The 2023 Major League Baseball season has arrived. This, of course, means that success or failure at the team level – the current standings and pennant races and all of that – takes primary focus. At the same time, however, are individual performances. Yes, the MVP and Cy Young derbies get most of that bandwidth, but let's not forget about veteran performers – many of whom are winding down their careers – closing in on milestones.
Each MLB season brings a new crop of aspiring history-makers, and the 2023 campaign is no exception. Let's have a look at the most notable of these benchmarks that might be reached at some point during this season. In thrilling numerical order!
This is quite exclusive company, as just 19 pitchers have ever struck out 3,000 or more batters in their careers. The 39-year-old Greinke could be next. He picked up four strikeouts in his Opening Day start against the Twins, and now he needs just 114 more to get to 3,000. Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer are the lone active pitchers on the list.
As for Kershaw, he has a heavier lift. He needs 184 more strikeouts after his first, nine-strikeout start of the 2023 season. While he absolutely still has the skills to reach that number, health and durability are bigger concerns for the future Hall of Famer. The lefty hasn't topped 200 strikeouts in a season since 2017.
Andrus will get here straightaway, as he's set for primary duty as the White Sox's shortstop. The rest should also reach 2,000 with ease absent season-altering injury (even Altuve with his season-altering spring injury shouldn't have much a problem).
1,500 managerial wins
Candidate(s): Bob Melvin, Padres
Melvin needs just 64 more wins to become the 25th manager in MLB history to win 1,500 or more games. Given that the Padres have one of the strongest rosters in baseball, he'll get there. Future Hall of Famer? It's time to start asking.
400 home runs
Stanton has topped 30 homers in each of the last two seasons, so recent trends suggest he'll get the 22 he needs to become the 58th member of the 400 Home Run Club.
Assuming health, Jansen will get there, as he needs just nine saves and is in line to work as Boston's closer. Kimbrel is poised for a setup role in Philly, so his status is less certain. That said, finding six saves for Kimbrel seems entirely plausible, and Seranthony Domínguez probably doesn't have an unshakeable hold on the closer's job. Just six pitchers – Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman, Lee Smith, Francisco Rodriguez, John Franco, and Billy Wagner – have reached the 400-save benchmark.
300 home runs
All of these sluggers seem like strong bets to get to 300, which would expand that club to 157 names. McCutchen is 36 and coming off a season in which he hit 17 home runs, so he's probably the closest call of the bunch even considering that Harper will miss at least the first two or three months of the season. As you may have already surmised, Freeman and McCutchen can each get to 2,000 hits and 300 homers this year.
Candidate(s): Justin Verlander, Mets (244 wins)
The reigning AL Cy Young winner and future first-ballot Hall of Famer will reach 250 pitching wins for his career in his first season in Queens, assuming he stays mostly healthy (). The real question is whether Verlander can defy the aging curve long enough to make a run at 300 wins (seems unlikely but don't doubt the decorated moundsman). Once he reaches 250, Verlander will become the 49th pitcher ever to do so.
Candidate(s): Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (198 wins); Adam Wainwright, Cardinals (195 wins)
Kershaw on a powerful Dodgers team should breeze past win No. 200 this season. As for Wainwright, he's on the injured list to start the season, and earlier in the spring had been dealing with velocity loss. It's conceivable that he could lose his rotation spot in his absence if Jake Woodford thrives, so his chase for 200 probably bears closer attention. The guess here, however, is that he reaches it. Presently, 120 pitchers in MLB history have reached 200 or more wins.
Top 15 on managerial wins list
Candidate(s): Terry Francona, Guardians
Francona, who's probably in line for a plaque in Cooperstown one day, right now sits 16th on the all-time manager wins ledger with 1,876 dubs. He needs just 21 more wins this season to pass Bill McKechnie for 15th place on that list. The Guardians are reigning AL Central champs, which means Francona will get there in short order assuming his recent health issues remain at bay. Further up the list, Francona needs just 30 more wins to pass Casey Stengel for 13th place.
Top 10 on managerial wins list
Candidate(s): Bruce Bochy, Rangers
Bochy, who helmed the Padres for years and then led the Giants to three World Series titles, is back in the dugout for the Rangers. He's sitting at 2,005 wins for his career (and 2,029 losses, it must be noted), and he needs just 36 more wins to pass Leo Durocher and Walter Alston and move from 12th to 10th place on the all-time manager wins list. In ninth place is Dusty Baker of the Astros, who's not planning to cede any ground for now.