With the shortened MLB schedule of just 60 games this year, some players' pursuits for career records and milestones have become much more challenging than they would have been in a normal, 162-game season. Still, it's baseball so this unique regular season is bound to bring us plenty of surprises. There's a chance for history to be made in the condensed 2020 campaign with several star players nearing significant career milestones.
Here are some of the milestones to keep an eye on as the 2020 season continues:
When will Pujols pass Mays?
Entering Sunday, Angels slugger Albert Pujols remains one home run away from tying Willie Mays for fifth place on all-time home run list.
- Barry Bonds: 762
- Hank Aaron: 755
- Babe Ruth: 714
- Alex Rodriguez: 696
- Willie Mays: 660
- Albert Pujols: 659
After homering in back-to-back games, Pujols moved closer to tying Mays. Pujols also has 2,082 career RBI, which is fourth all-time behind Hank Aaron (2,297), Babe Ruth (2,214) and Alex Rodriguez (2,086). Pujols can move into third place all-time as he's just five RBI away from passing Rodriguez. For the season, he's knocked three homers with seven RBI and a .594 OPS. Pujols wasn't in the lineup for Sunday's game against the Rangers, but he should return for this week's two-game series against the Athletics at Angel Stadium.
Pujols, 40, is in his 20th MLB season and the ninth year of a 10-year, $240 million contract with the Angels. The future Hall of Famer is already regarded as one of the best hitters in baseball history, and while his power has regressed as he aged, he'll still have a chance to add to his legacy this season.
Yadi eyeing 2,000th hit
Longtime Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina has a chance to surpass 2,000 hits this season. As of Sunday, Molina, 38, is 33 hits shy of reaching the 2,000 milestone mark. Of the 19 catchers in the Baseball Hall of Fame, seven have recorded the 2,000 hits. Here's his career stats:
Molina was one of the several Cardinals who tested positive for the coronavirus and the team has not played since July 29. He's reportedly asymptomatic but won't be able to return from the injured list until testing negative for the virus twice. The 2020 season is Molina's 17th year in the big leagues, and it's the last year of his three-year, $60 million contract with the Cards. The two-time World Series champion
Trout nearing 300 homers
It seems like Angels star outfielder Mike Trout reaches a new, impressive achievement every year. Like his Angels teammate Pujols, Trout has a chance to reach a home run milestone of his own. This season, the three-time AL MVP has the chance to reach 300 career home runs. As of Sunday, Trout has 290 homers, needing just 10 more to get to 300. After making his MLB debut in 2012, Trout has been an All-Star in each of his MLB seasons. Trout, who just turned 29, has hit over 30 home runs in a season, six times.
Chapman trying to join 300-save club
Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman has yet to make his 2020 season debut since he tested positive for COVID-19 and experienced mild symptoms last month. But, the 32-year-old might be able to still hit a milestone if he's cleared to return sooner rather than later. Last year, Chapman saved 37 games, bringing his career saves total to 273. So, he's just 27 saves away from hitting the 300 career saves mark -- a mark he seems likely to hit in 2021. Only 30 MLB closers have ever saved at least 300 games. Three pitchers who hit the 300-mark are still active in the big leagues: Craig Kimbrel (346), Fernando Rodney (327) and Kenley Jansen (305).
Lester less than 10 wins away from 200
Cubs starter Jon Lester is nearing the 200-win mark. As of Sunday, the southpaw has 191 wins. Lester, 36, has the third most wins among active pitchers, Astros teammates Zack Greinke (205) and Justin Verlander (226) only have more. Last season, Lester finished 13-10, and he's won at least 10 games every season since 2013. The total number of games dropping from 162 to 60 certainly make it unlikely for Lester to reach this mark, but the veteran starter still has a shot.
Verlander could hit 3K IP if he returns
Astros ace Justin Verlander was shut down after his first start of the 2020 season with a right forearm strain. Verlander, 37, confirmed that there's a possibility for him to return at some point in 2020. His availability for later in the season could become more clear once he's reevaluated after his period of rest. However, the deadline is tight for a potential return considering the shortened season. Either way, the milestone we're focusing on for Verlander is the 3,000 innings pitched mark. Right now, Verlander is at 2,988 innings pitched, so he needs just 12 more to reach the 3,000 mark. Last season, Verlander joined the 3,000-strikeout club.
Other notable milestones for 2020 and beyond
- Clayton Kershaw: 2,500 strikeouts (currently 2,476)
- Miguel Cabrera: 500 home runs, 3,000 hits (currently 481 HR, 2,824 H)
- Max Scherzer: 3,000 strikeouts (currently 2,714)
- Elvis Andrus: 400 steals (currently 305)
- Nelson Cruz: 450 homers (currently 405)
- Edwin Encarnacion: 450 homers (currently 415)
- Cole Hamels: 200 wins (currently 163)
- Nick Markakis: 2,500 hits (current 2,357)
- Joey Votto: 500 doubles (currently 404)
*Stats as of Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020