Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera joins elite MLB club with 3,000th hit

DETROIT — Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera joined baseball’s elite on Saturday afternoon, connecting for his 3,000th career hit.

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Cabrera, who turned 39 on Monday, collected the milestone hit against the Colorado Rockies at Detroit’s Comerica Park, becoming the 33rd player in MLB history to reach the plateau. Cabrera hit a 1-1 pitch to right field off Rockies starter Antonio Senzatela in the bottom of the first inning to become the first Venezuelan native to reach 3,000 hits.

Cabrera, who has spent 15 of his 20 major-league seasons with the Tigers, joined an even more exclusive club. He is third player in MLB history to collect 3,000 hits, connect for 500 home runs and have a career batting average of .300 or higher. Hall of Famers Willie Mays and Hank Aaron are the other two players. He is also the seventh MLB player with 3,000 hits and 500 home runs.

Heading into Saturday, Cabrera had 502 career home runs. He has yet to hit one in 2022.

Albert Pujols was the last MLB player to reach 3,000 career hits. Pujols, then with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, got No. 3,000 on May 4, 2018, in Seattle, according to Baseball-Reference.com.

Cabrera had a career batting average of .308 heading into Saturday’s game against the Colorado Rockies. He had to wait several days before reaching the milestone. Friday’s game at Comerica Park was postponed.

He collected three hits in his first three at-bats on Wednesday to reach 2,999 hits but struck out to end the eighth inning. On Thursday, Cabrera went 0-for-3 and was intentionally walked in his final at-bat, which brought boos from the crowd directed at New York manager Aaron Boone.

Cabrera, however, said he was not upset after the game, telling reporters “it’s baseball.”

My on-base percentage went up!” Cabrera said with a laugh when asked about getting walked. “And we scored two runs. That’s the beauty of baseball. ... I would rather go 0-for-3 and see my team win.”

Cabrera’s average this season prior to Thursday’s game was .333.

He is the last player to win baseball’s Triple Crown. In 2012, Cabrera had American League-leading figures in home runs (44), RBI (139) and batting average (.330), according to Baseball-Reference.com. Cabrera’s Triple Crown was the first in MLB since Carl Yastrzemski did it for the Boston Red Sox during the “Impossible Dream” season of 1967.

Cabrera was originally signed by the Florida Marlins out of Venezuela, CBS Sports reported. He made his MLB debut on June 20, 2003, starting in left field for the Marlins against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He failed to get a hit in his first four at-bats but hit a two-run, walk-off home run in the 11th inning for his first hit, giving the Marlins a 3-1 victory, according to Retrosheet.org.

With hit No. 3,000, Cabrera becomes the third Tigers player to reach the plateau while playing the bulk of his career in Detroit. Hall of Famer Ty Cobb had 3,900 of his 4,189 hits in 22 years with Detroit (he spent his final two seasons with the Philadelphia Athletics), and fellow Hall of Famer Al Kaline had 3,007 hits during his 23-year career, all spent with the Tigers.

Cabrera had 2,158 hits in a Tigers uniform before Thursday’s game.

Cobb got No. 3,000 on Aug. 19, 1921. Kaline’s milestone was achieved on Sept. 24, 1974, his final season.