Detroit Tigers: Miguel Cabrera to join The Hammer

Miguel Cabrera celebrates after hitting his 500th career home run. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Miguel Cabrera celebrates after hitting his 500th career home run. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers is on the precipice of joining a club with merely a solitary member to this point…The Hammer himself, the late great Henry Aaron.

Hopefully early this season, Cabrera will eventually join Aaron as the only two baseball players in MLB history to bat .300+ and accrue 3000+ hits, 500+ Homers, and 600+ Doubles.

“Greatness…party of 2. Your table is nearly ready.”

Aaron is baseball royalty. He’s still the Home Run King in the eyes of some no matter the number after Barry Bonds’ name. Sadly, Hammerin’ Hank left us in 2021 at the age of 86 and won’t see Cabrera join him in this small club they’ll inhabit together. The longtime Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves mega-star played 23 big league seasons with an amazing 755 homers, 624 doubles, 3771 hits and a career .305 batting average.

Cabrera, a two-time MVP winner with a Triple Crown on his resume, will be kicking off his 20th MLB campaign later this week. Cabrera’s career is winding down, so he’ll not sniff Aaron in homers and hits. But his .310 career batting average outpaces Aaron, and Cabrera will at least have a shot at passing Aaron’s two-bagger total.

The chase winds down

As the 2022 season gets ready to kick off after a rush-job Spring Training, it’s important to take stock of all things possible this season. The Detroit Tigers are featuring several young players who they hope help them out of the doldrums they’ve suffered for the last few years. With an extra playoff spot now available, many believe the Tigers could be a dark horse in the American League to vie for it. We’ll know how that goes over the course of the year.

It’s a mildly forgotten veteran superstar in Cabrera who should be providing some early highlights as he climbs baseball’s statistical ladder once again. Cabrera’s chase seems a slight afterthought because talk in Detroit nowadays is centered around the starting rotation, the emergence of Riley Greene, or the signing of Javier Baez.

For instance, on the Tigers Radio Podcast last week the three handsome and congenial hosts spent 45 minutes discussing a dozen Detroit Tigers topics with radio play-by-play man Dan Dickerson, and it was pointed out Cabrera wasn’t mentioned once. Unthinkable a half-decade ago.

Cabrera is merely 13 knocks away from the coveted 3000 Hits Club and baseball immortality. If just three of those 13 hits are doubles that would put Cabrera at 600 two-baggers among his 3000 hits.

The countdown to 3000 will hopefully wind to an end with the big hit coming at Comerica Park. The Tigers faithful didn’t get to witness last year’s thrilling 500th homer in person. The blast came in Toronto instead.

Either way it will be another time of grand tribute to one of baseball’s most immense talents of the 21st Century. Cabrera has used his strong and graceful swing to thrill fans with an array of bat skills few have ever matched.

Need a homer to swing a game’s momentum? Cabrera would launch a ball into the opposite field bleachers with minimal effort. You want a double to clear the bags? Cabrera would hammer a flaming rocket up the gap. A single to simply win the game? No problem. A little liner to find grass was a standby of his.

It will be grand fun to see Cabrera hit the milestones. It will harken back to 2012’s Triple Crown campaign and the back-to-back MVP’s in ‘12 and ‘13. All the amazing game-winning hits. The famous battle with Mariano Rivera. Terrorizing the dreams of Cleveland relievers. Hundreds of others moments of greatness and dominance.

On the way out

This will be good because it will erase some of the painful times Cabrera has suffered over the last few seasons. The indignities of various injuries and the declining skills you can chalk up to the aging process. Cabrera has really never complained about his fate. He’s done his best to contribute when he’s on the field. But the end comes for every ball player. It happens fast for some. Others like Cabrera, helped by a massive long term contract, get to linger a long while with a slow fade.

Cabrera knows the end is creeping up. His emotional passing of the torch at first base to young phenom Spencer Torkelson was extremely classy, but also a hat tip to toward his looming retirement.

The hope here is he enjoys his upcoming celebrations. He’s earned them. If the Detroit Tigers can make a run at the playoffs to send Cabrera out on a high team note either this season or next (assuming Cabrera returns in ‘23) it would be all the more fitting to see Cabrera get more post-season at-bats in his career.

Also it’s nice to at least imagine the always gracious Henry Aaron looking down and giving a “way to go” thumbs up for joining their special little two-man club.

"(Special thanks to my friend Dave Siglin for pointing out the club Cabrera will join solely with Aaron. Some probably think Dave’s expertise is mostly in music after his days at The Ark in Ann Arbor…but his knowledge of our great game stacks up higher than just about any fan out there!)"

Next. Detroit Tigers Sunday Notes. dark