Miguel Cabrera is two hits closer to reaching 3,000. And he has passed a baseball legend in the process.
In his 19th MLB season, the Detroit Tigers‘ likely future Hall of Famer singled to deep right field in the second inning Friday against the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park. He followed that with a single up the midde in the fourth inning. They were career hits 2,873 and 2,874 for the 38-year-old, passing Babe Ruth for 45th on major league baseball’s all-time hits leaderboard.
Albert Pujols, 41, is the only active player with more hits than Cabrera, with 3,253 hits, 14th all-time. (Pujols was designated for assignment on Thursday by the Los Angeles Angels.)
A Hall of Famer and seven-time World Series champion, Ruth played 22 seasons in the majors from 1914-35. He finished his career with 2,873 hits, 714 home runs and a .342 batting average. He also posted a 2.28 ERA in 163 games as a pitcher, mostly with Boston. He was sold to the New York Yankees after the 1919 season, prompting the Curse of the Bambino.
TIGERS FARM SYSTEM: Ranking top-15 prospects entering minor league season
“I didn’t really think about that,” Cabrera said April 28, as he was nearing Ruth’s name in his pursuit of esteemed milestones. “It’s really cool to be next to Babe Ruth. That’s great, that’s awesome. … I’ve been blessed. I thank God every day for this opportunity.”
Cabrera is 11 homers away from 500 for his career. His résumé: Two-time American League MVP (2012, 2013), Triple Crown winner (2012), 11-time All-Star, 2003 World Series champion, seven-time Silver Slugger and four AL batting titles. He helped the Tigers to the 2012 World Series, where they were swept by the San Francisco Giants.
Across 2,472 career games entering Friday, Cabrera had a .312 batting average.
“Never in my life was I thinking I was going to get as many hits as I have right now,” Cabrera said. “For me and my career, I’ll never take something for granted. I go out there and play. It doesn’t matter how people talk about me, bad or good, I don’t really care. I’m going out there and doing my job. That’s it.”
At some point, Cabrera is likely to join Ruth in the Hall of Fame. For now, he continues his chase for 3,000 hits and 500 home runs.
Here are the players Cabrera must pass en route to meeting Roberto Clemente at 3,000 hits: Mel Ott (2,876), Omar Vizquel (2,877), Frankie Frisch (2,880), Zack Wheat (2,884), Al Simmons (2,927), Rogers Hornsby (2,930), Willie Keeler (2,932), Barry Bonds (2,935), Jake Beckley (2,938), Frank Robinson (2,943), Sam Crawford (2,961) and Sam Rice (2,987).
“These names are big,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said recently. “We’re going to approach some really big names with him if this success continues and he reaches some of these milestones. It’s almost intimidating, just to think about all you have to do to get in position of those. Those are names that are attached to the legacy of the entire sport.
“We are having some education on some of these big names, but 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 watch Miggy get closer and closer to all these names.”
Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.