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Miguel Cabrera's first 1,620 games places him among all-time greats

Sunday Miguel Cabrera played his 1,620th major-league game. If you're quick with the maths, that's the equivalent to 10 full seasons. With that in mind, it seemed like a good time to see where he stands among the MLB's best.

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Through 1,620 games, Miguel Cabrera has 1,952 hits, 408 doubles, 14 triples, 357 HR and 1,233 RBI.  He has been walked 778 times, intentionally 175. The nice thing about 10 full seasons is that you can just move the decimal point over to find averages. That's 195 hits, 41 doubles, 36 HR and 123 RBI, on average, each full season.

And that is pretty impressive.

What about rate stats and averages? For his career:  He has batted.321 with .399 OBP and .569 slugging. That's .969 OPS. His career OPS+ -- which compares him to league average and adjusts for his home ballpark(s) -- is 155. (Remember: average is 100.)

That leads one to wonder: What peers might you find during the history of the game?

Hank Aaron is the first that comes to mind,  since his name was often the one that came up in systems like Baseball Prospects' PECOTA. During his first 1,620 games, Aaron hit .319/.375/.566 with an average 36 home runs and 119 RBI per 162 games. Through age 30, his OPS+ was 157. Frank Robinson (a Triple Crown winner like Cabrera) had an OPS+ of 154 through his age 30 season. He hit .304/.390/.560 during his first 1,620 games, averaging 36 HR and 110 RBI per 162 games. Here's another: Willie Mays had an OPS+ of 160 during his first 1,620 games. He batted .313/.388/.582 and had 38 HR and 112 RBI per 162 games.

So by those measures, Cabrera is actually ahead of a few of the game's all-time greats and in the ballpark with another. Of course, he does lag quite a bit behind Mickey Mantle, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams or Babe Ruth, whose numbers look like they were playing the game on the "easy" setting.

And what about comparing Cabrera to a few modern players? Albert Pujols is the standard bearer here. Pujols has a career OPS+ of 165 and 162-game averages of 41 HR and 124 RBI. During his first 1,620 games, his line was .329/.423/.619 with an average 43 home runs and 127 RBI. Cabrera remains ahead of of the pace Bonds set during his early ears: .288/.405/.547 with 34 HR and 101 RBI per 162 games. (Of course we know what happened during Bonds' later years ... .) Frank Thomas is an interesting one. He hit .316/.434/.572 with 36 home runs and 124 RBI per 162 games. His OPS+ was about 165 -- just above Cabrera's 164 during his time in Detroit though comfortably ahead of Cabrera's complete works.

Keeping in mind Cabrera has not spent the entire time in a Tigers uniform (about 44 percent of his games were played with the Marlins), I was curious how his 162-game averages compared to a few other Detroit greats.

He has a bit to make up on Ty Cobb, whose OPS+ of 171 in Detroit is the franchise's high watermark. Of course, any time you compare a player to that era, you open up all kinds of debates, not the least because Cabrera would not even have been allowed to play in the MLB then.

Moving down the list from that era, we have a few more greats, such as Harry Heilman (149 OPS+ during his 19 years in Detroit, though obviously with quite a bit fewer home runs, given he played 1914-1929 in Detroit.) Sam Crawford played 15 years in Detroit and had a 144 OPS+ to show for it. Playing even earlier than Heilman, he never had more than a handful of home runs per year.

Skipping ahead in time a bit, we have Hank Greenberg, whose career you might recall was interrupted in the middle due to his military service during World War II. For that reason, he never even made it to the 1,620-game mark. Greenberg finished his career with a .319/.412/.605 line in 1,394 games. His 162-game average: 38 home runs, 148 RBI. And his OPS+: 161.  (Just comparing Cabrera's time in Detroit, he hits with a little more average for a little less power, though his HR/162 games is better.) Greenberg is always the first Tigers great that comes to mind for me when I think of Cabrera.

Finally, it seems apparent Cabrera has passed Al Kaline. Trying to compare apples-to-apples (as Kaline's career lasted for 2,800+ games), Kaline has an OPS+ of 132 during his first 1,620 games. He batted .307 with an average of 24 home runs and 98 RBI per 162 games during that time. For his career, Kaline's OPS+ was 134.

So, after this history trip, what can we conclude?

We are lucky, lucky, lucky fans indeed. That's what we can conclude. We're watching one of the all-time greats at the peak of his career.

Your turn: I've spent 2 hours playing around. I want to know how you'd rank things.

(B-R's Play Index was a huge rabbit hole help in researching these stats, and thanks to Eric Stephen of True Blue LA for a few thoughts on the topic as well!)

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