The football season is over, hockey and basketball are only now approaching the final quarter of their regular seasons, and pitchers and catchers are mere days from reporting to their Spring Training camp sites.
Oh, it’s time for baseball, all right.
With all due congratulations to the New Orleans Saints, the conclusion of the Super Bowl is usually just a signal that, yes, baseball really is that close. Well, to some of us it is, anyway. One thing I like to do prior to the start of every year is look for potential milestones; numbers that, despite being arbitrary and really no different from any other number, are nice, round, shiny checkboxes to mark off on a player’s career resume.
There aren’t too many historic or overly glamorous plateaus for members of this team to reach, as a great deal are still in their very early thirties or younger. They simply haven’t had the career length to compile 500 homers or 3,000 hits.
So, what Phillies players have milestones to reach in 2010? Let’s take a look at some numbers the players might reach in the coming season. Of course, injuries are always a possibility, so assume I note that caveat each time. These are all in no particular order:
- Chase Utley, 1,000 hits (currently at 978)
This one’s almost too easy. Utley got his 22nd hit on April 27 last year, a mere 18 games into the season. All with a sore hip, too. Then again, that was one torrid start he got off to. I’ll expect something slightly more conservative, and look for hit No. 22 a little later.
- Jimmy Rollins, 1,000 runs scored (currently at 945)
Even with an OBP as low as Rollins’s was in 2009, he still managed to cross the plate 100 times in 155 games. While it’s unlikely to think Rollins will hit as poorly again in 2010, it’s also worth contemplating Charlie Manuel’s new supposed conviction to giving the studs a few extra days off. With the great hitters behind him, he’ll cross 55 before the season is too old. He crossed 55 runs in his 80th game in 2009, back on July 20.
- Raul Ibanez, 1,000 RBI (currently at 887)
Hitting behind Chase Utley, all things are possible, especially when it comes to RBI. Raul will need 113 ribbies in 2010 to cross this plateau, but if Ryan Howard has a bit of a power outage, Ibanez could easily scoop up his collateral RBI. A total of 113 would be his second-best total, trailing only his 2006 season in Seattle.
- Jimmy Rollins, 100 triples (currently at 95)
Rollins hasn’t hit fewer than five triples in any season of his career, save a 14-game stint at the very beginning of his career back in 2000. Even though he’s aging, he sure doesn’t show many signs of slowing. Even though five triples really aren’t that easy to come by, Rollins should almost certainly get No. 100 here in 2010.
- Roy Halladay, 150 wins (currently at 148)
Laughable. Halladay will start opening day against the Nationals, then likely faces the Astros, Nationals again, Braves and Mets in the four starts to follow. Even with the bit of uncertainty lingering in the air above the Phillies’ bullpen, I’d feel pretty good about Halladay notching at least two wins in his first five starts. You should, too.
- Jamie Moyer, 4,000 innings pitched (currently at 3,908.2)
With the announcement earlier Wednesday that Moyer would be the fifth starter in the Phils’ rotation entering the 2010 season, this milestone seems a bit more feasible for Jamie to reach. Should he lose his grip on that spot to Kyle Kendrick, Drew Carpenter or any other number of viable candidates, things may get a bit murkier. Until then, though, it looks as if Jamie will get the remaining 91.1 innings onto his record after17-18 starts, if not a bit sooner. Remember: the man is 47.
Less glamorous milestones:
- Jimmy Rollins, 5,000 outs made (currently at 4,532)
A by-product of leading off so often is that with more at-bats come more outs. During his MVP campaign in 2007, Rollins actually led the Majors in outs made with 527. He fell one short of that ignominious mark in 2009, all in 53 fewer plate appearances. Obviously, we can probably write off Jimmy’s 2009 as a blip; he shouldn’t perform that poorly again, you’d expect. However, Rollins needs 468 outs to crack 5,000 for his career, and has exceeded that 468-count figure in eight of the last nine years. The only exception, of course, was 2008, when Rollins played in just 137 games.
What would Jimmy need to do to postpone reaching the 5k peak? Well, assuming he gets the 717 plate appearances he’s averaged since his first full season, he would need to reach base 250 times for an OBP of .349. Funnily enough, that’s exactly his career high, a mark he achieved in 2008.
- Raul Ibanez, 1,000 strikeouts (currently at 906)
Ibanez has only recently morphed into a high-strikeout player. Reasons for this are something I don’t know and am now interested in finding out (it could just be age), but it makes reaching 94 strikeouts for this season much more likely than it would in, say, 2002. Ibanez has had no fewer than 97 Ks in each of the last five seasons, but if he puts up power numbers even somewhat comparable to 2009, we’ll gladly accept that, I’m sure.
- Ryan Howard, 1,000 strikeouts (currently at 878)
Sadly, Ryan Howard hasn’t played long enough to soften the blow of reaching this milestone. He needs 122 punchouts to hit No. 1,000, and has struck out at least 181 times in each of the past four years. We may yet see both Howard and Ibanez cross the 1,000 mark here in 2010.
Milestones to keep an eye on for 2011:
- Jimmy Rollins, 2,000 hits (currently at 1,629)
He’s not getting 371 hits in one season – boy wouldn’t that be something – but as his 2011 option has already been picked up, it seems Jimmy will have a good shot to get his 2,000th hit in red pinstripes. He’ll need an average of 186 hits in 2010 and ’11, but he’s passed that four times before. He’ll certainly come close and definitely reach 2,000 by 2012.
- Chase Utley, 150 HBP (currently at 107)
It’s a wonder the man hasn’t developed a Notre Dame-like hunch of bruising on his right shoulder, turning “away” from pitches that come too far inside. Hey, it’s part of his strategy. I’ll live with hits to the back and shoulder, so long as they stay away from his hand.
Looking at you, John Lannan.
- Ryan Howard, 1,000 hits (currently at 750)
RyGuy just isn’t a 250-hit player. He’s just not Ichiro. But he does hit enough to get to 1,000 sometime in 2011, for sure.
- Cole Hamels, 1,000 strikeouts (currently at 686)
Needing 314 Ks, Cole could be at 1,000 strikeouts before he turns 28. That doesn’t put him on pace to challenge Nolan Ryan or even have a likely shot at 3,000, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive. Hamels is currently second on the Phillies’ all-time leaderboard for strikeouts per nine (albeit in a shorter amount of time). The man he trails? Curt Schilling, who didn’t reach his 1,000th K until he was ten seasons into his career and 30 years old.
Am I saying Cole is the next Curt? Nope. I can’t possibly know that, but Schilling finished his career with 3,116 strikeouts, and Cole is (technically) ahead of his curve right now. It’s at least fun to think about.
- Chase Utley, 200 home runs (currently at 161)
Chase will need a huge power surge to break this in 2010. Sitting 39 dingers away, he’s a near lock to hit number 200 by 2011, at worst. I do not, however, see him swatting all 39 of those homers in 2010, though the usual 30 or so will more than suffice.
Chase will probably play in his 1,000th game in 2010 (he’s 109 away), and among second basemen who have played 1,000-plus games since 1901, only twelve have ever hit 200 homers. Jeff Kent holds the second base record at 377, a mark Utley could challenge in the latter stages of his career.
Any milestones that I’ve missed? Do you think any current Phils have a shot at greater benchmarks? Let’s hear what you have to say.