Miguel Cabrera finally ended his own personal Curse of the Bambino.
The Tigers slugger passed Babe Ruth on Major League Baseball’s hits list after a week and a half lingering over his shoulder. Cabrera’s second-inning single in Friday's 7-3 loss to the Twins was the 2,873rd hit of his career, pulling Miggy even with the Bambino on the all-time list. He added another single in the fourth inning to bring his total to 2,874, and now he stands alone at 45th.
It’s a cool milestone on Cabrera’s quest for 3,000 hits and 500 home runs. Just six players in MLB history have accomplished both, though never in the same year. Cabrera will have to pick up his pace to get there, but Friday was a start.
Cabrera had been on the brink of tying Ruth since April 27. Friday's first hit ended an 0-for-27 slump, the longest hitless skid of his 19-year Major League career. He broke it against Twins starter and Detroit area native Matt Shoemaker, who had held Cabrera to 3-for-21 with five strikeouts in their previous career meetings.
Cabrera’s first single Friday was one of his classic opposite-field line drives, a 101.5 mph liner off the bat that hit the right-field wall on a hop before outfielder Max Kepler fielded the carom, holding Cabrera at first. His fourth-inning single was a harder-hit ground ball at 105.6 mph, carrying up the middle and into center.
Cabrera and good friend Albert Pujols, who was released by the Angels on Thursday, are the only two active players among the all-time top 50 in career hits; Pujols sits 14th with 3,253. Cabrera is closing in on greats such as Mel Ott (2,876), Omar Vizquel (2,877) and Rogers Hornsby (2,930).
“It’s incredible,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said after the game. “I mean, we do have to all take a minute and reflect a little bit. I know the dugout was very excited when he got that hit. Obviously Miggy’s struggled quite a bit this season. He has the day off [Thursday] and then comes out today a little refreshed and gets that base hit, and you look up on the scoreboard and you’re talking about tying Babe Ruth and then you talk about passing Babe Ruth.
“I don’t care what generation you were born in, how old you are, how big a baseball fan you even are, you know Babe Ruth. I mean, Babe Ruth is synonymous with baseball on so many levels. So Miggy should be very proud with the names like him that he’s not only catching but surpassing.”
The 2021 season marks Cabrera’s 19th in the Majors. He’s amassed an impressive list of awards during that time, including a Triple Crown, 11 All-Star selections, seven Silver Sluggers, four batting titles, two MVP Awards and has been named MLB’s Player of the Year twice.
That Cabrera is a future Hall of Famer has never really been in question. Still, during a rare pregame Zoom session with media on Wednesday, Cabrera expressed awe at his impending feat. Did he ever in a million years think he’d be around long enough to tie the Babe?
“Whoaaaa,” he said, with no small amount of reverence. “No chance. No chance. … Never in my life did I think I would hit as many hits as I have right now. I’ve been blessed. I thank God every day for this opportunity. For me, in my career, I never take something for granted. I just go out there and play.”
Cabrera’s career achievements have also brought him to within one double of becoming the eighth Tiger in history to hit 400 with the club, and will mark No. 583 in his career, tying him with Hall of Famer Robin Yount for No. 21 on MLB’s all-time list.
With 489 career homers, Cabrera sits just four shy of tying Lou Gehrig and Fred McGriff for 28th on that MLB career list, too. The magnitude of that many milestones certainly isn't lost on those around Cabrera, Hinch said.
“I don’t even know if our players know exactly how good Robin Yount was in his day, and we’re going to cherish those names as they come across the board,” Hinch said. “We are having some education on some of these big names. Nobody needs to be educated on Babe Ruth’s name; it’s stamped all across our game and the history of our game, but it’s a lot of fun for our guys to see Miggy get closer and closer to all these names.”