Every year, there is at least one unconventional story in the Majors that is a fun one to follow.
For me, it’s the saga of Matt Stairs.
You see, I first became aware of Stairs in 1989 when he played A-ball for the Rockford Expos…Montreal’s Midwest League affiliate. He was a long way from grizzled veteran that he is now, but the dude could already hit.
When Stairs hits the field for San Diego this season, it’ll be his twelfth Major League team…a record he would share with former reliever Mike Morgan and current National Ron Villone.
Also interesting to me, will be that first time that Stairs goes yard for his new team.
You see, when he hits that first home run (number 260 for his career), he’ll be doing something no one else has done…hit a home run for 11 Major League franchises.
Add to that, this nugget…the first time he goes deep as a pinch hitter, the 18-year vet will tie Cliff Johnson as the all-time leader with 20 pinch hit home runs.
Oh, and in case you were wondering what time he didn’t hit a home run with…it would be that same team that drafted him.
The Montreal Expos.
And with that…here’s the NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST.
If “best mustache” was a milestone, Diamondbacks reliever Clay Zavada would already have surpassed many on the all-time list.
Last year’s Robert Goulet Mustached American Award recipient (it’s a real thing…read all about it HERE), begins his second season with Arizona and first full season with the league’s fanciest lip sweater.
Across the diamond is third baseman Mark Reynolds and his penchant for striking out. He set a record in 2008 when he became the first Major Leaguer to strikeout more than 200 times (2004!) in a season.
Last year, he shattered his own mark by going down swinging 223 times and, in the process, set the record for the most strikeouts by a player in their first three seasons with 556.
Here’s to a wonderful 2010, Mark!
Colorado resigned Jason Giambi in the off season and the 2000 American League MVP will be looking to provide a spark off the Rockies bench and pad his career stats.
Giambi is 129 hits away from 2000 for his career, but, unfortunately, he hasn’t had anything near that total since his second year with the Yankees in 2003.
Out of the bullpen, veteran lefty Alan Embree is a mere 25 appearances away from tying Cy Young on the all-time games pitched list with 907. Over the span of Embree’s 17-year career, he hasn’t pitched in LESS than 25 games since 1996, when he got the call from the pen only 24 times.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
With 2246 wins, Dodgers skipper Joe Torre ranks fifth all-time among all managers. Right ahead of him on that list is Bobby Cox with 2413 victories. The two managers also are tied all-time with 15 playoff appearances.
But, with Cox already having announced that this will be his last season in the dugout, Torre looks to be poised to have the last laugh.
Also of interest with Torre…keep your eye on the Dodgers-Yankees interleague matchup June 25-27. This will be the first time Torre has faced off against his former team in his nearly 30 years as a big league skipper.
In what he says will already be his last in Los Angeles, slugger Manny Ramirez is either (A) plyaing for a bigger contract elsewhere or (B) looking to pad his stats so he can start preparing his Hall of Fame speech.
Oh…and there’s always that pesky (C) he is just going to go out there, and fulfill all the hackneyed “Manny Being Manny” predictions.
Either way, here’s what he stands to do in 2010.
First out of the gate, Ramirez is just six hits (2494) away from getting to 2500 for his career and four home runs (546) away from 550. When he surpasses 2500 and 550, he’ll be one of just a handful of players to have done so.
There are three players ahead of Ramirez on the all-time list that he stands a chance to catch this season…Mike Schmidt (548), Reggie Jackson (563) and Rafael Palmeiro (569).
If Ramirez plays the entire season (always a big “IF”), he stands a chance of becoming only the eleventh player in Major League history to surpass 1900 RBI for his career. With 1788 now, he is a mere 115 away from tying Willie Mays (1903) on the all-time list.
SAN DIEGO PADRES
Check out the lead, gang…until Hall of Very Good contributor Matt Antonelli lands on the team, there is only one thing I’ll be watching the Padres for.
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Willie Mays’ former club could make a splash…but we’ll have to wait until the end of the season to find out.
All-world starter Tim Lincecum is looking to become just the ninth pitcher to win three or more Cy Young Awards and if he does do it, he’ll be the youngest ever (by a few years) to take home the hardware thrice.
And from the “do they really keep track of that” department, Edgar Renteria is 15 hits and 13 stolen bases away from being just the fifth active player with 2200 hits and 300 steals.
So there you have it, gang…all six divisions and a preview of their upcoming milestones.
Check them out here:American League East
American League Central
American League West
National League East
National League Central