Beltre, Pujols hoping to join Ichiro in 3,000-hit club; Trout, Colon, Kershaw also chasing history
By Matt Kelly
The calendar has flipped to 2017, and New Year's resolutions aren't the only thing to look forward to.
We saw Ichiro Suzuki's entry into the 3,000-hit club and Carlos Beltran and Mark Teixeira each breaking into the 400-homer club in 2016. More history is on tap this year, giving fans plenty of reasons to start counting with each hit, homer, strikeout, save, etc.
Here are 10 milestones to keep an eye on in the coming season:
• Perhaps the most anticipated pursuit of 2017 is Adrian Beltre's quest to become the 31st member of the 3,000-hit club. Beltre needs only 58 more hits to join Wade Boggs and George Brett as the only Club 3,000 members who played more than half their games at third base.
The great Albert Pujols is also within range, needing another 175 base knocks to join potentially Beltre and the other 30 legends. Pujols hasn't collected at least 175 hits in a season since 2010 -- his second-to-last year with the Cardinals -- though he did tally 172 just three seasons ago for the Angels.
• Beltre is also close to a couple of smaller milestones that would help him become truly elite. With just nine more doubles and five more home runs -- in addition to those 58 hits -- Beltre would join Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Stan Musial and Carl Yastrzemski as the only players in history with at least 3,000 hits, 600 doubles and 450 homers.
• Pujols is only nine homers shy of 600 in his career -- a total only equaled by Barry Bonds, Aaron, Babe Ruth, Alex Rodriguez, Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr., Jim Thome and Sammy Sosa. Pujols' career .309 average (if he can maintain it by the time he hits No. 600) would rank second to Ruth in that group, and his .573 slugging percentage and .965 OPS would rank third behind Ruth and Bonds.
• As if Mike Trout needed any further motivation, he could put himself in rare company with a powerful first five months of the 2017 season. Trout currently stands 32 homers shy of 200 in his brief career; if he hits those 32 before his birthday on Aug. 7, he would become only the eighth player to reach 200 before age 26. Hall of Famer Mel Ott was the youngest player in history to reach 200 home runs, doing so at 25 years and 144 days old in 1934.
• Ageless wonder Bartolo Colon may not be chasing the home run record, but he is only 135 strikeouts shy of becoming the 33rd member of the 2,500-strikeout club for pitchers. With only 888 career walks, Colon has a good chance to become only the ninth pitcher to finish with 2,500 punchouts and fewer than 1,000 walks.
No one in the 2,500-strikeout club will have shared the wealth like Colon, however. The Braves will be the ninth team Colon has pitched for in his career, which would break Gaylord Perry's clubhouse record of eight squads among 2,500-strikeout pitchers.
• It's a good bet that Tigers closer Francisco Rodriguez will join Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman and Lee Smith in 2017 as the only pitchers with 450 career saves. Rodriguez, who's currently sitting on 430 saves, has struck out 1,119 batters in his storied career, giving him an excellent chance to pass the career totals of Hoffman (1,133) and Rivera (1,173) in the coming season.
• Finally, in a perhaps unreasonable request: If Clayton Kershaw can put together yet another sub-2.00 ERA season with at least 100 innings pitched in 2017, he would become only the 13th pitcher in history -- and the first in the live-ball era -- to compile four such seasons in his career. Kershaw has already accomplished sub-2.00 ERA/100 inning campaigns in 2013, '14 and '16.
Club records that could fall
• How many games David Wright will play in 2017 is anyone's guess, but the Mets' third baseman is only 11 home runs shy of breaking Darryl Strawberry's franchise record of 252. Strawberry would still have the satisfaction of setting that record over just eight seasons in Queens, while 2017 will mark Wright's 14th campaign with the team.
• The Marlins are also hoping for a healthy bounce-back campaign from their big star, Giancarlo Stanton. Should Stanton drive in just 39 runs in 2017, he would pass Mike Lowell's total of 578 RBIs for the most in Marlins franchise history. Lowell was able to reach his tally in seven seasons in Miami, while this will be Stanton's eighth year in South Florida.
• Jose Bautista's return to Toronto is far from certain as he tests the free-agent waters, but here's one incentive for him to stay north of the border: With 109 more walks, Bautista would break Carlos Delgado's franchise record of 827. Bautista has always had an excellent eye; he's averaged 94 per season over his career and led the American League with 110 free passes just two seasons ago.
Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.