If you like baseball, there’s a good chance you like numbers, too. More than any other professional sport, baseball fans love to keep track of stats and figures. And it’s always fun when a player or a team reaches a numerical milestone, even though it doesn’t always mean a whole lot for the actual game play.
The best recent example would be Jim Thome‘s 600th home run. Unfortunately, none of the Twins will chase any illustrious numbers like that this year, but there are a few potential milestones worth mentioning.
Joe Mauer needs 16 more home runs to reach 100 for his career. He hasn’t hit for much power over the last few seasons, so that mark may be out of reach or it might be right about where he’ll end up. Unless he misses a significant amount of time, though, he’ll definitely surpass the 500 walk mark – he needs 35 more. If he walks 13 times after that, he’ll pass Chuck Knoblauch for 6th on the all-time Twins leaderboard. And if he plays in 82 games, he’ll reach 1,000 overall.
Justin Morneau is just 15 home runs away from 200. Nobody knows if he’ll be healthy this year, but if he is, he’s a fair bet to reach that number. If he somehow puts his slumps behind him, he has a chance to pass quite a few players on the all time list. His 185 career big-flies places him at #8 on the Twins list. Torii Hunter is seventh with 192, Gary Gaetti sixth with 201, Kirby Puckett fifth with 207, and Bob Allison is fourth with 211. If Morneau has a huge year and ties his career high of 34 homers, he’ll catch Tony Oliva for third in Twins history. He’s also eighth on the team RBI list with 709. Hunter (711), Rod Carew (733), and Gaetti (758) are all within reach.
Morneau’s milestones might be among the most interesting to watch, but a couple other hitters can reach plateaus of their own. Denard Span can reach 100 career steals if he swipes 27 this year. Josh Willingham has 434 RBI, so 500 is a possibility for him.
On the pitching side, Carl Pavano and Jason Marquis both won their 100th games last year. Pavano will probably reach at least one longevity milestone this year. He has made 273 career starts, so if he pitches a full season, he’ll reach 300. He’s also closing in on 2,000 career innings pitched. Unfortunately, he’ll need 274.1 more innings to reach that, so unless Ron Gardenhire raises his pitch count limit to about 150 per game, that’s not a likely possibility this year. Marquis is also very close to 300 starts. He needs 33 more, which is an outside possibility for 2012. It’s more likely that Marquis will top the 1,000 strikeout mark. He’s 26 away.
Scott Baker needs 230 more strikeouts to reach the same 1,000 total; he’ll probably have to wait until 2013 to get there. He will reach 1,000 innings pitched, barring injury. Right now he is at 958. There are two Twins starters who have a shot at reaching the 50 win mark: Francisco Liriano is at 47 wins entering the season, and Nick Blackburn has 39.
As a franchise, the Twins will try to put off a dubious milestone. Dating back to 1901, the Senators/Twins franchise has lost 8,915 games. If they drop 85 more this season, they’ll lose #9,000. The Orioles are the only AL franchise that has lost more (9,052). On the positive side, Twins pitchers have a chance to rack up their 80,000th franchise strikeout. They need 1,035, which would require an improvement over last year. It would be easier to reach that mark if Walter Johnson were still around. “Big Train” is the franchise’s all-time K leader with 3,509.
If you ignore the Washington Senators years and just focus on the Twins (1961 to present), you can look forward to the 2,000 triple mark. The team has 1,943 right now. 57 triples is a lot for one season, but maybe they could move the fences out at Target Field or something. If they move the fences in instead, the Twins could reach 7,000 home runs. They have hit 6,827 since moving to this state. As I pointed out earlier this week, the franchise as a whole is closing in on 10,000 as well.