They don’t do them like Miguel Cabrera anymore.
On Sunday, Cabrera, the 38-year-old Detroit Tigers slugger, landed the 500th home run of his brilliant career, taking a 1-1 change to Steven Matz of the Blue Jays and dropping him 400 feet into the center field stands. . at the Rogers Center in Toronto. He’s the 28th player to reach the milestone, and as he went through the basics at the start of the sixth inning, it was fair to wonder how long it would take before there was a 29th.
To think about a long wait for the next 500 Homer Club member seems absurd given the rise of baseball over the past 20 years. The club’s membership grew so much that it watered down a feat that once came with automatic entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Still, a look at the active players behind Cabrera offers surprisingly few candidates capable of doing so in the next five years.
Cabrera even provided a bit of drama by passing 31 batters between his 499th and 500th home runs. According to Elias’ sports office, that was well below the waiting record between killer wins, as Jimmie Foxx waited for 61 at-bat.
For Cabrera, 500 circuits are far from the only thing that sets him apart from his peers. A two-time MVP winner, he has a Hall of Fame resume that includes a triple crown in 2012, which shattered a 44-season streak without one; three more batting titles; and a World Series ring. Soon he will become the 33rd player with 3,000 career hits. He had 2,954 before Sunday’s game.
Cabrera did all of this as a player seemingly out of step with his generation.
Debates raged in 2012 over whether Cabrera, who was chasing the triple crown, should take a back seat in the MVP vote to Mike Trout, the Los Angeles Angels star who has far surpassed him in wins above. replacement thanks to huge advantages in base running and defense. But even if he didn’t come with Trout’s full skill set, Cabrera’s feat of hitting shine proved to be irresistible to voters, and he repeated as MVP the following year in a season. which was perhaps even more impressive, regardless of where he landed in the leaderboards, and regardless of the belief by many that Trout was the best player in the game.
Cabrera is a step back in many ways. While it’s hard to pick the best stats to highlight from a career in which he’s gone from being a baby-faced prodigy for the 2003 World Series-winning Florida Marlins to the The lasting strength we see today, perhaps the most striking number is his career batting average of 0.311. This is the highest rating among active players, and unlike Albert Pujols, his closest active peer in terms of career accomplishments, Cabrera racked up enough of a cushion in his prime that he didn’t not have to watch its average sink below 0.300 before. retirement.
At a time when the league-wide batting average is the lowest since 1968, Cabrera’s seven-season span from 2009 to 2015, when he hit 0.332 in just under 4,000 at bat, appears to be a work of fiction.
Those days, unfortunately, are far behind him.
Even with a slight resurgence for Cabrera and Pujols this season, baseball is preparing for a while without them. It’s hard to predict how much time they have left, as both players have stuck around despite having little to offer beyond the occasional right-handed pop. But it’s easy to say that we won’t see players reaching similar milestones for quite a while.
As for the 500 circuits, a wait of five years (or more) seems likely.
Nelson Cruz of the Tampa Bay Rays was 57 under-500 homers until Saturday, but he turned 41 on July 1 and is likely to fade at some point despite no evidence that process has started. The next-highest player on the active roster, Robinson Cano, turns 39 in October, and after being suspended for the 2021 season, it’s hard to see him hitting 166 more home runs.
Giancarlo Stanton needed 168 until Saturday, an achievable number for a 31-year-old who has already reached 59 in just one season. But he’s only 27 in the past three seasons combined, and his complicated medical history makes him a wild card.
Justin Upton, Joey Votto and Evan Longoria – No.6, 7 and 8 on the active roster – seem too old and far away to make a run altogether, even though Votto is making his best impression of Henry Aaron in recent days.
That leaves the most likely candidate, beyond Stanton, to Trout, who turned 30 this month. He’s 190 years old and, with decent health, could get there in five or six seasons.
That expectation seems extraordinary when you consider that the membership of the 500-homer club has grown from 16 to 28 over the past 20 seasons. He added three members in just 81 days in 2007. But in the history of the club, it wouldn’t be such a noticeable gap.
Babe Ruth founded the club with his 500th circuit on August 11, 1929. It will take another 11 years before Jimmie foxx joined him on September 24, 1940. Mel Ott was third in 1945, then there was a 15-year wait until Ted williams did so in 1960. More recently there has been a nine-year gap between Mike Schmidt’s 500th on April 18, 1987, and that of Eddie Murray September 6, 1996.
These shortcomings arose before performance enhancing drugs swept the sport. The wave of 12 new members over a 17-year period ending in 2015 included seven players (Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez and Gary Sheffield) who appear unlikely to be signed up for Cooperstown at all times. soon.
But it can be seen as another way Cabrera is different. Barring a drastic change in circumstances, he and Pujols are expected to enter the Hall of Fame the first year they are eligible. The only real question is whether their induction will be in 2027 – which would require retirement after this season – or whether they will wait until 2028.