DETROIT – Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera hit his 500th career home run Sunday and became just the 28th player to join one of Major League Baseball’s most exclusive clubs.
No. 500 was Cabrera’s 362nd bomb as a member of the Tigers (his first 138 came with the Florida Marlins).
It was his 13th home run of the season and his first since Aug. 11, when he blasted No. 499 off of Baltimore Orioles starter Matt Harvey.
Home run counter
With two years left on his contract, the 38-year-old Cabrera can now set his sights on catching some other members of the 500 home run club. Next in line is Eddie Murray, who hit 504 home runs between 1977 and 1997.
At his current pace, Cabrera will likely come up short of Gary Sheffield’s 509 career home runs by the end of the 2021 season. He needs 522 to crack the top 20 all-time.
Only Albert Pujols, of the Los Angeles Dodgers, has more home runs than Cabrera among active players -- fifth all-time with 676 career bombs. At 41 years old, Pujols has 14 homers this season and could potentially catch Alex Rodriguez (696) if he continues to play into next year and beyond.
Cabrera was one of the top hitters in the world during a nine-year span with the Tigers from 2008 through 2016. In that time, he hit .325 with a .404 on-base percentage, .573 slugging percentage, 308 home runs, 340 doubles and 1,030 RBI. He played in seven All-Star games and led the Tigers to four division titles.
Cabrera mashed 44 home runs apiece while winning back-to-back MVP awards in 2012 and 2013. He also brought home the Triple Crown during that magical 2012 season, a feat that hadn’t been accomplished in 45 years and hasn’t been matched since.
Cabrera is also fewer than 50 hits away from joining another elite group: the 3,000 hit club. Only six players in MLB history have 3,000 hits and 500 home runs. He’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer and a generational talent.
Next to 500?
Who will be next to reach 500 home runs? Well, it could be awhile.
Nelson Cruz is the active leader behind Cabrera, but he is still 57 home runs away at age 41. Cruz isn’t showing any signs of slowing down, though, with 24 home runs this year and at least 37 in each of his last six full seasons.
If he continues to play at this level, he would likely join the 500 club in 2023.
Cruz could be baseball’s last hope for 500 homers in the foreseeable future. Robinson Cano, Justin Upton, Joey Votto, Evan Longoria and Chris Davis are all among the top 10 active home run leaders, but none have any chance to reach 500.
Giancarlo Station, at 332, could make a bid. He has elite power and is only 31 years old, but injuries and strikeouts are his greatest barriers. His current contract has six more seasons guaranteed, so he would need to average about 28 home runs per year across those six seasons.
The problem is Stanton has only hit 26 home runs combined in 2019, 2020 and 2021 because of injuries. My gut feeling is he won’t quite get to 500.
Mike Trout will probably reach 500 homers at some point, as long as his recent run of injuries doesn’t worsen as he enters his 30s. Trout is sitting at 310 home runs, so a lot could still happen over the next six or seven seasons.