March 16, 2011

2011 Milestone Preview: National League East

The easy lead to write here would include something about the Philadelphia Phillies and their pitching staff.

So, um...didja hear the one about the Phillies and their pitching staff?

While they're way impressive...not a single one of them is going to achieve any notable milestones this upcoming season.  None of them are chasing down 200 wins or 3000 strikeouts.

Nothing.

But, given he threw two no-hitters last season, is it wrong to hope that Roy Halladay does it again when he opens up the season with his league-leading ninth Opening Day start?

Thought not.

And with that…here’s the NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST.


ATLANTA BRAVES

Limited to a career-low 95 games last season, future Hall of Famer (yeah, I said it) Chipper Jones
is looking at eclipsing a couple benchmarks this season…2500 hits, 1500 RBI and 450 home runs are all in his sites. The first two being the easiest to accomplish given he is sitting at 2490 hits and 1491 RBI.

Heck, he'll probably knock those out before Easter.  But with 436 home runs, reaching 450 might take a little longer.

Any way you slice it, the Braves third baseman is the only switch hitter in Major League history with a career batting average better than .300 (.306) and more than 400 home runs.

He’ll enter the season ninth all-time among switch hitters on the career hits list, but should end up the season well ahead of eighth place hitter Tim Raines at 2605. And with a mere 20 RBI, he’ll surpass Mickey Mantle and move into second place on the all-time list of RBI by a switch hitter.

FLORIDA MARLINS

Next year at this time, we won't have the Florida Marlins to knock around anymore.


No, contraction fans, they're not going away...they're changing their names from "Florida" to "Miami".  Meaning...this is also the last season that the Marlins will be calling Sun Life Stadium home. 

With that, I'm going to make a bold prediction...Logan Morrison is going to hit for the cycle at some point this season.  And when he does...he'll become the first in franchise history to do so.

NEW YORK METS

Oh...the Mets.


It's pretty hard to get excited about a team that is only in the headlines because "Former New York Mets Ace Dwight Gooden" is appearing on "Celebrity Rehab"...but let's try.

The Mets actually do have three players going for significant milestones...if they can stay healthy and/or out of jail

In the bullpen, Francisco Rodriguez is sitting at 268 saves. On the career list, that’d put him just ahead of Bob Wickman and 26th all-time, but considering this cat just turned 29…we’re going to, by the end of the season, witness the youngest reliever ever to reach 300 saves and could be looking at someone to challenge Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera’s career numbers.

Also on the bump, pitcher Johan Santana is 113 strikeouts away from 2000 for his career.  On paper, that's a tiny sum (dude has struck out 200 or more five times), but given he's more hurt than effective lately...113 Ks might take a while.

And speaking of injured Mets.

Carlos Beltran is 20 home runs away from 300 for his career.  The milestone seemed like a no-brainer to have happened going into the 2009 season, but since then...he's totaled just 17 longballs in less than a full season of work.

Also not going to happen, but worth mentioning...second baseman Luis Castillo is 111 hits from reaching 2000 for his career.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Let's get this out of the way...Ryan Howard is a beast.

While he's not closing in on any major milestones...is it wrong to suggest that, at 253 home runs, him reaching 300 is completely out of the question?  I thought not.

Over at shortstop, Jimmy Rollins is two triples away from 100 for his career.  And in the bullpen...closer Brad Lidge is 28 saves away from 250.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS

Since first round pick Bryce Harper got sent to the Minors this past weekend, we'll be waiting a while to see if he can surpass all of Barry Bonds' home run numbers with one swing of the bat.

That said...the Nationals have at least one man who is a headline generator.

Matt.  Stairs.

When he makes the squad, Stairs will have set the Major League record for the number of different teams played for (13)...assuming you count Washington as a separate entity from the Montreal Expos.

Which I do.

Also on the horizon for Stairs.  If/when he goes yard for his new club...he'll have surpassed Todd Zeile by hitting a home run for twelve different ballclubs.

Another journeyman of late, 14-time All-Star Ivan Rodriguez is looking to secure his spot as the greatest catcher ever.

It’s true.

The 1999 American League MVP has 13 Gold Gloves behind the plate, has already appeared in more games than any other backstop (2390) and at 2817 career hits...is about two seasons away from being the first catcher to reach 3000.

The American League Central is next on the docket…feel free to check out the American League East HERE.

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