MLB Milestones 2011: 10 Marks Already Met in the Young Baseball Season
I know, I know. 2011 will be a pretty boring year for baseball milestones. No one is going to reach 500 home runs, Jim Thome is struggling to reach 600 dingers, only one guy has a shot at 3,000 hits and, well, 300 wins may never been seen again.
But fear not! 2011 has already had some pretty big milestones met by some notable names, including current stars, future Hall of Famers and those steady, unassuming compilers alike.
March 31: Washington Nationals' Ivan Rodriguez Plays 2,500th Game
In the very first game of the season, Ivan Rodriguez did what few players, and what even fewer catchers, have done—he played his 2,500th career game.
That mark, a true sign of durability and dedication if there ever was one, has only been reached by 52 players, ever.
And only one of those players has spent most of his career at catcher. I bet you can't guess who that is.
April 6: Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera Blasts 250th Home Run
Miguel Cabrera has been in the big leagues for less than a decade and already has more than 250 career home runs, making him one of only 42 players ever to reach that mark in less than 10 seasons.
In addition, he is the only current vicenarian with at least 250 career dingers. 27-year-old Prince Fielder will join the club soon.
April 8: Minnesota Twins' Joe Nathan Saves 250th Game
Joe Nathan has struggled mightily since returning from Tommy John Surgery and his 2011 season as a whole has been nothing to get excited about.
Nevertheless, amidst his troubles, Nathan accomplished something only four other active pitchers have achieved: He reached 250 career saves. Unfortunately, he has not saved a game since reaching that mark, as Matt Capps has taken over the closer role.
April 13: Atlanta Braves' Chipper Jones Drives in 1,500th Run
Chipper Jones just keeps adding to his Hall of Fame résumé. Of course, before this season he was a surefire Hall of Famer, but all these extra milestones and achievements just make his numbers look even better.
Had Jones not gotten hurt and faltered in recent years, he might be knocking on 2,000 RBI instead of 1,500, 500 home runs instead of 450 and he might have reached 3,000 hits instead of 2,500, a feat he accomplished on April 8.
Nevertheless, he is one of only three primary third baseman to ever reach 1,500 RBI. The others are George Brett (1,596 RBI) and Mike Schmidt (1,595 RBI).
April 23: Washington Nationals' Livan Hernandez Starts 450th Game
So far, I have listed some well-known names, a collection of players that have been considered great at least once in their respective careers.
And now I give you Livan Hernandez.
He has never been considered great (and there have been times when he hasn't even been considered good), but despite that, Hernandez has been a steady innings-eater throughout his career.
As a result of his incredible durability, he leads all active pitchers in games started and is second behind Tim Wakefield in innings pitched and batters faced. That's one of the joys of never landing on the disabled list.
April 24: Chicago White Sox's Adam Dunn Walks for the 1,000th Time
Adam Dunn—you know, the guy who has struck out 199 times in a season—has a trick up his sleeve. From time to time, he can draw a walk.
In fact, he has drawn over 1,000 of them in just 11 big league seasons, which is quite an impressive feat. He does strikeout a lot, but at least he can counter those Ks, sort of, by drawing a base on balls every once in a while.
May 2: Chicago White Sox's Mark Buehrle Wins 150th Game
Speaking of steady pitchers, four-time All-Star Mark Buehrle is another one. He won at least 10 games each year from 2001 to 2010 and he is on pace to do it again in 2011.
Winning at such a consistent clip adds up. Mark Buehrle is just one of 11 active pitchers with at least 150 career victories.
He is also closing in on 2,500 innings pitched and 10,000 batters faced, both signs of incredible durability.
May 8: Los Angeles Angels' Mike Scioscia Earns 1,000th Managerial Win
Slowly but surely, Mike Scioscia is building a case for the Hall of Fame. Don't believe me?
Only 56 managers have ever stuck around long enough to win 1,000 games. Of those 56, five are currently active.
Of the 51 remaining, 29 have been elected to the Hall—that's over 55 percent. That means Scioscia might have a shot at Cooperstown, especially if he wins a few hundred more games.
May 11: Milwaukee Brewers' Prince Fielder Slugs 200th Dinger
There are few modern sluggers more intimidating than Prince Fielder. Since his debut in 2005, he has made home run hitting look easy, averaging 38 a year from 2006 to 2010.
He plays in a power-packed era and as a result he joins a gaggle of active players with at least 200 career moonshots—there are 41 with at least that many.
Nevertheless, the 27-year-old Fielder is one of only a few to have reached that incredible mark before turning 30.
May 14: Houston Astros' Carlos Lee Collects 2,000th Hit
2,000 hits—it's not quite 3,000, but it's getting there!
Upon reaching that semi-magical milestone, Lee became one of only five active players with at least 2,000 hits, 300 home runs and 100 stolen bases.
The others are Alex Rodriguez, Vladimir Guerrero, Chipper Jones and Miguel Tejada. That's some pretty impressive company!