by Ryan ‘Turbo’ Jackson
You don’t need to be a Tigers fan to know that Miguel Cabrera surpassed the 3000th hit plateau this past weekend. This is important because Tigers fans have known he is special since the moment they traded for him in 2007 and now he is forever imprinted in baseball history. He is the 33rd player to obtain this achievement and one of two active players to have that merit. He is the third player to have 3000 hits, 500 home runs, and a .300 batting average. He is the last player to hit for the triple crown, 11-time all-star, two-time MVP, 4 time batting champ, but does all of this make him the greatest right handed hitter of all time?
To set the stage for this discussion, I am going to point out the fact that it is harder to hit in this day and age than ever before. Players in previous generations did not have to face pitchers that all pitch 90 mph or more and they were not as specialized as pitchers are these days. Agree or not, that is what I am basing this debate on. Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Albert Pujols, Manny Ramirez are a handful of players that most think of when broaching this subject. I could just run stats upon stats justifying one of these players but that would be super boring and not my style so I will go a different approach. While I firmly believe that all will be in the Hall of Fame eventually, I think out of the above mentioned, Manny is the odd man out in that discussion. His stats should get him in but off field things will probably keep him out on the first couple ballots and even though it pains my Red Sox heart, he will be left out of this discussion. Aaron and Mays could or should be on most every baseball fan’s Mt. Rushmore of greatest players of all time and comparing players of different generations is impossible. I am not downgrading what they accomplished but as I stated above, I believe it is harder to hit in today’s game.
So we are left with Pujols and Cabrera. Both guys came in the league around the same time and are still playing, however both seem to be leaning towards the end of their careers so we can compare numbers. Pujols has over 300 more hits, over 175 more homers and their career batting averages are very similar. Miggy is three years younger so there is that too. What separates them in my book is longevity. Albert did most of his damage early in his career and never really regained his form once he left St. Louis on his way to the Angels. His Angels career was never what they expected when they signed him. Miggy was very consistent all throughout his career. The one stat that I will say is in Miggy’s favor is he has almost 1700 less at bats then Albert. He could do a lot of damage during that time and the stat lines would be way closer than they are now.
So here is where the rubber meets the road. Albert overshadowed Miggy for most of his early career. There were more eyes on him at that point because the Cardinals were more relevant in the post season than both the Marlins and Tigers, even with the Marlins winning a World Series in that time. Now I am going to throw in a wild card. Mike Trout. Since 2011 when he made his debut, he has taken the league by storm and has become, in some folks’ eyes, the best player of all time. However, using the argument above, one would think that Miggy would garner more attention than Trout because the Angels never made the playoffs during that time frame but with the things Trout did, and did them year in and year ou,t took a lot of the attention from Miggy. So where does this leave Miggy? In my eyes, as I write this in 2022, he is the greatest right-handed hitter ever. I think if Trout continues to do his thing we might have to look back on this and reevaluate but right now…we all should be excited that we had the chance to see Miggy play, especially locally here in Detroit.
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