You asked for it, and now you’ve got it: The 2015 Detroit Tigers Career Milestone Watch. Even if it turns out that the Tigers as a team aren’t so hot this summer, there’s still some individual target numbers that fans and players can look forward to as the months roll along.
Miguel Cabrera: Currently, he is tied with Graig Nettles for 58th on the all-time home run list with 390. Barring catastrophe, he is a cinch to reach 400 this summer. Of Miggy’s home runs, 252 of them were hit as a member of the Tigers. That places him at number five all-time in franchise history, behind Al Kaline (399), Norm Cash (373), Hank Greenberg (306), and Willie Horton (262). Miggy should pass Horton this year, and Greenberg sometime in 2016. Will he remain healthy and productive long enough to approach Cash and Kaline? Time will tell. Cabrera is also a good bet to reach 500 career doubles this summer. He needs only 36 to do so. If Miggy bounces back completely and has a monster year, it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that he attains 1,500 career RBIs (he needs 131).
Yoenis Cespedes: He’s never hit more than 26 home runs in his three big-league seasons. But he is 29 short of 100 for his career. It is not as much of a longshot this season as it would appear. In Oakland, Cespedes played in the Coliseum, a tough place for home run hitters, especially at night. Comerica Park plays more neutral, which could be to his benefit. We’re going to make a bold prediction and say Cespedes tops 30 bombs this year.
Ian Kinsler: Needs 13 stolen bases to reach 200, and is 11 doubles shy of 300. Wake me when it happens.
Victor Martinez: He is approaching a couple of statistical milestones this summer. He needs 73 RBIs for 1,000, and is 11 bombs short of the 200-homer club. Given management’s rosy prognosis following his successful meniscus surgery, those numbers suddenly seem a safer bet.
Joe Nathan: Who the closer will be this year is anybody’s guess. Nathan? Joakim Soria? Bruce Rondon? Nathan was a great one before joining the Tigers, but endured a rocky 2014. He is in seventh place on baseball’s all-time saves list, with 376. In sixth place is Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley with 390. If Nathan is the closer most of the summer, he should top 400 career saves. Even if he has a diminished role, he still may pass Eckersley, and is likely to reach 1,000 career strikeouts (he has 966). Heck, if nothing else works, Detroit could bring back Jose Valverde, who is only 12 saves shy of 300 in his career.
David Price: With 14 wins, he’ll reach 100. Our bet is that Price will have an awesome contract year. He’ll need to if the Tigers are going to go anywhere.
Joakim Soria: With 22 saves, he’ll reach 200 lifetime. Soria could surprise everyone and take over the closer role on this team. Or he could just as easily be gone by May.
Justin Verlander: If he wins ten games, he will have done so for the tenth consecutive season. Nine more wins, and he ties Dizzy Trout for seventh place on the all-time Tiger victory list with 161 (Next up after that is Tommy Bridges at 194). He is also third in franchise history with 1,830 strikeouts (Mickey Lolich tops the list with 2,679, followed by Jack Morris with 1,980.). Verlander needs 170 K’s to reach the 2,000 milestone this season. That is no guarantee. His strikeout totals the past six years have been dropping at nearly the same rate as McDonald’s stock: 269, 219, 250, 239, 217, and 159. One of the more intriguing questions going into 2015 is just what kind of pitcher Verlander is going to be.