2,400 hits will be a reminder of Miguel Cabrera’s greatness

Miguel Cabrera had just been buzzed by a 97-mph fastball from Blue Jays relievers Robert Osuna. He hit the ground hard, got up slowly and took a couple of seconds to collect himself.

He didn’t seem to even glance at Osuna. What he did next speaks volumes about him on so many levels.

He didn’t scream at Osuna. He didn’t charge the mound. Instead, he got even in the ultimate way.

Two pitches after being knocked down,  Cabrera turned another 97-mph fastball into a towering game-tying double off the wall in right-center in the bottom of the ninth inning.

The Tigers rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the bottom of the ninth, then won the game 3-2 in the 10th as part of a run that has them 30-29 and tied with the Royals for second place in the AL Central, three games behind the Indians.

Former Tigers manager Jim Leyland sometimes would scold reporters asking him to compare Cabrera to other players.

“Don’t even try,” he would say or something close.

Leyland wanted us to appreciate that we’re watching one of the best baseball players ever. There just aren’t many worthy of comparison.

Cabrera will step onto the field at Yankee Stadium on Friday with 2,399 career hits, the 124th-most in history.

Here’s the part of that number that’s so striking: At 33 years, 53 days, Cabrera will be the fifth-youngest player to collect 2,400 hits, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Every young player is a Hall of Famer: Ty Cobb (31 years, 177 days), Rogers Hornsby (32 years, 86 days), Hank Aaron (32 years, 198 days) and Robin Yount (33 years, 8 days).

He made his big league debut at 20, and in 14 seasons since, his resume includes 10 All-Star Games, a Triple Crown, two MVPs and five other top five MVP finishes.

He has four batting championships, and his .959 OPS is the 16th-highest of all-time, his .561 slugging 15th. He’s climbing the leaderboard in RBI (58th), doubles (58th), home runs (50th) and a string of other numbers.

There have been times in recent seasons when it was easy to wonder if he could still perform at an elite level.

His performance suffered at times as he attempted to play through a string of injuries. This season, though, he has played in all 59 Tigers games with 12 home runs, 12 doubles and a .904 OPS. He took a 10-game hitting streak into Friday’s game.

He has played in all 59 Tigers games this season and is showing he’s still capable of being one of the game’s elite players.

There’s something special about being able to watch a player that is going to be remembered as one of the best ever.

For this, we are the lucky ones.

 

 

 

 

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