On June 20, 2003, a 20-year-old left fielder named Miguel Cabrera — four years removed from signing out of Venezuela — made his Major League debut. This was long enough ago that the team he played for was called the Florida Marlins, while the opponents went by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. The starting lineups included current Twins manager Rocco Baldelli and Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez.
Cabrera hit eighth in the lineup, and after starting the night 0-for-4, he blasted a two-run, walk-off homer to dead center field in the 11th inning off reliever Al Levine.
That was career hit No. 1.
In honor of Cabrera’s major milestone, here are 16 facts and figures you need to know about his path to 3,000.
• We already mentioned that first career hit, but what about some other important numbers along the way? Here’s a sample, including the opposing pitcher and hit type:
No. 100: April 20, 2004, Marlins at Phillies (Roberto Hernandez) — single
No. 500: May 12, 2006, Marlins at Pirates (Victor Santos) — single
No. 1,000: Sept. 7, 2008, Tigers at Twins (Glen Perkins) — home run
No. 1,500: July 15, 2011, Tigers vs. White Sox (Gavin Floyd) — single
No. 2,000: April 4, 2014, Tigers vs. Orioles (Ryan Webb) — home run
No. 2,500: Sept. 18, 2016, Tigers at Cleveland (Trevor Bauer) — single
• Cabrera already recorded his 500th career home run on Aug. 22, 2021, at Toronto. He now joins an extremely select group of seven players to reach both 500 home runs and 3,000 hits. The others are Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Eddie Murray, Rafael Palmeiro, Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez.
• How do all those hits break down? Cabrera has recorded 1,882 singles, 599 doubles, 17 triples and 502 homers. If you’re thinking to yourself that you haven’t seen a Miggy triple in a while, you’d be right. The last one came nearly six years ago, on May 17, 2016, against the Twins’ Phil Hughes. Cabrera has recorded more than 500 hits since that last three-bagger.
• Cabrera obviously authored a number of fantastic seasons on his way to 3,000 hits, but one that clearly stands out is 2012, when he hit .330 with 44 homers, 139 RBIs, the first of back-to-back American League MVP Awards and the first Triple Crown in either league since 1967. Cabrera is one of 10 players to win a Triple Crown since RBIs became an official statistic in 1920, and now is the second of those — along with Carl Yastrzemski — to also record 3,000 career hits.
• Cabrera already passed Omar Vizquel’s previous record for the most hits by a Venezuelan-born player (2,877) and now is the first hailing from that country to reach 3,000. Among active Venezuelan players, Oakland’s Elvis Andrus (1,875 hits entering Saturday) is next on the list.
• He is the seventh member of the 3,000-hit club to be born outside the continental U.S., joining Adrián Beltré and Pujols (Dominican Republic), Ichiro Suzuki (Japan), Palmeiro (Cuba), Roberto Clemente (Puerto Rico) and Rod Carew (Panama).
• Cabrera’s 3,000 hits have come in 9,665 at-bats, resulting in a .310 career batting average that is the best among active players. Miggy’s membership in the .300 batting average / 3,000 hit / 500 homer club is safe — he’d have to go 0-for-his-next-352 to drop below .300.
• Of Miggy’s 3,000 hits, exactly one has been a bunt hit. That was all the way back on June 9, 2006, when he was a 23-year-old with the Marlins. It came against Chris Young and the Padres, a perfect bunt down the third-base line. Cabrera even went on to steal second base right after, one of his 39 career stolen bases.
• Cabrera only recorded one 200-hit season on his way to 3,000 but was extremely consistent for a long period of time. From his first full season in 2004 through ‘14, he put together 11 consecutive campaigns of between 177 and 205 knocks. Cabrera is one of 10 players all-time to reach the 180-hit mark at least 11 times in his career.
• Saturday marked the 1,852nd different game in which Cabrera has recorded a hit. He has 857 multi-hit games, 241 games with three or more (including Wednesday night’s effort to reach 2,999), 48 with four or more and two five-hit performances (April 28, 2007, for the Marlins, and July 21, 2008, for the Tigers).
• Who have been Cabrera’s top victims in terms of hits allowed? That would be former AL Central foes James Shields (27), Corey Kluber (25), Phil Hughes (20), Luke Hochevar (19) and Jeremy Guthrie (19).
• One day, Cabrera will almost certainly be inducted into the Hall of Fame. When he is, he will join at least eight pitchers he recorded a hit against: Tom Glavine (12 hits), Greg Maddux (eight), John Smoltz (seven), Pedro Martinez (six), Mike Mussina (four), Randy Johnson (four), Mariano Rivera (two) and Roy Halladay (one).
• Other Miggy favorites? Cleveland has allowed more hits to him than any other team (266). Comerica Park obviously has hosted more Cabrera knocks than any other ballpark (1,108), but Cleveland’s Progressive Field is the leader (139) among stadiums he has never called home.
• Cabrera has at least five hits against each of the 30 teams and at least 37 against every team other than the two he’s played for (Marlins and Tigers). He has recorded at least one base hit in 41 different ballparks, including long-defunct locations such as Montreal’s Olympic Stadium (seven), Philadelphia’s Veterans Stadium (nine) and Minnesota’s Metrodome (17).
• While Cabrera batted eighth in his aforementioned MLB debut, he quickly became a trusted middle-of-the-order bat. Roughly 92 percent of his career hits (2,770) have come while batting either third or fourth in the lineup. With that said, Cabrera does have at least one hit in each lineup slot, including exactly one in the leadoff spot (a pinch-hit single last July 7).
• Cabrera’s first 842 hits came with the Marlins, where he started his career. Even having not played for them since 2007, his hits total in a Marlins uniform ranks sixth in club history, trailing only Luis Castillo (1,273), Hanley Ramirez (1,103), Jeff Conine (1,005), Mike Lowell (965) and Giancarlo Stanton (960).