DETROIT – Miguel Cabrera recorded his 3,000th career hit Saturday against the Colorado Rockies, becoming the 33rd MLB player to join that exclusive club, and just the third to do so with the Detroit Tigers.
Cabrera was first at bat in the first inning at the 1:10 p.m. game Saturday. On the first pitch, he swung and fouled it off. The second pitch was a ball. And on the third pitch, Cabrera swung and hit a line drive to right field, landing himself on first base.
Cabrera is one of only seven players in history to reach 3,000 hits and 500 home runs. The six others are Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Eddie Murray, Rafael Palmeiro, Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez.
After racking up 842 hits in his first five seasons with the Marlins, Cabrera’s last 2,158 hits have all come in the Old English D. The only other Tigers to reach 3,000 hits -- Ty Cobb and Al Kaline -- did so entirely in Detroit.
Cobb reached 3,000 hits midway through the 1921 season, his 17th with the Tigers. Kaline did it in 1974, his 22nd and final season -- all in Detroit.
This is the latest of many milestones for Cabrera, a future Hall of Famer who will now set his sights on climbing the all-time hit leaderboard. He’s currently tied with Roberto Clemente for 32nd all-time and could pass Kaline (3,007 hits) and Wade Boggs (3,010) in the next week or two.
Cabrera was the best hitter in the world during a nine-year span 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.
Next to 3,000 hits?
Unlike the 500 home run club, which could add Nelson Cruz by the end of his two-year Washington Nationals contract, it might be a long time before someone else reaches 3,000 hits.
Robinson Cano is closest among active players, but he’s sitting at 81st all-time, with 2,630 career hits. He’s under contract with the New York Mets through next season, but at 39 years old, injuries, suspensions and ineffectiveness have derailed his quest.
The only other active players with 2,000 hits are Yadier Molina, who’s got 2,116 hits at 39 years old, and Joey Votto, who’s at 2,035 hits at 38 years old. Neither will make a run at 3,000.
Both Jose Altuve (1,783 hits) and Freddie Freeman (1,722) are within striking distance in their early 30s, but the odds are against them recording 1,200 more hits, considering they’d likely need at least seven more excellent seasons.
Juan Soto, Ronald Acuna, Vlad Guerrero Jr. and Fernando Tatis are young superstars with the talent to reach 3,000 hits, but none have even gotten to 500 yet, so a lot has to go right.
Bottom line: Unless Cano goes on an unexpected run, baseball will have to wait at least seven or eight years for its next 3,000 hit celebration. If Altuve and Freeman come up short, it will be, at the very least, 12 years away.