The Yankees have five players who have played for 15 seasons or more currently slated to start the new decade. Six if you count Johnny Damon, who hasn’t ruled out anything yet.
If you haven’t guessed them already, the five 15-year vets are Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez (16), Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte. All of whom are coming up on milestones — some bigger than others — and have a good chance of reaching them or coming close to reaching them this season.
- 3,000 hits — Probably the biggest statistical milestone for the type of player he is to reach. He stands at 2,747 now, leaving him 253 hits short. His highest ever was 219 back in 199, so he’s got virtually no shot at reaching it until 2011. This means he’ll have to sign another contract if he wants to do it with the Yankees, which I hope is no doubt a goal in his mind. Passing Lou Gehrig on the all-time hit list in 2009 was a great honor (I was at the Stadium when he broke it!), but becoming the first Yankee with 3,000 hits would be even greater.
- 250 home runs — Definitely a notable milestone for Jeter. Not many players with career .459 slugging percentage or less have reached 250 blasts. Adrian Beltre (250 exactly) is the only active player to accomplish the feat.
- 10,000 plate appearances — Jeter has dug his cleats into the batter’s box 9,809 times in his career, which means he’ll surely reach 10,000 this year. If he stays off the DL, he’s expected to hit 10,000 in late May or early June.
- 600 home runs — Yup. With the help of PEDs, A-Rod’s going to become just the seventh player in baseball history with 600 homers if he crush 17 more in 2010. He’s blasted at least 30 for the past 12 years, so it’s hard to bet against him not reaching the milestone.
- 10,000 plate appearances — With 9,611 PAs under his belt, he’ll easily surpass 10,000 plate appearances if he can stay healthy, like Jeter. Expect him to eclipse 10,000 sometime after the All-Star break.
- 1,500 hits — Sitting at 1,488, he should be able to get the 12 needed in April. Halfway to 3,000 is quite an accomplishment for a catcher. Keep in mind, 86 of those hits don’t count because he wasn’t at catcher when he got the hits. If he can duplicate last year’s total as a catcher, he’ll actually reach 1,500 on the dot.
- 250 home runs — He’s just seven shy of 250 dingers heading into 2010. If he stays healthy, expect him to hit the milestone in May. Once again, he has 233 homers while catching, so he’ll actually need to have a pretty good year to reach 250 as a catcher.
- 3,000 innings pitched — The Texas-grown southpaw is a mere 73-2/3 IP shy of 3,000 for his career. He notched his 3,000th K last year, and will easily reach 3,000 innings before the All-Star break if healthy.
- 500 games — Pettitte’s been extremely healthy over the past five years (knock on wood), and at his current pace he should pitch in his 500th game by September. Currently, he’s 32 shy (last year’s total), so even a 15-day DL visit would probably push reaching the milestone to 2011.
- All-time saves leader — With only Trevor Hoffman ahead of him in the saves category, he’ll have to outlast Hoffmann to become the record holder. However, it’s not a very well-known record, making it less important. A few years ago, a guy very few people realized held the record, Lee Smith. But becoming the record holder eventually would be the icing on the cake of his Hall of Fame career. When his career is done, he’ll be known as the best closer of all-time, no matter what, because of his postseason fame. Still, he should have the most saves just so nobody questions his greatness, right?
After getting his first RBI and 500th save last year in the same game, plus reaching 1,000 strikeouts, Mo isn’t expected to eclipse any other important milestones in 2010. He’s done all that a reliever can do except reach 1,000 games pitched. But standing at 917, he’ll have to wait until 2011 for that feat.