NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Tuesday, February 9, 2016, 1:02 PM
Alex Rodriguez takes a curtain call after his solo home run to surpass Willie Mayes on the all-time home run list with 661 homers.
You thought last season was a milestone-fest for Alex Rodriguez, but 2016 could be more of the same for the Yankee designated hitter, who is approaching some pretty gaudy baseball numbers.
A-Rod has 687 career home runs, meaning he needs only 13 more to join Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) as the only members of the 700-homer club. If Rodriguez totals 28 homers — he had 33 last year in his first season back from his drug suspension — he’ll have 715, eclipsing The Bambino’s hallowed total, one of the most recognizable stats in sports.
Three other Yankees have a shot at some interesting milestones this season, as does a longtime Bronx tormentor, David Ortiz. Here’s a look at some of the more intriguing numbers we could be celebrating in this upcoming season, thanks to some help from baseball-reference.com and its MLB Milestone Watch section.
Rodriguez, who will turn 41 in July, is no stranger to vaulting up baseball’s leaderboards. Last season, it seemed like they were stopping every other Yankee game to acknowledge some feat of his, since he passed Willie Mays’ total of 660 homers, passed Lou Gehrig for most RBI in American League history, cracked the 2,000-RBI plateau and got his 3,000th hit — a homer off Justin Verlander.
Oh, and he also tied Aaron for the most 30-homer seasons in history — 14.
Another A-Rod milestone-to-watch this year? He just needs 40 hits to tie Dave Winfield (3,110) for 20th place on the hit list. Wonder if the Yanks will have their old outfielder on hand if Rodriguez matches Winfield at home?
If you prefer negative stats, well, A-Rod needs only 86 strikeouts to tie Sammy Sosa for fourth on the all-time list at 2,306.
As for other Yankees chasing numbers, who ya got in the race to 400 homers, Carlos Beltran or Mark Teixeira? Teixeira has a slight early edge, since he needs only six circuit clouts and Beltran is eight short.
Red Sox DH David Ortiz steps out of the dugout before ceremonies to honor his 500 HRs.
With seven strikeouts, CC Sabathia will tie Bob Feller for 26th all time. Rapid Robert finished his career with 2,581 punchouts. First start or second for Sabathia, do you think?
Ortiz, who has already announced he’s retiring after the season, should have quite a farewell tour if he keeps hitting home runs. He’ll start the season at 503 and, since there are so many sluggers bunched together on the list nearby, every Big Papi swing will feel like an event.
If Ortiz hits the same 37 homers he did last year, he’ll pass this calvalcade of stars — Eddie Murray, Gary Sheffield, Mel Ott, Eddie Mathews, Ernie Banks, Ted Willams, Willie McCovey, Frank Thomas, Jimmie Foxx and Mickey Mantle and settle into 17th place all time at 540.
Other digits to note: Ichiro Suzuki is 65 hits shy of getting to 3,000 in the majors. It would be an astounding accomplishment considering Ichiro didn’t play his first Major League game until he was 27. The Japanese star, who turned 42 in October, also needs just 44 hits to pass Pete Rose for most hits all-time, factoring in the 1,278 he accumulated in Japan. If Texas’ Adrian Beltre goes bonkers, he could get his 3,000th hit this year. But he’d have to have a ridiculous — and unlikely — season since he’s got 2,767 entering the year and his career high is 200 in one season. Think 2017, Adrian.
Speaking of big years, if Albert Pujols matches the 40 homers had head for the Angels last year, he’ll get to 600 on the dot and be only the ninth player in the 600 club.