Miguel Cabrera put on a show for a national-TV audience Sunday night (albeit in a Detroit Tigers loss), smacking three home runs off Rangers pitching. One season after winning the Triple Crown, he’s threatening to do so again — he’s currently carrying a .387 average with 11 homers and 47 RBI.
There’s little question left that we are watching one of baseball’s all-time best hitters play the game. And now the question becomes: If he stays healthy, just how great can he be?
That is the inquiry at the heart of a short post on the Wall Street Journal’s website, wsj.com. Specifically, Darren Everson wonders, is Cabrera the player who can threaten Pete Rose’s all-time hits mark of 4,256?
Caveats and disclaimers: There is a long way to go to 4,256, Rose’s all-time career hits record. Laughably long. Others also have been well ahead of Rose at this age, according to Baseball-Reference.com. Like Alex Rodriguez.
But if anyone is ever going to break Rose’s record, three attributes will be required: skill, durability and a head start. Cabrera—a .320 career hitter who became a major-league regular at age 20 and has played at least 150 games every season except his rookie year—has all three.
Cabrera remains a whopping 2,387 hits behind Rose — more than double his current career total of 1,869. Still, as Everson points out, Cabrera also is on pace to reach 2,000 hits at the age of 30; Rose did not eclipse that milestone until age 32. Cabrera, then, would be on pace to get to the 4,256-hit mark at age 42, three years before Rose got there and then hung up his cleats.
ESPN jumped in with some Cabrera hype of their own during Sunday’s broadcast, comparing the Tigers’ slugger’s stats at age 30 to those of Hank Aaron:
Those Cabrera numbers were from before he blasted three homers and drove in five runs Sunday.