As we watch Miguel Cabrera finish off his great career, fans are anticipating his historic 3,000th hit and 500th home run. Both milestones could come during the 2021 season, though Miggy will need to step up his production to get to the 3k mark. He’s currently on pace for about 90 hits, which would leave Miggy about 60 hits shy of 3,000.
It’s easy to lament the punchless offensive force that Miggy has become. But we shouldn’t lose sight of the great accomplishments he’s had in a Detroit uniform. Since arriving in a fantastic trade after the 2007 season, Cabrera has done a heck of a lot for the franchise. For example:
- Two MVP awards, in 2012 and 2013
- Baseball’s first Triple Crown in 45 years, in 2012
- Four batting titles
- Two home run crowns
- Twice leading the league in runs batted in
- Seven All-Star selections
- Five Silver Slugger Awards
- Miggy helped the Tigers to four consecutive division titles and one pennant
Cabrera has also been a lot of fun to watch. His playful nature on the field made it not only exciting, but fun to watch the Tigers as they came back to prominence from 2008-2016, the prime years when Miggy and the team were contenders.
Here’s a list of the greatest hits in the career of Miguel Cabrera, a surefire Hall of Famer.
June 20, 2003:
First game, first hit, first homer, first walkoff
He’d only been up to the big leagues a few days when manager Jack McKeon, who had played his first professional game 34 years before Miggy was born, put the rookie into his lineup in left field. Miggy was hitting eighth in the lineup for the Marlins that day against Tampa Bay in a game played in Miami. The 20-year old Cabrera had a tough time in his first four at-bats: striking out, flying out, grounding into a double play, and hitting a ball weakly back to the mound. The two teams went into extra innings tied at one, neither club mounting much of an offensive attack. A runner was on second with one out when Al Levine left a fastball out over the plate that Cabrera hammered into deep center field. It was a two-run, walkoff homer, the first hit in Miggy’s career. Cabrera’s arrival would help ignite the Marlins, who were in fourth place when he was called up. The team went 56-32 over the final three months of the season to sneak into the playoffs as a wild card. Miggy had twelve homers, 21 doubles, and 62 runs batted in during the stretch. Welcome to the big leagues!
October 4, 2003, Game Four of NLDS:
Opposite field single proves to be game-winner in series clincher
This was the fourth hit of the game for Cabrera and it was the type of hit we’ve seen since lots of times. With runners at first and second in the bottom of the eighth inning of a tie game, Cabrera stroked the first pitch he saw from Giant reliever Felix Rodriguez into right field. It was an opposite field smack that’s become a signature of Miggy’s game. Both runners scored when the ball got away from the catcher and the hit proved to be the series clincher.
October 7, 2003, Game One of NLCS:
Home run brings Fish back to tie game
The Chicago Cubs were the darlings of the ’03 postseason in the National League. They were the favorites to win this series against the young Marlins. In Game One at Wrigley Field the Cubs put up four runs in the first inning off Florida ace Josh Beckett. The Marlins were still down 4-0 in the third when they started to fight their way back. Cabrera came to the plate two batters after Pudge Rodriguez hit a three-run homer. On a 3-1 pitch from Carlos Zambrabo, Miggy blasted a line drive homer to left/center that landed in the bleachers at Wrigley Field. The ball went out so quickly that the Cubs broadcasters barely had a chance to say “That’s gone.” The Marlins won the game 9-8 and Miggy hit two more homers in the series.
October 15, 2003, Game Seven of NLCS:
Game Seven? No pressure
How many 20-year old players have batted cleanup in a Game Seven? Cabrera did. This was the game the day after the Cubs blew a 3-0 lead in the eighth inning, just four outs from going to the World Series. In the very first inning the Marlins put runners at the corners when Miggy stepped to the plate to face Chicago ace Kerry Wood, a hard thrower known for his heater. Cabrera fell behind 0-2, but on the fifth pitch — a low fastball from Wood — Miggy golfed the ball into left-center for a three-run bomb that silenced the Wrigley crowd. The Marlins won the game 9-6 and captured the pennant.
September 26, 2007:
The “Not going to hit me? I’ll hit you” home run against the Cubs
The Cubs were in Florida to face the Marlins in a meaningless late-season game, but the game got chippy. Derrek Lee of the Cubs was hit by a pitch. A few other Cub players were brushed back and the visiting team was cranky about it. Manager Lou Piniella loudly proclaimed that someone on the Marlins would have to be hit with a pitch. Playing third base, Cabrera heard Piniella and casually walked toward the Chicago bench, asking “Who me? You going to go after me?” In his next at-bat in the seventh inning, Miggy fully expected to be drilled by a pitch from Carlos Marmol. But the Cub pitcher tossed his first pitch on the outside edge of the plate for a strike. Cabrera smiled at Marmol, looked over his shoulder at Piniella in the Cubs’ dugout, and shrugged his shoulders. Marmol threw his next pitch and Miggy smoked it to deep left field for a two-run homer. As Cabrera rounded third he had a big smile on his face as he looked into the Chicago dugout. Piniella, amazed that Cabrera could be that confident when for all he knew he was going to get drilled in the ribs with a fastball, was applauding.
