Miguel Cabrera will retire from Major League Baseball after the 2023 season as one of the most prolific hitters in the history of the game, and a certain first ballot Hall of Famer. On the field, “Miggy” is a mere shadow of his former self, but still a main attraction wherever he goes. He is universally loved around the game and while he might prefer to keep things low key, he’ll remain a center of attention for one more season.
On a still rebuilding team coming off their worst offensive performance since 1905, with a payroll that will be even lower than the previous season, Cabrera’s teammates are mainly younger players with scant experience at the major league level full of hopes and dreams of what they might one day become. They can all consider themselves fortunate to have such a legend in the clubhouse with them.
On the field, Cabrera’s numbers have been quite underwhelming for a half decade now, posting a positive fWAR just once since the 2016 season. In 2022, he came to the plate 433 times, hitting .254 with five homers 43 RBI, and a wRC+ of just 79. Steamer and ZIPS project better production with a reduction in playing time, 90 and 89 wRC+, with seven or eight home runs and 34 to 43 RBI, respectively.
Suffice it to say there’s little point breaking down his 2022 numbers. Cabrera is going to DH part-time this season. Probably A.J. Hinch will give him a few final starts at first base, but he’ll also be comfortable sitting Cabrera if he gets into a funk the way he did in the second half last year.
What doesn’t show up in the numbers is the influence that Cabrera has on younger players like Spencer Torkelson, Riley Greene, and Kerry Carpenter. Players who have their whole careers ahead of them, who are just learning about life in the show. They watch how he prepares, his approach at the plate, how he studies the game and opposing pitchers. How he loves the game, and the game loves him back.
Most of Cabrera’s big milestones have already been achieved. He has over 3,000 hits, 500 home runs, 1,800 RBI and 600 doubles. Only Henry Aaron and Albert Pujols have reached all of those milestones, and only Aaron also hit above .300 for his career. Cabrera’s immediate spot in Cooperstown is assured, and it won’t be long until his name and number are up on the brick walls on either side of the batter’s eye at Comerica Park.
However, there might be a few more minor milestones for Cabrera to collect during the season.
-Cabrera is currently 16th all-time in total bases at 5250. He’s collected 182 and 126 total bases the past two seasons, respectively. Split the difference and give him 150 this season and he’ll catch Orioles’ great Eddie Murray (5397) for 11th all-time. Carl Yastrzemski (5539) is out of reach at 10th all-time.
-He needs just four home runs to tie Norm Cash for second place among all Tigers.
-Five homers would put him 23rd all time in MLB.
-He is currently 14th in RBI with 1,847. He might move up a slot, but it’s a steep climb beyond that point.
-He’s also 14th in total doubles with 607, just 17 behind Aaron.
-Cabrera has 3,088 hits, 25th all time. 96 more hits would put him 16th.
-101 games would give him 2,800 for his career, 25th all time in MLB.
-Cabrera ranks 28th all time in plate appearances, 117 behind Al Kaline. He could climb as high as 23rd.
For a more complete rundown on Miggy’s milestones, we dove into that subject here.
Cabrera will celebrate his 40th birthday on April 18. The Tigers will be at home vs Cleveland on that day. He doesn’t want a farewell tour, but he’ll get one anyway, because he is a legend. He will earn a salary of $32 million for the 2023 season, the Tigers will buy out his 2024 option for $8 million, and he will retire. In five years, he will enter the Hall of Fame as one of the greatest Tigers to ever play the game. Hopefully, his young teammates can take something away from witnessing the end of a historic career.