COMMENTARY | During the past two seasons, New York Yankees fans were constantly reminded of Derek Jeter's quest for 3,000 hits and beyond. This season, Jeter has a chance to break into the top five in the all-time hits category. Meanwhile, a few other Yankees are in line to make some history, including one with an outside chance of reaching the 3,000-hit mark, himself.
Sitting on 3,304 career hits, Jeter needs 210 hits to break into the top five. Until then, he's got a few Hall of Famers within his sights, including Eddie Collins (3,315), Paul Molitor (3,319), Carl Yastrzemski (3,419), Honus Wagner (3,420), and Cap Anson (3,435). Currently fifth on the all-time list is Tris Speaker (3,514).
Jeter also has two club records in his sights this season: With 92 runs, he'll break Babe Ruth's team record and, with 11 more doubles, he'll surpass Lou Gehrig in that category.
A couple of pitchers are in line for milestone wins.
Andy Pettitte is 5 wins away from reaching 250 for his career, a milestone reached by only 46 other pitchers. Excluding those not yet eligible for the Hall of Fame (e.g., Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson), only eight members of this club are not enshrined in Cooperstown. Pettitte's career win-loss percentage (.633) also ranks in the top 50. Pettitte is generally considered a borderline Hall of Famer. Along with his postseason numbers, having reached 250 wins might improve his case for Hall membership.
Pettitte also needs 65 strikeouts to break Whitey Ford's team record in that category and 31 starts from breaking Ford's for most games started by a Yankee.
C.C. Sabathia is 9 wins away from 200. It might not sound like a big accomplishment, but besides Pettitte, only two other active pitchers (Roy Halladay and Tim Hudson) can list that club membership on their resumes. Sabathia turns 32 in July, so it's not unthinkable to imagine that, if he stays healthy, he could join the 250-win list in a few years.
And then there's Alex Rodriguez.
When he returns from hip surgery after the All-Star break, Rodriguez will find a few milestones on his road to recovery. He needs 13 home runs to tie Willie Mays for fourth on the all-time list at 660, a feat that will also net him a $6 million bonus thanks to a clause in his 2007 contract.
Rodriguez also a chance to move into the top 5 in the RBIs category. A-Rod is currently seventh on the all-time list with 1,950. He's within striking distance of Stan Musial (1,951), Lou Gehrig (1,995), and Barry Bonds (1,996).
It may be out of his reach if he only plays 80 or so games this season, but Rodriguez is only 91 hits away from 3,000. A-Rod has collected 180 or more hits in a season 7 times in his 19-year career, but hasn't reached that number since 2007. Joe Giradi is expected to regularly rest Rodriguez when the slugger returns from the disabled list, so it seems unlikely that Rodriguez will join the 3,000 Hit Club this season although it's not outside the realm of possibility.
Other milestones to keep watch for:
Ichiro Suzuki, entering his 13th major league season, is 89 games away from playing in his 2,000th MLB game. Prior to joining the Seattle Mariners in 2001, Suzuki spent nine seasons in Japan, where he played 951 games for the Orix Blue Wave. That means that, if he stays healthy, Suzuki could play in his 3,000th professional game before the end of the season.
With 41 more hits, Robinson Cano will be halfway to 3,000. It will have have taken Cano eight-plus seasons and close to 1,300 games to do it. (He enters 2013 with 1,214 games under his belt.) Not bad, but it won't be as historic as Suzuki, who got his 1,500th hit in his 1,060th game - at the time, the third fastest in MLB history.
Howard Z. Unger is a freelance journalist in Brooklyn, New York. For the past 15 years, he has written about sports, media, and popular culture. His work has appeared in The Village Voice, New York Post, and New York Times.