Miguel Cabrera has collected his 3,000th hit. Cabrera started his MLB career in 2003, the year I graduated high school, which seems mind-blowing to me. Barry Bonds was the National League MVP that season. I've since lived what feels like an entire adult life in the time that Miguel Cabrera has put forth a hall of fame-worthy career. Since Cabrera's career started, we have seen four US Presidents, the birth of the smartphone, streaming television, and NFTs.
A Generational Player
Cabrera now has 3,000 hits. His overall numbers are a resume for a hall of fame career. 502 home runs, 599 doubles, 1807 RBIs, 68.8 WAR, 919 career OPS, 144 career OPS+, two MVPs, four batting title crowns, two home run crowns, seven silver sluggers, 11 all-star selections, and a World Series championship. Beyond that, Miguel Cabrera is the last person to win the MLB Triple Crown. If you're unfamiliar, that is leading the league in home runs, RBIs, and batting average. The last person to win the triple crown before Cabrera was Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.
Both batting average and RBIs are indeed statistics that are largely phased out of popularity. RBIs are seen as a stat that depends greatly on luck depending on the player's position in the batting order. Batting average has been criticized in favor of overall on-base percentage, as getting on base through a walk or a single yields the same result. as for doubles, triples, and home runs—slugging is a statistic that differentiates OBP and batting average. OPS, which combines on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Cabrera's accomplishment as the last Triple Crown winner during his prime makes him the last in the line of high-average, high-power hitters.
Only six players have 500 home runs and 3,000 hits. Those guys are Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Alex Rodriguez, Eddie Murray, Albert Pujols, and Rafael Palmiero. A few of those names don't garner the same respect as they once did, for reasons I obviously won't parse here.
From 2004 to 2016, Cabrera was Ruthian. In those 13 seasons, Cabrera slashed .323/.402/.566 with 434 home runs and a 155 wRC+. From 2011 to 2015 his numbers look like my "Road to the Show" create a player on MLB The Show.
Cabrera also tops the list of the greatest Venezuelan players to ever play in MLB. That is impressive because there are some terrific players on that list. Magglio Ordóñez, Bobby Abreu, Felix Hernandez, Jose Altuve, and Andrés Galarraga would probably round out the top 6-7 names in that regard.
As far as all-time Tiger greats, Cabrera has to look up at Ty Cobb, Al Kaline, and Hank Greenberg for a lot of records. Ty Cobb is a cheat code when it comes to records, so that seems a little unfair. Had Cabrera played his entire career in Detroit, he'd be at the top or closer to the top on a lot of those individual records. It isn't Cabrera's fault for playing in the modern era where players don't often play for only one team their entire career.
When Cabrera hangs up his cleats, he'll be remembered as one of the best all-around hitters to ever pick up a bat. At his best, he was one of the best right-handed hitters of all time.