Sunday May 08, 2022

3,000 for Miggy

While I was in Italy, Miguel Cabrera, one of the most beloved players currently playing the game, got his 3,000th hit. I was following a bit of it from there. I knew he was sitting on 2,999, and I knew there was some controversy about the Yankees intentionally walking him in a game—Joe Posnanski writes about it here—but then I lost the thread. I assumed Miggy had done it, I just didn't hear about it, and none of the Italians were talking about it. Turns out he did it in the very next game. The IBB was in the 8th inning against the Yankees on April 22, the day I arrived in Tuscany, and No. 3,000, a single to right, happened in the 1st inning against the Colorado Rockies on April 23. Miggy is the 33rd man, and, after Cobb and Kaline, the third player wearing a Detroit Tigers uniform, to reach 3,000 hits.

Here's a sad thought: Will he be the last? At least for awhile?

It feels like it, which is odd since 3,000 hits have become more common, not less, over the years. Until 1970, only eight players had ever reached the plateau: Anson, Wagner, Lajoie, Cobb, Speaker, Collins, Waner, and Musial. Shorter careers didn't help. Seasons lost to world wars didn't help, either. Then in the 1970s alone, seven players joined those eight: Aaron, Mays, Clemente, Kaline, Rose, Brock, and Yaz. The '80s added one (Carew), the '90s seven more (Yount, Brett, Winfield, Murray, Molitor, Gwynn, Boggs), then four and five for the first two decades of this century (Ripken, Henderson, Palmeiro, Biggio, Jeter, A-Rod, Ichiro, Beltre, Pujols). Miggy is the first to do it in the 2020s. And I don't see anyone else who might do it soon. 

Robinson Canó is next on the active list, with 2632. But he's 39 years old, lost all of last year to a PED suspension, and hasn't exactly been a hitting machine recently—getting 94, 100 and 42 hits from 2018-20. That won't cut it. More importantly, last week he was cut by the Mets, who paid $45 million for the privilege. And though another team could pick him up for a relative song, so far no one has. 

And only two other players are in the 2,000s: Yadier Molina and Joey Votto, and both are in their late 30s, and neither has 2200. Don't see it. Elvis Andrus is only 33, and has 1880, but over the last three seasons he's got a .603 OPS. A few 32-year-olds are maybes: Jose Altuve (1791), Freddie Freeman (1734) and Eric Hosmer (1662). A few years ago, Altuve seemed the likeliest candidate, leading the league in hits from 2014 to 2017, always with 200+. But then fallow times. He'd have to turn it around but he's already been on the IL this year. Trout? Walks too much, gets injured too much. He's 30 and isn't halfway there (1446). Bryce Harper will turn 30 in October, but he's even further back, at 1297, and he's only gotten more than 150 hits twice in his career, his two MVP seasons, and his high was 172. A guy who might have a shot is Manny Machado. He's also 29, but with 1465 hits, and he doesn't walk as much as Trout and Harper.

All of which points out just how difficult it is to do this, particularly in this age of defensive shifts and falling batting averages. So congrats to Miggy, one of our favorite players in recent years, a man who brings real joy to the game. This past weekend he also became just the 19th player in baseball history to get his 600th career double. Last month, 3,000 hits, last season, 500 homeruns. So how many guys have done all three—3,000 hits, 600 doubles and 500 homeruns? The answer is Miggy, Albert Pujols, and a guy named Henry Aaron. That's it.

Posted at 05:43 PM on Sunday May 08, 2022 in category Baseball  
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Twitter: @ErikLundegaard

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