Miguel Cabrera hits his 500th home run
They don’t do them like Miguel Cabrera anymore.
On Sunday, Cabrera, the 38-year-old Detroit Tigers slugger, landed the 500th home run of his brilliant career, taking a 1-1 change to Steven Matz of the Blue Jays and dropping him 400 feet above the wall of the central field. at the Rogers Center in Toronto. He’s the 28th player to reach the milestone, and as he scoured the basics at the start of the sixth inning, it was fair to wonder how long it would take before there was a 29th.
“It was a great feeling,” Cabrera said of this trip around the bases. “It was good timing because we tied the game.”
To think about a long wait for the next 500 Homer Club member seems absurd given the rise of baseball over the past 20 years. The club’s membership grew so much that it watered down a feat that once came with automatic entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Still, a look at the active players behind Cabrera offers surprisingly few candidates capable of doing so in the next five years.
Cabrera waited a bit for his 500th home run, passing 31 passes at bat between No.499 and No.500. The nine-game stalemate may have seemed eternal, but according to Elias’ sports office, it came off well. short of the milestone waiting record, while Jimmie Foxx waited 61 at-bat.
The Tigers had tried to set things up for Cabrera’s 500th to come home, going so far as to have him sit a game on the road when he initially got to 499, but he struggled during a six-game homestand.
“There was a lot going on in my head because I wanted to do it in Detroit,” Cabrera said of the pressure to reach the 500. Showing some humility, he added, “But it’s hard to knock at home. “
The Tigers (60-66) made Cabrera’s Sunday end with a smile by beating the Blue Jays, 5-3, in 11 innings.
For Cabrera, 500 circuits are far from the only thing that sets him apart from his peers. A two-time MVP winner, he has a Hall of Fame resume that includes a triple crown in 2012, which shattered a 44-season streak without any in Major League Baseball; three more batting titles; and a World Series ring. Soon he could become the 33rd player with 3,000 career hits. He had 2,955 after Sunday’s game, although hitting 3,000 would likely force him to come back next season.
Cabrera did all of this as a player seemingly out of step with his generation.
Debates raged in 2012 over whether Cabrera, who was chasing the triple crown, should take a back seat in the MVP vote to Mike Trout, the Los Angeles Angels star who far surpassed him in wins. on top of substitution thanks to huge advantages in base running and defense. But even if he didn’t come with Trout’s full skill set, Cabrera’s feat of hitting the shine – American League leader in batting, home runs, and hammer runs – proved irresistible for the electors. He repeated as an MVP the following year in perhaps an even more impressive season, regardless of where he landed in the rankings, and regardless of how many believe Trout was the best. game player.
Cabrera is a step back in many ways. While it’s hard to choose the best stats to highlight from a career in which he’s gone from being a baby-faced child prodigy for the 2003 World Series-winning Florida Marlins to The lasting strength we see today, perhaps the most striking number is his career batting average of 0.311. This is the highest rating among active players, and unlike Albert Pujols, his closest active peer in terms of career accomplishments, Cabrera racked up enough of a cushion in his prime to most likely secure himself. that he won’t have to watch his average drop below .300 before retirement.
At a time when the league-wide batting average is the lowest since 1968, Cabrera’s seven-season span from 2009 to 2015, when he hit .332 in just under 4,000 at bat, appears to be a work of fiction.
Those days, unfortunately, are far behind him.
Even with a slight resurgence for Cabrera and Pujols this season, baseball is preparing for a while without them. It’s hard to predict how much time they have left, as both players have stuck around despite having little to offer beyond the occasional right-handed pop. But it’s easy to say that we won’t see players reaching similar milestones for quite a while.
As for the 500 circuits, a wait of five years (or more) seems likely.
Nelson Cruz of the Tampa Bay Rays is 57 under-500 homers, but he turned 41 on July 1 and is likely to fade at some point despite no evidence that process has started. The next-highest player on the active roster, Robinson Cano, turns 39 in October, and after being suspended for the 2021 season, it’s hard to see him hitting 166 more home runs.
Giancarlo Stanton needs 168, an achievable number for a 31-year-old who has already reached 59 in just one season. But he’s only 27 in the past three seasons combined, and his complicated medical history makes him a wild card.
Justin Upton, Joey Votto and Evan Longoria – No.6, 7 and 8 on the active roster – seem too old and far to make a run altogether, even though Votto, 37, has been making his best impression of Henry Aaron in recent times. time days.
That leaves the most likely candidate, beyond Stanton, to Trout, who turned 30 this month. He’s 190 years old and, with decent health, could get there in five or six seasons.
That expectation seems extraordinary when you consider that the membership of the 500-homer club has grown from 16 to 28 in around 20 seasons. He added three members in just 81 days in 2007. But in the history of the club, it wouldn’t be such a noticeable gap.
Babe Ruth founded the club with his 500th home run on August 11, 1929. It would be another 11 years before Jimmie Foxx joined him on September 24, 1940. Mel Ott was third in 1945, then there was a 15-year wait until Ted Williams did so in 1960. More recently there was a nine-year gap between Mike Schmidt’s 500th on April 18, 1987 and Eddie Murray’s on September 6, 1996.
These shortcomings arose before performance enhancing drugs spread in sport. The wave of 12 new members over a 17-year period ending in 2015 included seven players (Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez and Gary Sheffield) who appear unlikely to be signed up for Cooperstown at all times. soon.
But it can be seen as another way Cabrera is different. Barring a drastic change in circumstances, he and Pujols, 41, are expected to enter the Hall of Fame the first year each is eligible. The only real question is whether their induction will take place in 2027 – which would require a retirement after this season – or if it will wait even longer.