Miguel Cabrera has 500 home runs. But here’s the situation he has never homered in

Detroit Free Press

Miguel Cabrera delivered his 500th home run on Sunday afternoon at Rogers Centre in Toronto, going deep off of Steven Matz with one out in the sixth inning. But you probably knew that already, if you’ve read a scrap of information about the Detroit Tigers over the past three days.

It’s a moment that lets us look back at Cabrera’s career with some perspective. Cabrera’s 14 seasons aren’t all about home runs — there’s also four batting titles, two RBI crowns, back-to-back MVP seasons, a Triple Crown — but there really are a lot of home runs.

So many, actually, that we gave them their own story, right over here, where we broke down the 500 as best we could, from franchise to opponent to handedness. To borrow some journalism jargon, it’s a deep dive. Trust us.

JEFF SEIDEL: Here’s why Cabrera’s 500 home run milestone means so much for Tigers

THE ROAD TO 500: How Al Avila and his crew discovered a teenaged Miguel Cabrera

MIGGY’S EPIC TALES: 10 stories that tell us exactly who Miguel Cabrera is

But if you’re on home run overload, here are five bite-sized Cabrera dinger facts (all stats entering Tuesday’s game in St. Louis).

Load ‘em up

Let’s start this off with a (grand) slam. Cabrera has six career grand slams: Homer No. 136 with the Marlins (of 138 total) on Sept. 15, 2007, and five with the Tigers — homer Nos. 178 (April 10, 2009), 317 (Sept. 18, 2012), 338 (June 1, 2013), 468 (June 4, 2019) and 490 (May 21, 2021). Six slams is pretty good — though it’s one fewer than the career total of the player he displaced at third with the Tigers, Brandon Inge. It’s also worst among the 28 members of the 500-homer club. Mel Ott and Mike Schmidt are just ahead of him, with 7 slams each, and Alex Rodriguez leads the pack with 25 (out of 696 homers).

[ How Tigers, MLB used ‘security program’ to authenticate Miguel Cabrera’s 500th home run ]

Duff tough

Cabrera has homered off 346 pitchers, including at least one blast off 28 of the 29 pitchers who have faced him at least 40 times. His favorite victim? Right-hander Phil Hughes, who has surrendered seven homers in 49 plate appearances by Cabrera against the Yankees and Twins. Then there’s the Anti-Hughes: Left-hander Danny Duffy, who faced Cabrera 64 times with the Royals (before he was dealt to the Dodgers in July). Cabrera has never homered off Duffy among 13 hits (including three doubles), 10 walks and 14 strikeouts.

[ Miguel Cabrera: Everything you ever wanted to know about his 500 home runs ]

In a pinch?

The other thing Cabrera has never done? Homer as a pinch-hitter. All 500 of his homers have come in games in which he started, though, to be fair, that is the vast majority of his games. Cabrera only has 20 plate appearances as a sub. He’s not alone, though; of the 28 members of the 500-homer club — yeah, those guys again — 10 have homered as pinch hitters, for a total of 58 homers. That total is led — by far — by Willie McCovey, who picked up 16 of his 521 homers coming off the bench. The No. 2 member of the club, Mark McGwire, has seven pinch-hit homers.

Closed for business

More than 20% of Cabrera’s homers — 108, or 21.6% — have come at parks no longer home to MLB teams. That is driven up by his former team’s move from Pro Player Park to what’s now named LoanDepot Park (nope, we’re not making that up) in 2012; Cabrera had 65 homers (13% of his total) when the Marlins shared digs with the NFL’s Dolphins.

[ Miggy after hitting 500 home runs: ‘I’ll always thank God for this moment’ ]

But he also has 43 at nine other defunct stadiums: 11 at Atlanta’s Turner Field, eight in Texas’ Globe Life Park (not to be confused with the Rangers’ current Globe Life Field, in which Cabrera has yet to homer), five in Washington’s RFK Stadium, four in St. Louis’ previous iteration of Busch Stadium, three each in Minneapolis’ Metrodome, New York’s Shea Stadium and Estadio Hiram Bithorn of San Juan, Puerto Rico (thanks to the Expos’ short sojourn there), and two each in the previous iteration of Yankee Stadium, Montreal’s Olympic Stadium (Stade Olympique, if you’re reading this in Quebec) and Philadelphia’s Veterans Stadium. (For perspective, there are 12 hitters on the Tigers’ 40-man roster that don’t have 43 homers in their careers.)

Walk ‘em off

Let’s end this with a walk-off … or two, actually: Cabrera has seven game-ending homers among his 500, but only two came in extra innings: No. 1, which he hit at 20 years, 63 days old off Tampa Bay reliever (and future Tiger) Al Levine in the 11th inning on June 20, 2003 – and No. 304, which came on the fifth pitch he saw from Cleveland reliever Chris Perez in the 10th inning on Aug. 5, 2012, a moonshot to left-center at Comerica Park. “It was a little scary,” Cabrera said afterward. “It was high. I was not sure if I hit it out, but I’m glad it go out.”

Perhaps even more impressive than Cabrera’s Sunday afternoon homer was the comeback ahead of it. After making two outs on six pitches against Perez, four straight Tigers reached base to tie the game at 8-8: Alex Avila (walk), Andy Dirks (walk), Austin Jackson (double) and Omar Infante (single). Infante then scored on Cabrera’s homer. “I don’t know how you would explain how that is other than magic right there,” Avila said.

Much like Cabrera’s 500 homers over the past 14 seasons: Magic, indeed.

Contact Ryan Ford at rford@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @theford. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter

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