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03/25/2007 Archived Entry: "2007 Milestones Preview, Part II: Hitters"
By Michael Toeset
The abundance of possible milestones in any given year means articles like this could go on indefinitely, so rather than expound on the myriad possibilities, we’ll do a quick overview of some of the more important hitter milestones in the works for 2007.
Ageless wonder Julio Franco looks to crack the top 50 in games played. Currently he’s No. 52 with 2,472. He needs just nine games to jump to No. 50, passing Max Carey and Nap Lajoie. Steve Finley, No. 39 with 2,540, can move to No. 30 if he plays as much as he did last season (139 games), though that’s doubtful since he only hit .246 last year and slugged .394. Two players you’ll hear a lot from this season in the milestone category hope to solidify their status as two of the game’s most prolific players ever: Barry Bonds and Craig Biggio. Biggio is No. 25 with 2,709 games played. Another 145 games (which he did in 2006) would move him to the 15 spot. And Bonds, currently No. 13 with 2,860, would move to No. 10 with a season like last year. Even if Bonds’ and Biggio’s bodies hold up, the all-time leader in games played is pretty much unreachable: Pete Rose, with 3,562.
Bonds and Biggio again. Biggio is No. 18 with 1,776 runs scored, and Bonds is No. 6 with 2,152. If Biggio scores another 79 times, he’ll move to No. 13. And should Bonds score another 74 times, he’ll move to No. 3, past Rose, Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron. The top two? Ty Cobb with 2,246 and Rickey Henderson with 2,295.
Same candidates as above. Biggio has 2,930 career hits, good for 31st place. One hundred thirty-five more would boost him to No. 20 on the list. Bonds is No. 42 with 2,841 hits. Another 99 would move him to Biggio’s vacated spot at No. 31.
If only some of Bonds’ home runs had been doubles, he might be looking at that record. As it is, however, he’s 14th on that list with 587 career two-baggers. Bonds was only good for 23 doubles last year, so don’t expect him to move too high up the list. Another 23 would put him at No. 11 all time – right behind Aaron. Biggio currently is No. 9 with 637 doubles. He hit 33 last year, and if he can do that again, he’d move up to fifth on the list. No. 1 is Tris Speaker with 792.
Lots of RBI milestones are in the works this season. Starting at the top, we have Bonds at No. 7 with 1,930. If he reaches 2,000, he’ll trail only Cap Anson, Ruth and who else? Aaron. Bonds isn’t going to wrest this record from Aaron, however – he’s got an incredible 2,297. Next is Ken Griffey at No. 25 with 1,608. A typical Griffey season (typical nowadays, that is) would move him to No. 21. Frank Thomas is 33rd with 1,579. Assuming he reaches 1,600, he would become only the 26th player to do so. If the 2006 Thomas is for real, he’ll pass Griffey on the list this year. Sammy Sosa is right on their heels in 34th place with 1,575. He, too, should get to 1,600. Manny Ramirez (44th/1,516) and Gary Sheffield (46th/1,501) also could be joining the club this season.
Bonds, already the all-time walks leader with 2,426 (236 more than Henderson), will be looking to add to his monstrous total, forever putting it out of reach. Thomas is at No. 14 with 1,547. Another 81 would boost him to No. 9.
Sosa’s return to baseball puts him in position to try to catch Reggie Jackson in this notorious category. Mr. October finished his career with 2,597 strikeouts, and Sosa presently is No. 2 with 2,194. Jim Thome is No. 6 with 1,909 and should be in third place by year’s end. Biggio (No. 20) and Reggie Sanders (No. 22) will attempt to crack the top 15 this season.
Kenny Lofton, a poor man’s Henderson, has 599 stolen bases. The 39-year-old speedster still can steal as many bases as the young whippersnappers (32 last year) and should be 15th all time after this season.
Hit by pitch
Yes, a strange category. But Biggio has a chance to become the all-time plunked leader this year. Hughie Jennings is No. 1 with 287, and Biggio has 282 (good for second place). Biggio was hit nine times last year – his lowest total since the strike-shortened 1994 season – and should bump Jennings this season. What kind of prize does one receive for that anyway? A lifetime supply of ibuprofen? Jason Kendall also is in the top 10 here; he’s in seventh place with 209. He was hit 12 times last season, but another year of the same won’t move him up. Carlos Delgado is at No. 18 with 149, and 10 more (as he did in 2006) would move him to No. 14.