While the Seattle Mariners have played the fewest games in MLB so far this year, due mostly to odd scheduling, travel, and snow days, a lot has happened in the first two weeks of the season. Shohei Ohtani is officially a phenomenon, threatening to eclipse the buzz around Fernandomania from the early 1980’s. Only with Ohtani, the comparisons inevitably go back a hundred years to one George Herman Ruth. The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox rivalry is heating back up with two bench clearing brawls in one game. And, already two pitchers have been removed from their respective games mid-no-hitter, a reflection of how pitching rotations are evolving. But, the great thing about baseball is that on any given night you are likely to see something you’ve never seen before.
So maybe Mariners games haven’t been on the highlight reals on Sportscenter (does anyone actually watch Sportscenter anymore?), but that’s not to say there are no milestones to come in Mariners games in the foreseeable future. Using MLB’s Milestone Tracker, we can take a look at some of the moments that should occur for Mariners players as well as while the Mariners are on the field this season.
Hitting Milestones At Home
Coming up pretty soon, likely in the early May series with the Los Angeles Angels of Shohei Ohtani, (or Anaheim or something), Robinson Cano should rip his 522nd double, tying him with three other players in 48th place all-time. If that isn’t so intriguing to you, if he can get to 523 in the same series Cano would be tied with a gentleman we like to refer to as the Say Hey Kid, the one and only Willie Mays. During the same series Albert Pujols of the Angels could play in his 2,606th game and cruise into 40th place tied with Dwight Evans of Boston Red Sox fame.
Speaking of games played, a few weeks later towards the middle of May, Adrian Beltre and the Texas Rangers come to Safeco and the third baseman could play in his 2,850th game, tying him with Hall of Famer Craig Biggio who played his entire career with the Houston Astros. Also, in that Rangers series, Cano has the opportunity to creep up the doubles list and catch Dave Parker in 44th place.
A lot of the milestones predicted by MLB are obviously predicated on health and playing time. That said, if Ichiro Suzuki can remain in the lineup he’s on pace to also inch up the games played list and possibly catch another Mariners legend, Ken Griffey, Jr., in 34th place with 2,671 games played. That could happen by late May. Also, by early June, Ichiro could conceivably get to 3,100 hits which would tie him with Dave Winfield for 20th all-time in MLB. Gather another five hits and get to 3,105 and Ichiro and Alex Rodriguez would share 19th place on the hits list. Oh, and on that doubles list there’s some guy named Lou Gehrig that Cano can catch in late June.
At the very top of the amazing feats list for Safeco this season should come around the nation’s birthday, again when the Angels come to town. Mike Trout is on pace to crank his 1,000-career hit around July 3rd. And the next day on July 4th, if healthy, Albert Pujols could very well join the 3,000-hit club. It’s pretty amazing to consider that Mariners fans will have the opportunity to see, in the span of just a few weeks, FOUR first ballot Hall of Famers play and hit milestones in the persons of Robinson Cano, Albert Pujols, Adrian Beltre, and Ichiro Suzuki. (I can make a compelling argument for Trout already having amassed a resume to qualify, but let’s just enjoy what he does for now).
Personal milestones that Seattleites could enjoy, include Dee Gordon swiping his 300th base in late May, Kyle Seager scoring his 500th run around June 1st, Robbie Cano scoring his 1,200th run in the middle of June, and Nelson Cruz launching his 350th HR early in July.
As the season winds down in late August and early September, Cano could continue his climb up the doubles list and catch Manny Ramirez in 31st place with 547. And far more unlikely given playing time, but Ichiro is within shot of George Brett and 3,154 hits that would move him up to 15th on the all-time list. That would have to happen in September, if it’s going to happen at all.
Pitching Milestones at Home
The potential pitching milestones at Safeco this season pretty much revolve around Felix Hernandez and his health. If he lands on the DL, he’s not getting to most of these. But if healthy, there could be some magical moments on the mound in the Emerald City.
Around May 4th, the King’s Court could hang up a K that represents Felix catching Charlie Hough for 46th all-time on the strikeout leaderboard with 2,382. And for projected home milestones, Felix could catch Dennis Eckersley in strikeouts at 43rd all-time around the end of June. That number is 2,401.
Former Mariner closer Fernando Rodney will be in town with the Minnesota Twins on or about May 25th and could catch the Goose, Rich Gossage with his 310th save, moving him into a tie at 23rd all-time. If you like saves, Joakim Soria and the Chicago White Sox will be in the Pacific Northwest towards the end of July and Soria could record his 216th save that would tie him with Dave Smith.
Currently on the DL and equally as questionable in terms of health as Hernandez, CC Sabathia and the New York Yankees come to town on September 7th and, if he takes the mound, Sabathia could be starting his 538th game. That milestone would put the big lefthander in the company of Red Ruffing, the Hall of Famer who pitched for the Red Sox in the 1920’s and the Yankees in the 1930’s. That many starts are good for 31st on the all-time list, pretty impressive given how pitching rotations have changed since those days.
Not bad home baseball for Mariners fans. Let’s look and see what could be seen on TV or in a visit to another ballpark.
Hitting Milestones On the Road
A couple of the rungs of the doubles ladder for Robinson Cano span international borders with the first being in Toronto against the Blue Jays in the May 10th range. A stop in Detroit for a series against the Tigers following the Toronto jaunt may see Cano hit the same number of doubles as “The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived, Ted Williams. If not in Detroit, then maybe in Minnesota. Hopefully, it will have warmed up some by then.
After possibly tying Junior in doubles in Seattle, Cano’s trip to Oakland might see Cap Anson and Frank Robinson caught and eclipsed. Have you noticed that all of these players are in the Hall of Fame? Just checking.
If given the playing time, Ichiro would continue to inch up the hits list and the games played list over the course of the season. Stops in Arlington and Oakland are the likely locations for milestones to fall.
Pitching Milestones on the Road
Of the Icons of pitching in the history of baseball, Sandy Koufax is truly special. His career was cut short by arthritis in his elbow, but the six years he dominated hitters in the 1960’s has reached legendary status. So, with that history in mind, consider that Felix Hernandez could catch him in strikeouts when the Mariners visit Fenway Park in late June. The mark is 2,396 and ranks 45th in the history of baseball.
A late July stop in Anaheim, could see the King eclipse the deceptive right-handed Cuban, Luis Tiant, who pitched for the Cleveland Indians in the 60’s and the Red Sox in the 70’s, finishing up his career with stints in the Bronx, Pittsburgh, and California when the Angels hailed from the entire state. If Felix can fan his 2,416th hitter, he can share 41st place all-time with Tiant.
Jamie Moyer, Andy Pettitte, Sam McDowell, and Bartolo Colon (assuming he doesn’t get another gig this season), are all next in line on the K list and might fall in either Oakland or Arlington in September. As with Ichiro in the batter’s box, Felix breaking records this season on the mound will depend largely on health and effectiveness.
Next Up in Seattle
So, after the Mariners complete their road trip to Minnesota, Kansas City, and Oakland, they will return home to face the Houston Astros, starting on April 17th. While April probably won’t see any milestones met, May is just around the corner and Mariners fans can look forward to witnessing some history.