March 31, 2008:
Welcome to Detroit
Cabrera was traded from the Marlins to the Tigers during the 2007-08 offseason in a blockbuster deal. This was his first game as a Tiger, opening day in Detroit against the Royals. In the fifth inning, in his third trip to the plate, Cabrera hit a home run to left field to lead off. The homer, his first hit as a Tiger, gave his team a 2-0 lead.
October 1, 2012:
Holding off challenges to the triple crown
Entering the final weekend series of the regular season, Miguel Cabrera was poised to make baseball history. He led the AL in batting, home runs, and RBIs. If he could keep those leads, he’d become the first player to win the triple crown in 45 years. Miggy had a healthy lead in RBIs, but he was only a few points ahead of Mike Trout in the batting race and Josh Hamilton of the Rangers was tied with him for the homer lead. On Friday night in Kansas City, Cabrera had a great game to pretty much seal the triple crown. It was made more remarkable by the fact that Trout was having a big night too. Miggy laced an opposite field single in the fourth, then in the sixth he belted a home run to give himself a one-homer cushion over Hamilton (who would fail to homer all weekend and finish one behind Cabrera). In the seventh frame, Cabrera blooped a single to right, and in the top of the ninth, with the game well in hand, he singled up the middle for his fourth hit of the game. The base hit prompted a standing ovation from the KC crowd in a show of class. Miggy had raised his average to .329, four points ahead of Trout, who also had four hits that night. Two days later, Cabrera officially captured the triple crown, but his performance in this game cemented the deal.
September 3, 2011:
Towering walkoff homer to beat the White Sox
There were 40,635 fans in Comerica Park to see this mammoth and dramatic home run. The first-place Tigers trailed 8-1 at one point in this contest but fought back. They still trailed 8-6 entering the ninth, but Ryan Raburn hit a two-run shot to tie it off Chicago closer Sergio Santos. Two batters later, with two outs, and with the Detroit crowd still buzzing over Raburn’s clutch homer, Miggy sent them home happy. First pitch, first swing, ball gone.
August 9, 2013:
Winning the battle against Mo at Yankee Stadium
Two outs, runner on, bottom of the ninth at Yankee Stadium, down by two. It’s a scenario you dream about when you’re a kid. But in this case, it wasn’t a dream.
Detroit trailed the Yanks 3-1 in The Bronx in the ninth inning in this heat-of-the-summer game. Closer Mariano Rivera, the greatest relief pitcher in history, was on the mound to close it out. Game over, right? Not with the greatest hitter in baseball stepping to the plate. Miggy was enjoying one of his best seasons: his average over .355, more than 30 homers and 100 RBIs with seven weeks still left in the season.
Cabrera had never gotten a hit against Rivera in his career. There was a lot of drama here: the baserunner is on second and first is open, but the Yankees choose to pitch to Miggy; Cabrera fouls a pop fly that Yankee first baseman Lyle Overbay misplays; Rivera gets to strikes on him and the fans at Yankee Stadium are on their feet anticipating another cut fastball to end in a Yankee win; at one point during this at-bat, Miggy fouls a ball off his knee and has to be visited by the team trainer, then, after limping around and finding his way back into the box, he fouls the next pitch off the same knee, prompting Miggy to smirk at Mo on the mound as well as his teammates, who are chuckling in the visitors’ dugout.
On Rivera’s seventh pitch, Cabrera gets a cut fastball low in the strike zone and connects. The baseball soars into straightaway center field several feet over the wall for a two-run homer. The look on the face of Yankee manager Joe Girardi, who had managed Miggy in Florida, was a sort of “Did that just happen?” Girardi surely must have been rethinking his decision to pitch to Cabrera, the best hitter on the planet.
October 10, 2013:
Home Run in Game Five Win Over Oakland in Playoffs
The 2013 AL Division Series went to a fifth game unexpectedly when relief pitcher Jose Valverde blew a late lead in Game Four to the A’s. That loss forced ace Justin Verlander to take the hill for a winner-take-all battle in Game Five. Anything could have happened, but Cabrera and Verlander made sure the Tigers came out on top. In the fourth, Miggy blasted a two-run homer to left field at the Oakland Coliseum to give JV all the support he needed in a 3-0 clinching win.
September 1, 2014:
Miggy Sets the Tone for Playoff Push
As the 2014 season was entering September, the Tigers were in a deadlock with the Royals in a battle to win their fourth straight division crown. On September 1 in Cleveland, Cabrera took matters into his own hands, smacking a pair of homers for the Tigers in a 12-1 win. A week later he went deep twice again, and within days Detroit took hold of the AL Central on their way to another title.