Coming attractions

There aren’t any big numbers on the horizon. Nobody is going to reach 500 home runs or 3,000 hits or 300 wins this season.

But several players are poised to attain milestones of lesser magnitude that are nonetheless impressive. Here are a dozen possibilities for 2023.

Clayton Kershaw, 200 wins

  • Status: The lefty starter for the Los Angeles Dodgers began the year with a career total of 197 victories, then picked up his 198th with a dominant six-inning performance against the Arizona Diamondbacks on April 1.

  • Outlook: Kershaw appears to be in fine form, and his goal is within close reach. He could make it to 200 before the end of April.

Kenley Jansen, 400 saves

  • Status: Boston’s rough start has limited the save opportunities for the Red Sox’s new closer. Jansen began the year with 391 and added another in the first week of the season.

  • Outlook: This month appears to be unlikely, but Jansen could reach 400 by mid to late May.

Nolan Arenado, 1,000 runs batted in

  • Status: Arenado posted 968 RBIs in his first 10 years in the majors. He started 2023 for the St. Louis Cardinals in fine fashion and swiftly began adding to his total.

  • Outlook: Who could doubt Arenado’s odds? He has driven home more than 100 runs in each of his last seven full seasons. Look for him to reach 1,000 by late May or early June.

Gerrit Cole, 2,000 strikeouts

  • Status: Cole led the American League in strikeouts in 2019 and again in 2022, piling up a career sum of 1,930 by the end of last year.

  • Outlook: Cole remains a strikeout machine for the New York Yankees, as evidenced by his totals of 11 and eight K’s in his first two starts this year. He seems assured — barring injury, of course — to make it to 2,000 no later than early June.

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Andrew McCutchen, 2,000 hits

  • Status: McCutchen is back in Pittsburgh, where he began his career in 2009 and won a Most Valuable Player Award in 2013. He’s no longer a superstar, yet he still rapped 122 hits last season, pushing his career total to 1,948.

  • Outlook: It remains to be seen how frequently the Pirates will play McCutchen, which makes it difficult to estimate when he’ll make it to 2,000 hits. Pencil him in for mid-June.

Yu Darvish, 100 wins

  • Status: Darvish won 95 games for four different clubs during his first 10 years in the majors. He’s now beginning his third season with the San Diego Padres, who recently locked him up until 2029.

  • Outlook: Darvish posted 16 wins for the Padres last year, so it should be fairly simple for him to get the five more that he needs. He’ll reach the 100-victory threshold by mid-June.

Anthony Rizzo, 300 home runs

  • Status: Rizzo is nearly 34 years old, but he still has plenty of pop in his bat. He blasted 32 homers for the Yankees last season, pushing his career total to 283.

  • Outlook: Rizzo went deep once in the first week of the 2023 season. He can be expected to steadily chip away at his goal of 300 homers, probably reaching it in July.

Freddie Freeman, 2,000 hits

  • Status: Freeman is a hit machine. He amassed 1,704 for the Atlanta Braves between 2010 and 2021, then added 199 for the Dodgers last year. That’s a grand total of 1,903.

  • Outlook: Freeman started 2023 on fire, raising the possibility that he might make it to 2,000 hits by midseason. Let’s say early July.

Giancarlo Stanton, 400 home runs

  • Status: Stanton is an enigma. He’s one of the game’s most feared hitters when he’s healthy, but he’s also unhappily familiar with the injured list. He played more than 140 games in only four of his first 13 seasons, piling up 378 homers along the way.

  • Outlook: So when will Stanton make it to 400? If he stays healthy — an important if — he could do it as soon as July.

Jose Altuve, 1,000 runs scored

  • Status: This one is difficult. The second baseman for the Houston Astros ended 2022 with 986 runs scored in 12 seasons, including a combined total of 220 runs the past two years. He was expected to quickly reach 1,000, but that was before he landed on the injured list.

  • Outlook: Altuve’s fractured thumb will keep him off the field until June, perhaps even longer. If he returns by the All-Star break, he should reach 1,000 runs in August.

Adam Wainwright, 200 wins

  • Status: This is the final season for Wainwright, who turns 42 in August. He won 11 games for the Cardinals last year, upping his career count to 195.

  • Outlook: Five wins don’t come easily for most pitchers in their 40s, but Wainwright is still capable of posting a sub-4.00 ERA, as he did the past three years. His only problem is a groin strain that sidelined him before the start of the 2023 season. An optimistic outlook is that he returns in several weeks and notches his 200th win in August.

Bryce Harper, 300 home runs

  • Status: Harper had Tommy John surgery in the offseason, and his return date is up in the air. Optimists suggest that he could rejoin the Philadelphia Phillies in late May. Pessimists peg the date in July. His 2023 season, whenever it begins, will start with a career total of 285 homers.

  • Outlook: Harper hit a combined total of 70 home runs the past two years, so he could easily attain the necessary 15 in half a season. Estimating a date for that milestone is difficult, given the uncertainty about the pace of his recovery. Let’s play it conservatively and say September.

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