By Ashley Dunkak
COMERICA PARK (CBS Detroit) – A few hours before the Detroit Tigers’ walk-off win Thursday, slugger Miguel Cabrera recalled another walk-off win, 10 years earlier, when he made his major league debut at age 20.
“I remember it was a very exciting day,” he said in Spanish. He remembers that first hit of his career – not difficult since, after going hitless in his first four appearances of that first game, it was his first-pitch home run that finally got the Florida Marlins the win after 11 innings against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
These days, the Florida Marlins are the Miami Marlins, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays are the Tampa Bay Rays, and Cabrera is one of the best baseball has ever seen.
Midway through his 11th season, Cabrera has 1,903 hits, 1,194 RBI, 340 home runs and a .320 career batting average. If those numbers plus winning the Triple Crown are not enough to get him in the Hall of Fame already, Cabrera certainly is on a promising path that direction.
Hank Aaron, Manny Ramirez, Albert Pujols, Frank Thomas and Mark Teixeira are the only other players in MLB history to have 300 home runs and 1,100 RBI over the first 10 years of their careers, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Only Pujols and Al Simmons recorded more RBI through 10 years than Cabrera, who is tied with Lou Gehrig for third-most ever with 1,194.
In 2012 Cabrera became the first player since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 to win the Triple Crown. Only Rogers Hornsby and Ted Williams ever won it twice, but no one has ever won it in consecutive years.
That might change this year. Cabrera is currently first in the American League with a .359 batting average. Cabrera is outpacing everyone with 71 RBI, five more than second-place Chris Davis. He is tied for third with 19 homers behind Davis, who has 26.
As Cabrera’s career plays out on a daily basis, the other Detroit players are very aware that they are playing with one of the best baseball players alive and probably one of the best ever.
“It’s amazing,” Tigers catcher Alex Avila said earlier this season. “There’s nobody in this clubhouse that takes that for granted.”