Baseball is a team game. No matter how good an individual player is, he's limited to one out of every nine of his team's plate appearances. It's rare for pitchers (even stars) to complete starts. It takes the combined efforts of all nine players in the lineup to win a game and it takes the combined efforts of 25 players to win a championship.
Despite all the stories extolling the virtues of teamwork, baseball is also an individual game. Each plate appearance is an individual showdown. In addition to knowing their team's won-loss record, many fans can tell you how many home runs their cleanup hitter has, how many .300 hitters are in the lineup, and the ERA of the staff ace. While most players put team success over individual numbers, they'd be lying if they said reaching milestones in any number of statistical categories isn't a special thing.
Let's take a look at some of the milestones Brewers players may reach in 2009:
- Bullpen hopeful Jorge Julio is one save away from 100 for his career. He would become the 119th player to reach triple digits. He hasn't picked up a save since the 2006 season, 106 appearances ago. Last year seven different Brewers picked up a save, so Julio's got a shot if he breaks camp with the team.
- Trevor Hoffman has appeared in 70 games three times in his career, but not since 2000. If the Brewers win enough to need him in 70 games, he'll end 2009 with 1000 career games pitched, enough to place him 14th on the all-time list.
- In the past three seasons, Craig Counsell has hit 14, 12, and 14 doubles. If he raps out 14 in 2009, he'll have 200 for his career.
- When Ryan Braun hits his 27th home run of the season, he'll become only the sixth player in major league history to hit 100 home runs over his first three seasons. If he reaches 41 homers, he'll tie the record held by Ralph Kiner and Albert Pujols.
Prince Fielder is two inside-the-park home runs away from 500 career hits.
- We're all familiar with Dave Bush's tendency to give up home runs. If he allows seventeen bombs this year, he'll become only the thirteenth pitcher to give up 100 HR as a Brewer.
- Think he'll break out this year? Even if he doesn't, he's certainly capable of stealing 22 bases. If he does, Rickie Weeks will have 100 steals for his career.
- It might not be one of his goals going into the year, but Corey Hart is only fourteen walks away from 100 career BB. So...August?
- Last year Jason Kendall recorded a career high 1025 putouts behind the plate. He may not play as much this season, but he's only 370 putouts away from Gary Carter's major league record of 11785 in a career. If Kendall records putouts at his career average of 6.43 per game, he'll set the record in his 58th game. As you might expect, he's also close to the total chances record, needing only 588 more to steal that from Carter.
- I know I prefaced this list by talking about milestones and how they're special to individual players but I wanted to point out this team one. When the Brewers win their 55th game this season, it will be the team's 3000th victory since moving to Milwaukee before the 1970 season. Let's hope we see #3035 this year.