Milestone Watch: Indians Give Stat Rats Numbers to Cheer For
By Steve Eby
Did you know that the Major League record for inside the park homeruns was held by a former Cleveland Hall of Famer?
The former Cleveland Spider was named Jesse Burkett and was nicknamed “The Crab”, and he hit 55 inside-the-parkers during his Hall of Fame career from 1890-1905. That ridiculous total has to make you wonder if baseball was played back in the 1800’s without fences, outfielders or maybe even 90-foot bases.
Nowadays, records like the one held by The Crab are probably safe forever, but that doesn’t stop baseball people from keeping track of every little detail and statistic from each and every game. Milestones occur so often that we really only take notice when the accomplishment breaks a record or ends in at least two zeroes.
Several Indians on the 2013 team are poised to set their own personal milestones and/or have a chance to pass some names on either baseball’s or the franchise’s all-time list. Some are obviously more impressive than others, but milestones are milestones nevertheless.
What does 100 doubles for a baseball career mean? It means that a player is now 12.6% of the way toward former Indian Tris Speaker’s all time record.
Take that for what it’s worth, but 100 doubles is certainly a noteworthy number that three Indians have a chance to reach during the 2013 season. Michael Brantley, Carlos Santana and newcomer Mike Aviles will probably each reach the milestone this year, as Brantley needs 26 to hit the mark, Santana needs 25 and Aviles needs only nine.
Should 500 base hits even count as a milestone? It is a nice round number and is halfway to a number that is definitely worth mentioning, so it shall count today.
Four Indians have 500 base knocks within their grasps as Aviles, Ryan Raburn, Drew Stubbs and Brantley could are all within a reasonable number. Brantley is the farthest away, but is probably still the most likely as he needs only 113 hits. Stubbs should also make it, as the former Reds outfielder needs only 69 to hit the mark. Raburn and Aviles would probably need an injury or a lot more playing time than expected to make it, as Aviles needs 112 and Raburn 97.
Michael Bourn has been a good player for a while now and the newest Indian has a chance to hit some unquestionable milestones this season. First, Bourn needs 180 base hits to make it to 1,000 for his career. It should be noted that Bourn has only gone over this number one time in his career, but he has cracked 170 three of the past four seasons.
Next, Bourn has a really good chance to move up the all-time stolen base list. Bourn needs 24 steals to reach 300 for his career and needs 39 to crack MLB’s all-time top 150. Currently, Bourn sits in 184th place with 276 thefts. Both of these numbers are certainly realistic, as Bourn has amassed over 40 steals every season since 2008.
Finally, Bourn has an outside chance to break the Indians record for most steals by a player in his first year with the ball club. That record currently is held by Kenny Lofton, who stole 66 bases during his rookie season of 1992. It may be unlikely, as Bourn would need to break his career high by six in order to break Lofton’s mark, but it is not ridiculous to think that it is possible.
It’s not Barry Bonds-territory yet, but 200 homeruns means that you are certainly a legitimate power hitter and it deserves to be recognized. New Indian Mark Reynolds will most likely hit this number this season.
Reynolds needs 19 homeruns to reach 200, as he currently sits at 181. This number should be considered likely, as Reynolds has smashed over 20 homeruns each season since 2008, including a career high 44 in 2009.
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While Reynolds is known for his power, he is even more known for his strikeout rate. Having struck out over 200 times three straight seasons from 2008-2010, Reynolds has climbed up the all-time list at an alarming rate. He currently ranks 189th all-time, despite having only played six seasons. This year, Reynolds would need 217 whiffs in order to move into baseball’s top 100. This is a number that Reynolds has only hit one time, but he has also come within 20 K’s of this number thrice.
Playing time will most likely determine if and when these milestones will be reached, but Jason Giambi is poised to hit a definite milestone and to pass some big names in baseball history. Giambi needs only 32 hits to reach 2,000 for his career, a number that is not guaranteed for the 42-year old bench player, but is certainly not out of the question.
Also, Giambi currently sits 43rd on baseball’s all-time homerun list and would pass Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. if he can hit three this season. He would also pass Andruw Jones and former Indian Juan Gonzalez if he could hit six, and would pass another Hall of Famer in Andre Dawson if he could hit 10. Just as it was with the hits, these numbers are all only likely if Giambi finds his way into the lineup more than once a week.
Three pitchers on the Indians have a good chance to hit the 1K mark in their respective categories. Opening Day starter Justin Masterson needs to hurl 180.0 innings this season in order to hit the 1,000 inning pitched plateau. Barring injury, this should happen sometime in September as Masty has hit or passed this number in each of his three full seasons with the Tribe.
Both Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir should make a 1,000 club as well, but they will both make it with their 1,000th strikeouts. Jimenez needs only 22 K’s to make the list and Kazmir needs only seven. Even with Jimenez’s inconsistency and Kazmir’s lack of Major League innings the past few years, both pitchers should hit these marks sometime during April.
The Tribe’s number three starter, Brett Myers, should hit three milestones this season. Myers needs only three wins to make it an even 100 for his career and also needs only seven losses to hit the century mark as well. Hopefully, the former Phillies, Astros and White Sox pitcher will make 100 victories before May and will take all season to hit 100 losses.
Myers has a good chance to make it to 1,500 career strikeouts this season as well. Myers needs 133 K’s to hit this target; a number that he has put up every season that he was a starting pitcher except for 2004.
The hitters and starting pitchers are not the only players shooting for milestones, as closer Chris Perez opens the season with 99 saves during his Indians career. He passed the career century mark last season, but eight of his 107 saves were as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Perez would need to set a career high to make it, but he also needs only 41 saves to become the Indians all-time leader in this category. Bob Wickman locked down 139 saves during his time with the club, and Perez has a chance with an improved team to break this mark late in 2013.
It’s not all about the players. New Manager Terry Francona also has some milestones that he can meet as well.
Francona currently sits 71 victories shy of 1,100 for his career—a number that he is likely to surpass. On the other hand, he also is 85 losses short of 1,000—a number that would be extremely disheartening if he met this season. It is possible that Francona could meet both of these numbers this season, but that would mean that the Tribe’s season was an extreme disappointment.
On a more optimistic view, Francona also has a chance to set the franchise record for most victories by a manager in his first season with the club. That record currently is held by Charlie Manuel, who won 90 games in 2001. It should be noted that Speaker won 98 games and the World Series during his first full season with the Indians in 1920, but he also took over part way through the 1919 season and posted a 40-21 record that year.
The Indians as a franchise have marks that are within reach as well. If the Tribe can hit 121 homeruns as a club this season, they will hit the 12,000 mark in franchise history. This seems likely, as the far-less powerful 2012 team blasted 136.
The next mark is definitely a stretch and extremely unlikely, but is worth mentioning. The Indians franchise is 967 runs short of 80,000. This number is probably way out of reach, despite the additions to the offense, as the Tribe only touched home plate 667 times a season ago.
As unlikely as the franchise runs milestone appears, it is something to root for. The Tribe and its players look to appease the stat rats of Cleveland in 2013 with plenty of milestones, both big and small, within reach.
Photo: Chuck Crow/The Plain Dealer