Detroit Tigers press department photo via Twitter
Miguel Cabrera was the center of a small, but significant tribute this Friday, at Comerica Park in Detroit. In a ceremony that the fans of the Tigers had been eager to see for a week, the applause for the 500th home run that the Venezuelan star achieved on August 22 in the MLB sounded live again.
Cabrera’s wife, Rosángel, and their children Christopher and Isabella, joyfully participated in the event, unveiling the magic number of half a thousand in the bleachers in left field.
It was a magical moment that lasted two minutes, as Steven Matz, the pitcher who served the historic hit in Toronto, witnessed everything on the mound, hoping to return to measure forces with the slugger born in Maracay.
A second celebration of the same tenor awaits Cabrera. Next to the changing poster that keeps track of his homers is that other one that marks how many hits he has left to complete the 3,000 hits. That is the figure for which they most eagerly await their partials.
The 3,000 hits will complete the plaque that awaits you in Cooperstown. It doesn’t seem like he needs them anymore, to have a guaranteed place in the Hall of Fame. Anyway, it will reach them, in this September or next April, if health permits.
But there is another countdown that is said little, almost nothing, and has the same or greater significance than those two. It is one that is not on the walls of Comerica Park, but one that allows Cabrera to encompass greatness as a hitter in the Major Leagues.
The Tigers first baseman came into the weekend with just a handful of RBIs behind 1,800 RBIs at the Big Show.
The hairline he brought home this Friday, to tie the game against Matz and the Toronto Blue Jays, not only paved the way for Detroit’s victory. It also allowed him to add 1,787 RBIs in the MLB.
There are fewer hitters over 1,800 RBIs (21) than with 500 home runs (28) or 3,000 hits (32).
Each of the members of that club are legends recognizable by practically the entire fan base. They are mythical surnames: Ruth, Aaron, Pujols, Bonds, Anson, Gehrig, Cobb, Foxx, Musial, Mays, Ott, Yastrzemski, Williams, Griffey, Simmons, Winfield, Palmeiro, Murray, Robinson …
Even the other two Hispanic surnames present there, which are repeated with great frequency in the Big Top, are unique when accompanied by the nickname they made famous. Because Ramírez and Rodríguez there are many. But, there has been only one Manny and one A-Rod.
The 1,800 pushed will not possibly have a party as well deserved as this time. The Tigers will surely wait for it to crown 2,000, that plateau where only five extraterrestrials live, which Cabrera could threaten in 2023 and perhaps achieve in 2024, if he gets another year on his contract and wants to stay in action.
The next ceremony, then, will be that of the 3,000 undisputed, one of the most iconic records in baseball. And when will it happen?
A simple projection from what he did in 2021 suggests that he only has 24 undisputed left to connect this year. That would leave him with 2,983.
But a more real projection is one that would suppose Cabrera a performance similar to the rate shown since June 5. It was then when he came out of the suffered slump that affected his numbers between April and May. In that case, hitting .294 (the average he has posted since then) and with the same rhythm of days off, he has about 30 left.
That same calculation, close to the All-Star Game, put him on the road to 2,995 rockets to close the season. But he would have to hit .305 from June 5 in order for that to be accomplished. The new projection places him at around 2,990.
If he has a vigorous auction in the last month of action, which is about to begin, Cabrera will force the Tigers’ protocol department to organize a new event at the end of September. Otherwise, in April there will be a double party. Because, in good health, he will reach 3,000 as an early gift on the 18th, when he will blow out the 39 candles on his birthday cake.