While some teams are focused on making a postseason push and others perhaps already have an eye toward the future, every club has at least one milestone to keep an eye on down the stretch.
Below is a look at the top milestone -- either for a team or one of its players -- that is within reach over the final six and a half weeks of the 2021 season.
All stats entering Wednesday's slate of games unless otherwise noted
Blue Jays: Vlad’s chase for 50
It’s a lofty goal for Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to take a run at Jose Bautista’s franchise record of 54 home runs set back in 2010, but the young superstar, who is sitting at 35 homers, still has a shot at 50. George Bell’s 47 (1987) rank second in franchise history behind Bautista, so while Guerrero may not rewrite Toronto's record book this season, he’ll be near the top in nearly every category. Things could get really interesting down the stretch, too, if Guerrero and Shohei Ohtani battle it out for the home run crown.
Orioles: Mullins’ quest to join 30-30 club
Cedric Mullins recently became the seventh Oriole to reach the 20-homer, 20-stolen base plateau, while also joining Fernando Tatis Jr. as the only players in the 20-20 club so far this season. No Oriole has ever gone 30-30, and only 40 big leaguers have compiled that many homers and stolen bases in a single season in AL/NL history. Can Mullins join those ranks? Entering Wednesday, he’d need 10 homers and eight steals over the Orioles’ last 43 games -- difficult and significant, but not impossible. The last big leaguers to go 30-30 were Christian Yelich (44 home runs, 30 stolen bases) and Ronald Acuña Jr. (41 homers, 37 steals) in 2019.
Rays: Cruz’s climb up the all-time home run leaderboard
Nelson Cruz, the 41-year-old slugger showing no signs of slowing down in his pursuit of a World Series with the Rays, is in range of two notable names on the all-time home run leaderboard. He entered Wednesday with 442 career homers, tied with Dave Kingman for 42nd on the all-time list. If he were to hit eight more this season, reaching the 450 mark, he’d claim sole possession of 40th on the list by passing Hall of Famers Jeff Bagwell and Vladimir Guerrero. That would also put Cruz within one more 30-homer season of passing iconic Hall of Famers Willie Stargell, Stan Musial and Chipper Jones, among others. Cruz averaged 41 per season from 2015-19, so that hardly seems out of reach.
Red Sox: Bogaerts chasing Doerr
There is a very small list of Red Sox position players who have been more productive in their 20s than Xander Bogaerts. The shortstop, who turns 30 on Oct. 1, had 418 career extra-base hits entering Wednesday. That puts Bogaerts in good position to pass Bobby Doerr (428) for fourth on the team’s all-time list for players in their 20s. To keep in perspective the kind of company Bogaerts is keeping, these are the only other Red Sox players who had more extra-base hits in their 20s prior to Bogaerts: Carl Yastrzemski (471), Ted Williams (462) and Jim Rice (458). Yaz, Williams, Rice and Doerr are Hall of Famers. Bogaerts should also be a Hall of Famer one day if he can be as good in his 30s as he’s been in his 20s.
Yankees: Chapman's 300th save
The man who owns the hardest fastball in the Statcast era sits just one save away from 300 for his career -- a milestone that has been achieved by only 30 other pitchers in Major League history, most recently by Kenley Jansen of the Dodgers. Of Chapman’s 299 career saves, 137 have come with the Yankees (146 with Reds, 16 with Cubs).
Indians: Karinchak’s pursuit of 100 strikeouts
Only three Indians hurlers who made all their appearances in relief have reached triple-digit strikeouts in a single season, and James Karinchak has a chance at becoming the fourth. With 43 games remaining in the regular season, the 25-year-old right-hander has 75 strikeouts in 52 2/3 frames. Karinchak will need to get back into his 2020 strikeout groove to reach the century mark, but if he does reach 100 strikeouts, he’ll join Sid Monge (108 K's in 1979), Dave LaRoche (104 K's in '76) and Paul Shuey (103 K's in '99) as the only relievers to do so in club history.
