Venezuela has a proud history for being the home of countless players who have enriched Major League Baseball with their talents. Among those, Andres Galarraga has attained legendary status in his home country for his all-star accomplishments.
The Big Cat finished his 19-year Major League career in 2004 with 2,333 hits, 1,425 RBI’s, a .288/.347/.499 slash line and 399 home runs, tied for No. 52 on the all-time list with Al Kaline and No. 1 among Venezuelan-born players, at least until Miguel Cabrera slugs his next four-bagger for the Detroit Tigers.
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Cabrera tied Galarraga’s mark when he launched a blast over 400-feet to center field in the seventh inning off of the Cardinals’ Mitch Harris. That home run extended the Tigers’ lead to 5-0 in a game they would eventually win 10-4.
This home run record was a milestone Cabrera considered out of reach when he began his career with the Florida Marlins in 2003. During his time in Florida he could walk out of the dugout and look far into the left field upper deck at a specially painted seat, the spot where Galarraga blasted a pitch 529-feet for a grand slam. “Yeah, I tried to hit it over there but I never did,” Cabrera once said. “In BP? Not even close.”
“He had so much power. You can’t do the same thing, what he did, because he hit a lot of home runs with power, like 450, 500-foot home runs. You don’t want to say, ‘I’m going to be better than him.’ My home runs are pretty nice, but 400 (feet).”
Cabrera may only consider his home runs “pretty nice” but at age 32 and in his thirteenth season, eighth with the Tigers, he still has a few prime years to grow that total into a Hall of Fame resume. According to Baseball-reference.com his 162-game home run average is 35. That puts the magic mark of 500 home runs easily within his reach and, barring injury, could have him fast approaching, or even surpassing, the 600 milestone by age 38.
Cabrera is also one of the rare players in baseball history who hits for average as well as power. He has led the American League in home runs twice, RBI’s twice and batting average three times. In 2012 he put those league-leading numbers together to become the first Major Leaguer since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 to win the Triple Crown.
His current career slash line (again according to Baseball-Reference.com) is .320/.397/.564. That batting average ties him for No. 48 on the all-time career list with Tigers’ Hall of Famer Charlie Gehringer and his slugging percentage is No. 13 all-time, ahead of such luminaries as Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle and Hank Aaron.
Cabrera is not only achieved status as the greatest Venezuelan-born player in Major League history; he has also entered the conversation of greatest hitters of all-time, if he had any interest in claiming that honor. “That’s awesome man, but I think I don’t play this game to pass somebody, to be better than somebody, or get more home runs than anybody,” he said in the postgame clubhouse after tying the Galarraga. “I mean, that’s a good number, hopefully I can hit home runs the next couple and we win the game,”