On Saturday afternoon, as he has done countless times before, Miguel Cabrera ripped a single through the right side of the infield. But this was no ordinary single: it was the 3,000th hit of his Hall of Fame-caliber career.
Nearly 19 years ago, Miggy broke through to the major leagues with the then-Florida Marlins. He was widely regarded as an elite prospect, but quickly exceeded the hype by propelling the club to the 2003 World Series title.
Cabrera had a .313 batting average during his Marlins tenure. That still stands as the franchise record among those to play at least 162 career games for the Fish.
The decision to trade Cabrera to the Detroit Tigers at the 2007 MLB Winter Meetings was excruciatingly painful for Marlins fans, losing a champion and perennial All-Star who still had the potential to get even better. With the Tigers in the early 2010s, Cabrera established himself as the very best hitter on the planet.
Even since exiting his prime, Cabrera’s outstanding durability was critical to his pursuit of 3,000 hits. Aside from 2018, he has played enough to qualify for the batting title in every season (he won the American League batting title in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015).
The milestone moved Cabrera into a tie with Roberto Clemente for 32nd place on the all-time MLB hits list. If Miggy comes anywhere close to replicating his 2021 production (121-for-472), he’ll crack the top 25 by season’s end.
The 39-year-old is in the second-to-last guaranteed season of a $240 million contract extension. Assuming he completes the deal before retiring, his Tigers will play a series against the Marlins in 2023 when the league moves to an “everybody plays everybody” scheduling format (still to be determined whether that series would be in Detroit or Miami).