Royals: Perez seeks franchise single-season home run record
This might be a long shot because Salvador Perez, who just hit his 30th homer on Sunday, is on pace for 41 home runs right now. The Royals’ record is 48, set by Jorge Soler in 2019. But with the way Perez has hit this season, who’s to say he can’t go on a tear and either match or pass Soler’s record? Perez’s 30 home runs are already three more than his single-season best of 27 set in 2017 and ‘18, and he’s one of five players in the Majors this season with 30, joining Matt Olson, Fernando Tatis Jr., Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Shohei Ohtani. Perez has hit 20 home runs as a catcher and 10 as the designated hitter this season, and with 43 games remaining, he is four shy of his own franchise record for homers as a catcher, set in 2017, when he hit 24 from behind the plate.
Tigers: Miggy eyes 3,000-hit club
Once Miguel Cabrera joins the 500-homer club, his next quest will be to become the seventh player in Major League history with 500 home runs and 3,000 hits -- a list that includes Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Albert Pujols, Eddie Murray, Rafael Palmeiro and Alex Rodriguez. Cabrera would need to average just over a hit per game to get there this season.
Twins: Most pitchers used in club history
Considering the Twins have only four pitchers from their Opening Day staff currently on their roster, it should come as no surprise that the club is rapidly approaching its record for most pitchers used in a season. The 2021 Twins have already moved into fourth on their franchise list with 30 hurlers having taken the mound this season, and it appears likely that they’ll soon pass the mark of 31 set by the ‘19 club. Next will come the ‘18 Twins, who used 34 pitchers, and finally, the club record of 36, set by the ‘17 team.
White Sox: Hendriks’ triple-digit strikeout quest
In signing free agent Liam Hendriks during the offseason, the White Sox added a closer with wipeout potential for the ninth inning. Hendriks has proven that fact on the field this season with 85 strikeouts against just six walks in 51 innings. He’s on pace to strike out 116, which would be the third-highest single-season total by a reliever in White Sox history. It also would represent the first White Sox reliever to strike out 100-plus in a season since Keith Foulke recorded 123 in 1999. Hendriks struck out 124 over 85 innings and 75 games pitched in 2019 for the A’s.
Angels: Ohtani’s pursuit of franchise home run record
Shohei Ohtani has been incredible this season and entered Thursday with a Major League-leading 40 homers. The club record of 47 homers -- set by Troy Glaus in 2000 -- is well within reach for Ohtani. It would be quite the accomplishment for the two-way star, who is the frontrunner for AL MVP having also pitched like an ace on the mound.
Astros: Brantley has shot at first batting title
Michael Brantley has long been considered one of the best hitters in the game, but he’s never won a batting title. That could change this year. He entered play Wednesday leading the AL with a .328 batting average, which was well ahead of Toronto's Teoscar Hernández, who was second at .317. Brantley has finished in the top 10 five times, including third in 2014 (.327) and fourth in '15 (.310). Jose Altuve is the only Astros player to win a batting title (2014, 2016-17).
Athletics: Marte stealing his way to stolen base title
The A’s haven’t had a player lead the Majors in stolen bases since Rickey Henderson swiped 66 bags in 1998. Of course, Starling Marte accomplishing this feat would come with a caveat -- his first 22 stolen bases came as a member of the Marlins. Entering Wednesday, Marte was second in the Majors with 33 stolen bases. In just 17 games since joining the A’s via trade on July 28, he’s already halfway to his total with the Marlins by going 11-for-11 in stolen base attempts. Marte’s main competition appears to be Kansas City’s Whit Merrifield, who entered Wednesday slightly ahead of him with 34 stolen bases.
Mariners: Haniger goes for career-high 27th homer
This might not sound all that significant, but given the context of the three surgeries from which the former All-Star has battled back, it’s huge for the 30-year-old Mitch Haniger, who has reestablished himself as one of the American League’s top power-hitting outfielders. Haniger has already tied his 2018 high with 26 deep flies, so his next homer will send him to a new personal milestone. And he very well could lead the Mariners in that category this season, unless third baseman Kyle Seager, who also has 26, were to pass him.
Rangers: García goes for club rookie HR record
Texas rookie outfielder Adolis García launched his 26th homer of the year in the Rangers’ win over the A’s on Sunday. That’s tied for the second-most by a rookie in club history (since relocating to Arlington in 1972) with Mark Teixeira in 2003. Pete Incaviglia’s 1986 rookie season featured 30 home runs. With a little more than a month left in the season, it stands to reason that García could reach Incaviglia’s mark barring any unforeseen circumstances. Another rookie record in reach for García is RBIs. Entering Wednesday, his 70 RBIs ranked fourth among Texas rookies, trailing Incaviglia (88), Teixeira (84) and David Murphy (74 in 2008).
