Derek Jeter's pursuit of 3,000 career hits is getting a lot of attention, but a handful of other batters are approaching big round numbers of their own.
These days, the big story around baseball is Derek Jeter's pursuit of his 3,185th career hit. For whatever reason, everybody's completely ignoring the fact that he's collected 185 hits in the playoffs, but, whatever, this is the way people talk about statistics, so this is the way we'll talk about statistics. Jeter is chasing after career regular season hit number 3,000, and with 2,996 already under his belt, the big moment is only days away.
But Jeter is only one of a handful of position players who are nearing a big, round, historically relevant career total. What follows is an incomplete list of the others. Many of the following marks will be achieved with less fanfare, but that doesn't necessarily make them any less meaningful, and/or any less interesting.
Jim Thome: 600 home runs
Jeter is only four hits away from joining a club with 27 members, but Thome is five dingers away from joining a club with seven members. And since three of those members are Sammy Sosa, Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds, Thome stands to receive quite the ovation. He has only six homers so far in 2011 and he's dealt with a number of injuries, so there's no telling when he'll slug the big one, but all it could take are one or two hot healthy weeks, or one game against Bronson Arroyo.
Todd Helton: 4,000 total bases
Throughout baseball history, 79 hitters have collected at least 4,000 total bases. This isn't nearly as exclusive a club as the one Jeter's going to join, or the one Thome's going to join. But Helton's 43 bases away from what's still an impressive mark, and what's most impressive is that he's hitting the crap out of the ball in 2011 when I just kind of assumed he started sliding downhill around 2008. Fun fact: Helton hasn't hit 20 home runs in a season since 2005. Despite that, he's posted a 117 OPS+ since 2006.
Chipper Jones: 1,000 extra-base hits
Jones doubled on Tuesday, bringing him up to 996 career extra-base hits - 515 doubles, 38 triples, and 443 home runs. As such, he leaves behind Al Simmons and ties Honus Wagner. Within a week or three, he'll get to four digits, becoming the 34th player to do so in baseball history. Your Chipper Jones fun fact: the lowest single-season OPS+ of Jones' career is 108, in his rookie year. At Chipper Jones' worst, he was 8% better than league-average at the plate.
Vladimir Guerrero: 250 intentional walks
Guerrero is only one away, although what makes this tricky is that he is bad now and no longer worth walking on purpose. Still, you figure it'll happen eventually, maybe when the opposing team needs to set up a force. Guerrero is actually fourth all-time in intentional walks, ahead of Ken Griffey Jr. and a closing Albert Pujols. He is 11 behind Willie McCovey, 44 behind Hank Aaron, and 439 behind Barry Bonds. I don't think people really appreciated the whole Barry Bonds experience at the time.
Ivan Rodriguez: 350 double plays
Why is 350 double plays significant? Because Cal Ripken is the all-time leader with 350 double plays hit into, and Pudge is only 14 away. Playing time is going to be a problem, since Rodriguez is 39 now and no longer a starter, but his reputation may get him there yet before he has to hang up his cleats. What's funny about the GIDP leaderboard is that you have to be really good for a really long time to end up on a list that makes you look this bad. Ripken. Rodriguez. Hank Aaron. Carl Yastrzemski. Dave Winfield. These are your GIDP top five.
Juan Pierre: 200 caught steals
As with Pudge, this is a mark Pierre doesn't want to reach, and as with Pudge, this is a mark that'll be hard to reach in 2011, but Pierre is 17 away, and he's averaged about that many per season, so he'll get there at some point, since he's only 33. Pierre is tenth all-time in caught steals, and is drawing mighty close to Otis Nixon and Rod Carew. Only five players have ever reached 200, so Pierre stands to enter rarefied air before long.