175).

Will it happen?

Soto is two away, Ohtani is seven. Barring bad health news, these should happen very early. As for Soto and the third-most before turning 24, ZiPS has him at 35 – which would, incredibly, give him 133 on the dot, one ahead of Griffey. Mel Ott and Eddie Mathews lead that list, by the way, with 153 each. Ohtani is projected for 38 homers, which would give him 131, solidly into second place, past Ichiro and trailing Matsui.