Braves: Historically homer-happy infield
The Braves will most likely join the 2008 Marlins as the only teams to ever have four infielders hit at least 25 homers in a season. Freddie Freeman and Austin Riley have each exceeded the mark. Dansby Swanson entered Wednesday with 24 homers and Ozzie Albies had 22. Freeman is the only member of this group to previously have a 30-homer season, but there’s a chance each of Atlanta’s infielders will end up enjoying a 30-homer campaign.
Marlins: Aguilar goes for club and personal history
Jesús Aguilar is seven homers shy of 100 in his eight-year Major League career. He paces the Marlins with 22 on the season, which is the most he has hit since his All-Star campaign in 2018 when he belted 35. The 31-year-old also hopes to join Giancarlo Stanton as the only players in franchise history to finish as the NL RBI leader. He has been in the top spot for the majority of the season.
Mets: Alonso eyes century mark
Pete Alonso will likely join the 100-homer club at some point this season, but just how quickly he gets there could prove to be historic. He entered Thursday with 95 home runs in 328 career games. He can't become the fastest to reach the 100-homer mark -- Ryan Howard holds that honor by doing so in just 325 games -- but if Alonso can hit five homers over the next 26 games, he would check in as the second-fastest to reach the 100-homer club. Gary Sánchez is currently No. 2 on that list, having hit his 100th home run in his 355th career game.
Nationals: Soto chasing 100th career home run
Juan Soto could reach triple digits in home runs this year, only his fourth season in the Major Leagues. He is only 12 homers away from reaching the mark. After hitting 11 dingers in 79 games the first half of this season, Soto picked up momentum, with eight home runs in 28 games since the All-Star break.
Phillies: Harper’s MVP push
Bryce Harper is making a late push into the NL MVP conversation. He could get there with a strong finish. Harper entered Wednesday slashing .297/.415/.574. The last two Phillies to finish a season with a .300/.400/.500 slash line (minimum 500 plate appearances) were Chase Utley in 2007 (.332/.410/.566) and Ryan Howard in '06 (.313/.425/.659). Utley missed a month in '07 because of a broken hand, but he still finished third in the NL in WAR (7.8) and eighth in NL MVP voting. Howard won the NL MVP Award in 2006. Harper also entered the week with a 167 OPS+. The last two Phillies to finish a season with a 167 OPS+ or better won the NL MVP: Howard in 2006 (167 OPS+) and Mike Schmidt in 1981 (198 OPS+) and 1980 (171 OPS+).
Brewers: Star pitching trio eyes club’s first ERA title
The Brewers have had two pitchers come close to winning a league ERA title: big righty Jeff D’Amico in 2000 and Corbin Burnes in '20. D’Amico’s shot came Sept. 28, 2000, in the final game at County Stadium, when he pitched with a tightly wrapped left ankle that he’d injured days earlier taking one last slide down Bernie Brewer’s slide with Geoff Jenkins, Richie Sexson and Jeromy Burnitz. D’Amico lost his bid by allowing 10 hits and six earned runs in six innings of an 8-1 loss to the Reds. Twenty years later, Burnes went into his final start in ‘20 with a 1.77 ERA, just behind then-Reds starter Trevor Bauer’s 1.73. But Burnes, too, was bitten by injury. He suffered a strained oblique in that outing against the Cardinals and finished one out shy of the innings needed to qualify -- one inning per team game. This year, all three of the Brewers’ top starters -- Burnes, Freddy Peralta and Brandon Woodruff -- have a chance. As of Wednesday afternoon, Walker Buehler led the National League (and the Majors) with a 2.09 ERA, followed by Burnes at 2.13 and Woodruff at 2.18 entering his scheduled start against the Cardinals on Thursday night. Peralta was at 2.26 and was two-thirds of an inning from rejoining the list of qualifiers going into his scheduled start on Wednesday.
