During Spring Training in February, Tigers’ first baseman and designated hitter Miguel Cabrera announced he was retiring at season’s end. Well, we’re almost at the end of the regular season. With a 66-78 record, Detroit needs to focus on playoff contention. Cabrera has had a legendary 21-year career, with sixteen being with the Tigers. Before Miguel officially hangs it up, we must appreciate all he’s done. Without a doubt, Miggy has made his mark on the MLB, and there will be plenty of future players who idolize Cabrera’s tremendous career. Let’s enjoy Miguel’s final few weeks and look into his 21-year Hall of Fame career.
Miguel Cabrera made his Major League debut on June 20, 2003, with the Florida Marlins at just twenty years old. Miggy won the game during his debut against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays by hitting a walk-off home run. He joined Billy Parker and Josh Bard as the only players to walk off during their major league debut. A couple of months later, Cabrera and the Marlins would defeat the New York Yankees in the World Series, giving the Marlins their franchise’s second championship. Cabrera earned his first all-star nod in 2004, having 11 more throughout his career. During his time in Florida, Miguel did not play in the infield but in the outfield, eventually moving to play third and first base.
Heading to Detroit
After missing the playoffs in four consecutive seasons, the Marlins traded Cabrera to Detroit in December 2007. Florida traded Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to the Tigers for four pitchers and two positional players. He would sign an eight-year 152 million-dollar offer with the Tigers in late March. He then made his debut with Detroit on March 31, 2008. Miggy went one for five with a home run and two strikeouts in a loss over the Kansas City Royals. A few weeks later, on April 22, Tigers manager Jim Leyland announced Cabrera would be moving to first base. Miggy would hit 37 home runs, which would be a new career-high for him. Those 37 home runs in 2008 led the American League. He became the youngest player to lead the AL in home runs since Troy Glaus in 2000.
2012 & 2013 MVP Seasons
From 2008-2010, Detroit was still trying to add all the right pieces for a contending team. In 2011, the Tigers made the playoffs, changing the narrative for this struggling team. Detroit would sign first baseman Prince Fielder, which left Cabrera going back to play third base. The 2012 season will be a season Detroit fans will remember for a long time. Not only did the Tigers become American League champions and make the World Series, but Cabrera would win the Triple Crown. He became the first player since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 to achieve this feat. Miguel Cabrera led the AL with a .330 batting average while leading the majors with 44 home runs and 139 batted in. Detroit would get swept by the San Francisco Giants in the 2012 World Series, but Miggy took home his first AL MVP Award home.
His monster performance from the 2012 season would spill into the next season. Miggy went on to win his third straight AL batting title in 2013. He became the first Tiger since Ty Cobb to win three batting titles straight. He was the first American League player to win the award thrice since Wade Boggs. Also, he was the first right-hander to win three in a row since Rogers Hornsby. Cabrera would win his second American League MVP Award. He became the first AL player to win the award back-to-back times since Frank Thomas. Miguel Cabrera joined Hank Greenberg and Hal Newhouser as the only Tigers to win the MVP Award multiple times. As for his team, the Tigers would fall in the ALCS to the Boston Red Sox, who would win the World Series.
Second Contract Extension with Detroit
By 2014, Miguel Cabrera would return to playing first base and sign another contract extension with the Tigers. Miggy signed an eight-year contract worth 248 million dollars. On April 4, 2014, he would go on to achieve his 2000th hit against the Baltimore Orioles. 2014 would mark the last time we would see the Tigers in playoff contention.
Backend of His Career & Achievements
In 2015, Cabrera won his fourth AL batting title. He would win his seventh and final Silver Slugger Award the following year. He becomes one of 13 players to win the award seven times or more since the award was introduced in 1980. Miggy would proceed to deal with several injuries that hindered his performance in the 2017 and 2018 MLB season. By this time, Miguel would be 36 years old, showing signs of his age and not being the same player he once was. That has included him in helping Detroit when they needed it.
Despite being on the downhill of his career, Miggy has shown up proud daily to play in Detroit. He became the 28th player in Major League history with 500 home runs in 2021. He’s the first-ever Tigers player to accomplish this tremendous goal. Last season, he recorded his 3000th hit, becoming the 33rd player in history to attain this feat. He’s the seventh player in MLB history to have over 3000 hits and 500 home runs. Cabrera also became the first player in history to have 3000 hits, 500 home runs, 600 doubles, and at least one Triple Crown. Miguel has 3,160 hits, 510 home runs, and 1,876 runs, with a lifetime batting average of .301. Miguel Cabrera is a future first-ballot Hall of Famer, and he deserves the chance to be in Cooperstown after an illustrious career.
Main Photo Credits: David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports