All Tiger fans know Miguel Cabrera is a gleeful and savage destroyer of baseballs, the self-worth of pitchers, and Fig Newtons. As any Dothraki handmaiden can tell you, "It is known." Seeing Miguel erupt for four hits to reach 2000 with the punctuation of a no-doubt rocket into the left field seats today, I was inspired by an insightful ExTeeBall Pitcher comment to check on a couple of all-time records and compare them to the Big Cat. I just wondered what could be possible if Miguel has the long peak and slow decline we're all hoping for.
It looks to me like a reasonably healthy Cabrera over the next ten years, is capable of getting into the top five in hits, and should clear 600 HRs, getting him to between 7th and 9th all-time, in the company of Frank Robinson, Sammy Sosa and Jim Thome. He'd need to clear 1500 more hits and around 250 HRs over the remainder of his career. Nothing to sneeze at, but well within the realm of possibility. Any player could be felled by injury, especially as they get into their mid-30s, but with the move to 1st base, eventual DH appearances, and careful feeding and usage, I think Miguel's hands, eyes and pitch recognition will allow him to extend his prime, and moderate his eventual decline better than most.
But hits? Home runs? A baseball player's prey is bases, the number of raw bags collected. How you get them is up to you. I've always liked total bases a true accounting of a player's production over time. It's also one that illustrates with stunning clarity just how freaking good Hank Aaron was, and for how long. Hank Aaron has the gaudiest collection of bags all-time at 6856 via Baseball-Reference. That is a staggering amount when you realize that his nearest competitor is Stan Musial at 6134 total bases. Willie Mays follows not far behind at 6066. Hank Aaron was blessed with extreme levels of awesome and longevity and made it count to an astonishing degree, far beyond any other man to ever play the game.
So where is our hero in all this? Miggy stood at 3536 entering the 2014 season and is presumably on his way to another season of 350 or so total bases. That's roughly his average over the past four seasons. He had 377 in 2012, and 353 last year. Now, Hank Aaron is basically out of range. Miggy would have to stay at his current pace for a full ten years to catch him. But, if he averaged 325 total bases over the next 8 seasons, he'd catch Stan Musial for second all-time. This seems well within Cabrera's reach, once again, barring serious, debilitating injury, and that would put him right among not just the greatest hitters of all-time, but the select elite handful that tower over the game's long history. And that, would be really, really cool to see happen on our Tigers.
So, just another way of understanding what we're watching out of the #3 spot on our baseball team on a daily basis. Miguel needs just 2602 total bases to get to second all-time, and the way he's going, he's very likely to be well over halfway there by his 35th birthday. Right now, I'm just concerned with this team winning the World Series this era of Tiger baseball deserves. But Miguel's run at the total base record is definitely something I'll be watching as his career progresses.
Someday they're gonna build statues of this guy...