The top milestones we saw in 2022
Every season is another chance for MLB’s inordinately talented players to show us all what they can accomplish. Entering the year, it’s always fun to anticipate which career milestones might be reached or surpassed in the upcoming round of 162 games. But over the course of the season, there are also single-season marks broken that we wouldn’t have even seen coming.
Here’s a look back at nine individuals who reached milestones in the 2022 season.
Albert Pujols: 703 HR, ninth all-time in hits, second in total bases and third in extra-base hits
We knew entering the year that Pujols would keep us on milestone watch all summer. He had 679 home runs, and the main question was whether he’d pass Alex Rodriguez’s 696 for fourth on the list, or perhaps reach the rarefied 700 mark. He did so – and then some, hitting Nos. 699 and 700 in the same game on Sept. 23 at Dodger Stadium and finishing with 703 homers on his ledger, fourth all–time. He also moved up from 11th to ninth all-time in hits with 3,384, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Pujols finished his career with 6,211 total bases, second to only Henry Aaron (6,856) after entering the year in fifth. And he moved up from fourth to third in extra-base hits (1,405).
Miguel Cabrera: 3,000 hits
Sticking with the aforementioned hits list, Cabrera needed just 13 knocks to reach the 3,000-hit club, and he got there on April 23. He became just the 33rd member of the exclusive group. Having become the 28th individual with 500 home runs in ‘21, Cabrera joined another small list by accomplishing both feats. He’s just the seventh player with 3,000 hits and 500 homers, along with Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols, Rafael Palmeiro, Eddie Murray, Willie Mays and Henry Aaron.
Adam Wainwright & Yadier Molina: most starts as battery
The Cardinals' dynamic duo entered the season with 304 starts as pitcher and catcher, the fourth-most common regular-season starting battery since 1900. Wainwright made 32 starts in 2022 and Molina caught 24 of them. Along the way, they passed Red Faber and Ray Schalk (306 starts), Warren Spahn and Del Crandall (316 starts), and finally Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan (324 starts) on Sept. 14. The two ended ‘22 with 328 total starts together – setting a high bar for any future pitcher/catcher duos that might dare challenge the St. Louis legends.
Clayton Kershaw: Dodgers’ all-time strikeout leader
File under: things in baseball that just make sense. Kershaw entered ‘22 just 27 strikeouts shy of passing Don Sutton’s 2,696 for most in Dodgers franchise history. Kershaw recorded his 2,697th on April 30 against the Tigers and finished the year with 2,807 strikeouts. He's back for more with Los Angeles in ‘23, which will only push that mark higher for any current and future Dodgers pitchers vying to climb the list.
Aaron Judge: AL single-season home run record
This is one of those that we didn’t plan ahead for entering the year. It’s something that will always be on Judge’s career resume moving forward, but unlike the other milestones mentioned thus far, it’s a single-season mark, as opposed to a career, cumulative one. Judge finished with 62 homers on the season, breaking Roger Maris’ American League record of 61 home runs – from 1961, and Judge did so 61 years later. He became just the 10th player with multiple seasons with at least 50 home runs – and the only active name on the list.
Shohei Ohtani: 30 homers and 200 strikeouts
We can’t talk about milestones and feats without discussing Ohtani, who crushed 34 homers to accompany a career-high 219 strikeouts as a pitcher. He became the first player with at least 30 home runs at the plate and 200 strikeouts on the mound in a season. The prior most homers in a 200-pitching-strikeout season was seven, by Earl Wilson (1966), Don Drysdale (‘65) and Jack Stivetts (1890 and ‘91). The prior most strikeouts as a pitcher in a 30-homer season was 156, by Ohtani in ‘21. Before that? Three, by Babe Ruth in 1930 and ‘21.
Julio Rodríguez: fastest to 15 homers & 20 stolen bases; 25-25 in debut season
On July 4, Rodríguez hit his 15th home run in his 81st career game. He’d already reached 20 stolen bases, meaning that the homer made him the fastest player by games to 15 and 20 for his career. On Sept. 14, he swiped his 25th bag and hit his 26th homer, becoming the third rookie with a 25-25 season, joining Mike Trout (2012) and Chris Young (‘07). But unlike those two rookies, who had debuted a year prior, Rodríguez was in his first MLB season. He’s the only player with 25 homers and 25 stolen bases in his first season.
Gerrit Cole: Yankees’ single-season strikeout record
This mark seemed destined to fall at some point once Cole joined the Yankees. In 2021, he struck out 243 batters, at the time the second-most in a season in franchise history behind Ron Guidry’s 248 in 1978. Cole set the record in ‘22, putting the mark at 257. Having a franchise’s single-season record for strikeouts was a familiar spot for Cole, who set the same for the Astros in ‘19, at 326. He’s one of just five pitchers who currently hold the single-season strikeout record for multiple current franchises, along with Pedro Martínez (Expos/Nats, Red Sox), Nolan Ryan (Rangers, Angels), Randy Johnson (Mariners, Diamondbacks) and Rube Waddell (A's, Browns/Orioles).