He's got 3,000 hits, but only one bunt single

April 23rd, 2022

When Miguel Cabrera recorded his 3,000th hit Saturday, he and his sweet swing officially joined some of the greatest players in baseball history. Among those 3,000 hits are 502 home runs -- making him just the seventh player to reach the 3,000 hit/500 HR club -- 599 doubles, and even 17 triples (though none have come since 2016).

But out of all of his hits, there is one white crow among the group: Miggy has one career bunt single.

Now, that's not a huge surprise. After all, Cabrera is one of the best hitters to ever play the game. He's won four batting titles, topped a .300 batting average 11 times with a 12th season clocking in at .299. He even laced a single when the Orioles tried to give him an intentional pass on June 22, 2006. What manager would ever want him to stop swinging the bat?

Plus, for all of Cabrera's skills, he's not exactly the speediest player on the field. If someone like Trea Turner is a Ferrari SF21, ready to challenge for the F1 title, then Miggy is more like your friendly neighborhood garbage truck: He'll rumble peacefully along, waiting until pitchers leave some trash over the middle of the plate that he can absolutely crush.

Still, other sluggers have multiple bunt hits. Albert Pujols has two. Nelson Cruz also has two. Joey Votto has three -- including two in an eight-day stretch in 2015. But Miggy? He's only got one.

It came on June 9, 2006, when Cabrera -- then on the Marlins -- stepped to the plate to face the Padres' Chris Young. Young, now the general manager of the Rangers, was in the zone that day. He pitched six innings, surrendered one run, struck out 12 and gave up only five hits in the Padres' 3-2 victory.

Perhaps most remarkably, Young remembers Cabrera's dinky little single 16 years later.

"Anytime Miggy came up to the plate, you were worried about him hitting a home run," Young told MLB.com's Kennedi Landry. "Even then you knew the power, the raw power he had. The talent was phenomenal. He could change the game with one swing."

Young had already retired Cabrera on a swinging strikeout and a foul fly out in his first two at-bats, extending the slugger's hitless streak to 13 at-bats. So, with Florida trailing, 3-1, and with a runner on second base, Cabrera took his chance.

"I remember going through my delivery and all of a sudden as I'm releasing the ball, I see him start to square and show bunt. He laid down the most perfect bunt down the third-base line," Young recalled. "I couldn't get to it, the third baseman was way back and he couldn't get to it and it just came to a stop. I'm like, Well, I guess if you're gonna give up hits to Miguel Cabrera, a bunt is the best way to do it so. I remember it perfectly and I was surprised. In my own little way, at that point in my career, I took it as a compliment that one of the best hitters in the game bunted off me instead of homered off me."

With runners now on the corners and no one out, Young buckled down and retired the next three without allowing a run to score. But that's not what stands out to him all these years later.

"Most importantly, I'm really happy for [Cabrera] and I have really enjoyed competing against him over the years," Young said. "I'm very proud that [I'm the only] pitcher that he was able to get his only bunt hit off of."

So, what were the chances that Miggy decides to surprise everyone and drop down another bunt single for No. 3,000? Not very high:

Cabrera's story changed a little Thursday morning when he was just one hit away from 3,000.

“I'm going to bunt today," Cabrera joked with MLB.com's Jason Beck. "Bunt! Speed, baby!”

“I told you in Spring Training I'm going to bunt. We bunt today. I told my kid Christopher yesterday. He said, 'You're going to bunt? Dad, come on.' But we bunt today, first pitch, a slider. He's going to throw me inside. I already know. Bunt! First inning!”

When Beck pointed out that, though the plan was solid, he had only one bunt hit in his career, Miggy's answer was simple:  “It's going to be two!”