DETROIT -- Miguel Cabrera hasn’t made a big deal out of climbing statistical leaderboards and passing greats in his final season. He’d rather focus on individual games and team success when he can, and get on with preparing for the next game. Still, as he sat in the Tigers' clubhouse at Comerica Park on Wednesday afternoon, even he was a bit in awe.
“I can say I have more hits than Tony Gwynn,” Cabrera said. “Bro, that’s insane.”
He can add another name to that list: Robin Yount. A day after passing Gwynn and tying Yount with a two-hit night on Tuesday, Cabrera passed Yount in Wednesday's 9-5 win with his 3,143rd career hit, a third-inning single off Twins starter Bailey Ober. Cabrera finished the night 3-for-4, leaving him with 3,145 career hits.
Cabrera now sits 19th in hits in Major League history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, the official statistician of Major League Baseball.
He gets it. In case he didn’t, he had a thousand text messages and an entire dugout reminding him.
“I do think, every now and then -- not to preach to you -- but we have to realize those are some big names [he’s passing] getting into the Top 20 for all-time hits, and we’re kind of numb to it,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “We’ve watched it for a couple years of him catching these guys and passing them. He’s inside 20 that have ever played the game, and we can’t forget that as we acknowledge his performance.
“The Top 20 is such revered company. You’re looking at childhood heroes for me: Tony Gwynn, Robin Yount. I mean, these guys are Hall of Famers, and obviously, we’re going to see Miggy there someday, but I just don’t want anyone to miss the opportunity to enjoy the present.”
Cabrera said he never met Gwynn, who passed away in 2014. Cabrera talked with former teammate Prince Fielder about Yount’s approach to hitting, but he has never had a chance for a sit-down like other Hall of Famers. One of those others, George Brett, could be up before Cabrera winds down. Cabrera is nine hits away from Brett. Beyond Brett is Cabrera’s longtime friend Adrián Beltré at 3,166 hits, followed by Cal Ripken Jr. at 3,184.
Tigers outfielder Riley Greene, who was 2 years old when Cabrera hit a walk-off homer for his first Major League hit on June 20, 2003, with the then-Florida Marlins, has been marveling with teammates and coaches at the names. When Gwynn’s name showed up on the Comerica Park videoboard Tuesday, Greene and Tigers hitting coach James Rowson noted the rare territory he has entered.
“We’re like, ‘Oh, Miggy just passed another guy that’s incredible. That’s crazy,’” Greene said.