Milestones on tap for '06
Rollins, Hoffman threaten all-time marks this season
Barry Bonds is famous for driving the ball out of the park. Jimmy Rollins' game is slash-and-dash. Two different styles of offensive talent, but these National Leaguers currently share center stage as Major League Baseball prepares to raise the curtain on the 2006 season with some major records dangling in front of Bonds and Rollins.
When you're chasing names like Joe DiMaggio, Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron, the scrutiny is intense and the intrigue mounts daily. Rollins ended the 2005 season with a 36-game hitting streak and resumes his chase of DiMaggio's hallowed 56-game hitting streak on Monday when the Phillies open against the Cardinals.
Although DiMaggio's single-season record will remain intact, Rollins could set a multi-season record that would leave fans in Philadelphia and elsewhere in a state of amazement. Whether it's over one season or two, a 57-game hitting streak would boggle the minds of those who never expected DiMaggio's consistency mark to be seriously threatened.
"It's almost unimaginable that someone can even hit in that many games straight, but here I am across the halfway point," Rollins said at the beginning of Spring Training. "This is when it gets tough."
There are different schools of thought on whether Rollins has been helped or hurt by the offseason interruption. Some say stamina would have been a factor had he kept going in pursuit of DiMaggio last year. Others say the Philadelphia shortstop was in such a good groove that it would have been in his favor to have kept going.
The Rollins drama could either end abruptly or mushroom into an even bigger saga with continuous at-bat updates. Meanwhile, it's seemingly not a question of if, but when, Bonds will roll past Ruth for second-place on the all-time home run list. The San Francisco left fielder opens the season with 708 homers and needs just seven to pass Ruth. Then the question will be whether Bonds will pass Aaron's mark of 755 homers.
While Bonds and Rollins begin the year chasing some revered baseball numbers, several other players are taking aim on some celebrated milestones.
In Houston, fans of the defending National League champion Astros will watch veteran second baseman Craig Biggio continue his pursuit of 3,000 hits. Biggio begins the season with 2,795 hits. Based on his track record, and assuming he stays healthy, Biggio should get to 3,000 early in 2007 if not this season. When he gets his 18th hit this year, Biggio will pass George Sisler for 42nd place on the all-time list.
All-time Consecutive Game Hitting Streaks
|Jimmy Rollins enters the 2006 season chasing history.|
|56||Joe DiMaggio||NY Yankees||1941|
|52||Denny Lyons||Philadelphia A's||1887|
|44||Pete Rose||Cincinnati Reds||1978|
|44||Willie Keeler||Baltimore Orioles||1897|
|42||Bill Dahlen||Chicago Cubs||1894|
|41||George Sisler||St. Louis Browns||1922|
|40||Ty Cobb||Detroit Tigers||1911|
|39||Paul Molitor||Milwaukee Brewers||1987|
|37||Tommy Holmes||Boston Braves||1945|
|36||Jimmy Rollins||Philadelphia Phillies||2005|
Meanwhile, left-handers Tom Glavine and Randy Johnson are bearing down on the 300-win plateau. Glavine starts the season with 275 wins and needs just nine to pass Jim Kaat for 29th place all-time. Johnson has 263 wins and needs two to pass Gus Weyhing for 37th place all-time.
Padres closer Trevor Hoffman has 436 saves, leaving him just 43 away from breaking Lee Smith's all-time mark. But even if Hoffman shoots past Smith, the record may not stand for long. Lurking in Hoffman's rear-view mirror is Mariano Rivera, who opens the year with 379 saves.
Though Bonds dominates the home run attention, several other power hitters are poised to move up the all-time ranks in 2006. That list includes Ken Griffey Jr. (536), Gary Sheffield (449), Frank Thomas (448), Manny Ramirez (435), Juan Gonzalez (434), Jim Thome (430), Alex Rodriguez (429), Mike Piazza (397) and Carlos Delgado (369). Jeff Bagwell, with 449 homers, has at least temporarily put his career on hold. But Bagwell would also be among the power guys looking to build on a glowing home run resume if he could move past his shoulder difficulties.
Bonds, who has indicated this could be his final season, is prominent in many categories besides home runs. He has 1,853 runs batted in and would pass his godfather, Willie Mays, for ninth on the all-time list with 51 more.
Cubs' right-hander Greg Maddux will look to build on a stellar career in '06 and could pass some elite pitchers in wins and strikeouts. Maddux has 3,052 strikeouts and needs 141 to pass Bob Gibson for 12th place all-time. Maddux starts the year with 318 wins and needs seven to pass Nolan Ryan and Don Sutton for 13th place all-time.
Longtime outfielder Kenny Lofton, who has surfaced with the Dodgers, will start the year with 567 stolen bases. He needs just eight to pass Hugh Duffy for 20th place all-time.
If Roger Clemens comes back in May or later, he would be on the verge of adding to an illustrious set of numbers. Clemens has 341 wins and needs two to pass Tim Keefe for eighth place all-time. One more shutout would give Clemens 47 and send him past Tommy John and Jack Powell for 26th place all-time.
Robert Falkoff is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.