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Miguel Cabrera becomes the 33rd player to join the 3,000 hits club

He’s finally done it, and we couldn’t be prouder.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Baltimore Orioles Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Miguel Cabrera is baseball’s newest Mr. 3,000.

The pressure and attention around these milestones are not always comfortable for Cabrera. He wasted no time getting it done on Saturday. Hitting in his traditional third spot in the order for the first time this year, Cabrera recorded the historic knock with a classic opposite field single off of Colorado Rockies starter, Antonio Senzatela, in the first inning.

Miguel Cabrera has 3,000 hits.

It was a glorious scene in a packed Comerica Park. Cabrera’s joy and relief were apparent, as was the joy in his teammates both past and current. Rockies shortstop Jose Iglesias was one of the first to reach him with a hug and congratulations as Cabrera’s Tigers teammates streamed out of the dugout to greet him. His family followed and the game came to a brief halt to absorb the incredible moment.

April 23rd, 2022 now becomes a historical date in Detroit Tigers history, joining just two other days in team history on which the 3000 mark was achieved. Way back on August 19, 1921, Tigers legend Ty Cobb became the third player all-time to reach the 3000 hit plateau, joining Honus Wagner and Nap Lajoie. Cobb would finish with 4189 hits overall, and still holds second place all-time behind Pete Rose. On September 24, 1974, Mr. Tiger himself, outfielder Al Kaline, became the second Detroit Tigers great to reach the mark, only days before he retired with a total of 3007 hits.

After New York Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone’s decision to issue Cabrera an intentional pass on Thursday in his final at-bat of the Tigers 3-0 victory, and then the postponement of Friday night’s contest with the Colorado Rockies, the buildup to this moment was dragged out a bit longer than anticipated, giving fans time to savor the impending milestone and its historical context. The sense of anticipation hanging in the air prior to today’s contest was indescribable.

This coronation has been a long time coming for Cabrera, as the culmination of an incredible career. The pride of Maracay, Venezuela has long led the way as the greatest Venezuelan player of all-time. Now his home and adopted countries share in the pride at his storied career at one of the great milestones in baseball history. This was a moment well-earned. Through two decades of hitting excellence, his career is littered with impressive achievements.

His bat was a foundational element of the Tigers teams of the late aughts as they reemerged from irrelevance. He was a driving force behind the glory days of the early 2010s, winning a Triple Crown and hit one of Detroit’s three home runs during the 2012 World Series. He even won back-to-back AL MVP awards — one of only three active players to be named the top player in their league more than once.

Looking over Cabrera’s body of work, his .310 career batting average and status as a 500 home run hitter jump off the page instantly. For those who like to dig deeper, there are a myriad ways to appreciate the complete dominance of his prime. Eclipsing the 170 wRC+ mark during the 2010 and 2011 seasons, he was an astonishing 71 and 77 percent above league average during those years.

The 2013 season was his magnum opus. He was the scariest hitter in the game, and there was no second place. Mike Trout crossed the 10 fWAR threshold reserved for only the best players on both sides of the ball and Chris Davis hit 50 home runs, but neither were even in the vicinity of Cabrera’s 193 wRC+. Walking at the same rate as he struck out and hammering baseballs all over the place, he slashed .348/.442/.636. That’s not just the performance of the year. It’s the performance of a lifetime.

Only six players in baseball history have 3000 hits and 500 home runs. Only three have those numbers alongside a career .300 batting average, Cabrera, Hank Aaron, and Willie Mays. And when Cabrera hits one more double, he’ll reach 600 doubles for his career, creating a unique category with Aaron as the only two players to post 3000 hits, 500 homers, 600 doubles, and a career average of .300 or better. These numbers are the absolute pinnacle of the sport, and Miguel Cabrera fits right at the very top.

The joy Cabrera has brought to Tigers fans over the past 15 years wearing the Olde English D is immeasurable. His effusive love for the game is too. Do you know what is measurable? Hits — and now he has 3,000 of them. Our hearts are full. We couldn’t be prouder.

Congratulations to you, Miguel! You deserve this moment. We’re just glad to be here for the ride.