Cardinals: Wainwright and Molina moving up all-time list
Tigers greats Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan are alone atop the list of all-time pitcher-catcher batteries at 324 starts together. Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina, at 297, won’t catch them this season, but they are just nine starts behind Red Faber and Roy Schalk for third. Already with 23 starts together this season, time may be short for even third place. But 300 -- that’s assuredly going to be chased down barring unforeseen circumstances. Might they return for one more year and the all-time record?
Cubs: Hendricks eyes 1,000th career strikeout
Kyle Hendricks is known more for precision than power, but his longevity as a member of the Cubs’ rotation has him steadily climbing the franchise’s all-time strikeouts list. In his last outing, "The Professor" struck out three to reach 989 career strikeouts, which put him into 13th place on the club’s career chart (one above Ken Holtzman’s 988). With 11 more strikeouts, Hendricks will become the 13th member of the 1,000-K club in Cubs history. Fergie Jenkins leads the list with 2,038 career punchouts for the North Siders. It is worth noting that Hendricks’ .610 career winning percentage (83-53 record) trails only Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown (.686) and Larry Corcoran (.673) among the 13 players with at least 1,000 career K’s for the Cubs.
Pirates: Reynolds’ pursuit of hits crown
There are very few positive milestones the Pirates are reaching for this season. Most of them belong to Bryan Reynolds, who, at 131 hits, trails former teammate Adam Frazier (144) for the MLB lead. It may be unlikely that Reynolds will catch Frazier, but the former has already shown a flash of offensive dominance earlier this season. He’s also not far from the lead in OBP (.390 vs. Juan Soto’s .439) and NL fWAR (4.4 vs. Fernando Tatis Jr.’s 5.0).
Reds: India’s quest to win OBP title
Second baseman Jonathan India is aiming to be just the third rookie in AL/NL history to lead his league in on-base percentage. Only Cleveland’s Joe Jackson (1911) and Cincinnati’s Cuckoo Christensen (1926) have previously done it. India has a .390 OBP this season, which is ranked seventh in the NL. Meanwhile, he is aiming to become the eighth Reds player -- and the first since 1999 -- to win NL Rookie of the Year honors. The last Cincinnati second baseman to claim that trophy was Pete Rose in 1963.
D-backs: Bumgarner climbing strikeouts list
Bumgarner is not known as a strikeout pitcher, but he continues to climb the career strikeouts list, having recently passed Jerry Reuss to move into 102nd place. With 1,912 career strikeouts already in the books and another six weeks left in the season, Bumgarner should easily be able to slip into the top 100 by passing Hideo Nomo (1,918 strikeouts) and Tom Gordon (1,928).
Dodgers: Scherzer goes for 3,000 strikeouts
Scherzer did most of his damage with other organizations, but the future Hall of Famer will likely reach the exclusive 3,000-strikeout club as a member of the Dodgers. Scherzer has a handful of starts to rack up 46 strikeouts.
Giants: Single-season home run record
After years of power-starved lineups, the Giants have flipped the script and forged a new offensive identity. They entered Wednesday leading the Majors with 181 home runs, two ahead of the Blue Jays, putting them on pace to shatter their single-season franchise home run record of 235, which was set in 2001. Barry Bonds hit a record 73 homers that year, but the '21 Giants have been getting power from virtually every corner of their roster, as nine players have hit at least 10 homers so far.
Padres: Tatis’ homers/steals quest
Few players in baseball history have blended speed and power quite like Fernando Tatis Jr. The Padres superstar leads the NL in home runs and stolen bases -- an absurdly rare combination. Only three players in recorded history have done so, and the last was the Phillies’ Chuck Klein in 1932. The other two took place more than 100 years ago -- Ty Cobb in 1909 and Jimmy Sheckard in 1903. Needless to say, the game was in a much different place then, pre-integration and pre-expansion.
Rockies: The home-road split
The Rockies are 41-21 (.661) at Coors Field this season, but just 14-45 (.237) on the road. That’s a .424 difference in winning percentage. The largest single-season split belongs to the 1945 Philadelphia Athletics, who went 39-35 (.527) at Shibe Park and 13-63 (.171) everywhere else -- good for a .356 split. Even stranger, the Rockies have a chance to shatter club records for most home wins (55) and most road losses (60).