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Top 25 Baseball Stories of 2018 — No. 18: Albert Pujols notches his 3,000th hit

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We’re a few short days away from 2019 so it’s a good time to look back at the top 25 baseball stories of 2018. Some of them took place on the field, some of them off the field and some of them were more akin to tabloid drama. No matter where the story broke, however, these were the stories baseball fans were talking about most this past year.

Albert Pujols may no longer be the All-Star and MVP he once was, but he’s still out there chugging along. And, like most superstars, he’s spending the twilight of his career notching milestones.

On May 4 he made history by collecting his 3,000th career hit with a base hit off of Mike Leake in the fifth inning of the Angels’ contest against the Mariners. In so doing he became the 32nd major-league hitter — and second Dominican-born player after Adrian Beltre — to produce at least 3,000 hits over the course of his career.

Having already passed the 600 home run mark the year prior,  Pujols’ 3,000th hit put him in rare company: only Hank Aaron (3,771 hits, 755 home runs), Willie Mays (3,283 hits, 660 home runs) and Alex Rodriguez (3,115 hits, 696 home runs) had previously accomplished the feat.

As the season wore on he’d collect 82 more hits, passing the likes of Roberto Clemente, Al Kaline, Wade Boggs, Rod Carew, Rickey Henderson and Craig Biggio on the All-Time list. He’d also achieve a couple more things:

  • In early June he picked up the 1,952nd RBI of his career, passing Hall of Famer Stan Musial for sole possession of seventh place on baseball’s all-time RBI leaderboard; and
  • On July 12 he hit two homers — number 629 and 630 of his career — tying him with Ken Griffey Jr. on the all-time home run list. He’d hit three more over the course of the season to give him sole possession of sixth place on that particular leaderboard. 

Sadly, Pujols’ season ended in August with knee surgery. It happens with age. Due to that age and that deteriorating health, it’s sometimes easy to forget just how dominant a player Pujols was for the first 15 years of his career. But you don’t get to the rarefied air he inhabits without being an all-time great.

Pujols is under contract with the Angels for three more seasons. It’s anyone’s guess as to whether he’ll actually play all three of those seasons. If he does, he’ll likely pass a few more of his fellow all-time greats on various all-time leaderboards.

And if he doesn’t? Hey, who cares? He’s got nothing left to prove to anyone. He hasn’t for a long, long time.

New York Yankees roster and schedule for 2020

Yankees roster and schedule
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The 2020 season is now a 60-game dash, starting on July 23 and ending, hopefully, with a full-size postseason in October. Between now and the start of the season, we’ll be giving quick capsule previews of each team, reminding you of where things stood back in Spring Training and where they stand now as we embark on what is sure to be the strangest season in baseball history. First up: The New York Yankees roster and schedule:

YANKEES ROSTER (projected) 

When the season opens on July 23-24, teams can sport rosters of up to 30 players, with a minimum of 25. Two weeks later, rosters must be reduced to 28 and then, two weeks after that, they must be reduced to 26. Teams will be permitted to add a 27th player for doubleheaders.

In light of that, there is a great degree of latitude for which specific players will break summer camp. For now, though, here are who we expect to be on the Yankees roster to begin the season:

Catchers

Gary Sánchez
Kyle Higashioka

Infielders:

Luke Voit
Mike Ford
DJ LeMahieu
Gio Urshela
Miguel Andújar
Gleyber Torres
Tyler Wade

Outfielders

Aaron Judge
Aaron Hicks
Giancarlo Stanton
Brett Gardner
Mike Tauchman

Starters

Gerrit Cole
Masahiro Tanaka
James Paxton
J.A. Happ
Jordan Montgomery
Jonathan Loaisiga

Relievers

Aroldis Chapman
Zack Britton
Adam Ottavino
Chad Green
Tommy Kahnle
Luis Cessa
Jonathan Holder
Tyler Lyons
David Hale


BREAKDOWN:

It’s weird to say this but the delay to the season due to the pandemic actually helped the Yankees a fair amount. Because of new injuries and extended rehab from older injuries, the very injured 2019 New York Yankees were poised to begin the regular season with many key players on the injured list, including Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks, and James Paxton, among others. It’s not 100% clear if all of those guys will be back and at full strength when the club starts play next week, but Stanton and Paxton seem like a go right now and Judge and Hicks are ramping up.

Obviously the biggest change for 2020, though, is Gerrit Cole, the Yankees big free agent acquisition last winter. Adding arguably the game’s best starter will take a lot of pressure off of the other guys in the rotation and ease the workload of a bullpen that, however deep and talented it is, could still use a break here and there.

With health, hopefully, not the concern it was back in March or last year, we’re left with a Yankees team that (a) has one of the most loaded lineups in the game; (b) features a much-improved rotation with a clear and solid top-four; and (c) has fantastic bullpen talent and depth. Last year’s team, despite all of the injuries, won 103 games. This year’s team is considered the favorite in the American League and, by extension, in all of baseball.

YANKEES SCHEDULE:

Every team will play 60 games. Teams will be playing 40 games against their own division rivals and 20 interleague games against the corresponding geographic division from the other league. Six of the 20 interleague games will be “rivalry” games.

Yankees home stands will be July 29-Aug. 2 (Phillies, Red Sox), Aug. 11-20 (Braves, Red Sox, Rays), Aug. 28-Sept. 2 (Mets, Rays), Sept. 10-17 (Orioles, Blue Jays) and Sept. 25-27 (Marlins). Their rivalry games against the Red Sox will be July 31-Aug. 2 (Yankee Stadium), Aug. 14-17 (Yankee Stadium) and Sept. 18-20 (Fenway Park). Rivalry games against the Mets will be played Aug. 21-23 (Citi Field) and Aug. 28-30 (Yankee Stadium).

The entire Yankees roster and schedule can be seen here.