The Cubs didn’t have what you’d referred to as a memorable season and they’ve done little of note this winter. But a new year means a fresh start and the chance for fans to celebrate their favorite players’ achievements.
Below are a few Cubs milestones we should see this season, including one that will burnish the Hall of Fame credentials of a certain World Series hero.
Nico Hoerner – 1st Stolen Base
After a September 2019 call-up to fill in for the injured Javy Báez, Hoerner posted 22 hits and 17 RBI in 20 games. Hoerner has 14 career steals in the minors and the Cubs believe he can impact the game with his legs, so he should be playing the speed game once he sees more big-league action. Since he looks to be part of the mix at second base and center field for the big club in 2020, I expect him to finish the year with at least 10 steals.
Willson Contreras – 100th HR
Contreras currently has 67 home runs over four seasons. While his high-water mark for dingers in a season is 24, that came in just 105 games in 2019 (409 PA). If he is able to maintain or improve his 5.9% home run rate from 2019 and make at least 550 plate appearances, he should have a chance to belt home run number 100 in late September to put the cherry on top of a career season.
Yu Darvish – 1,500th K
Darvish notched 229 punchouts in 2019 to bring his career total up to 1,299. He has 200+ strikeouts in every season he has pitched at least 170 innings (2012, 2013, 2017, 2019), averaging 260 per season. This means the owner of MLB’s all-time best career K/9 rate (11.1) should record his 1,500th strikeout sometime this year as long as he remains healthy.
Jon Lester – 2,500th K
Lester finished 2019 with 2,355 career strikeouts, good for 53rd place on the all-time list. He is currently 8th among active pitchers, just behind Clayton Kershaw (2,464). Lester has averaged 195 strikeouts per season, so it is safe to say a productive 2020 should see him reaching a career milestone of significance to any pitcher with an eye on the Hall of Fame.
Now let’s just hope the Cubs can put up some numbers where it really counts, in the win column.