You may have missed it, as Major League Baseball is struggling to generate any interest with the NFL and Taylor Swift teaming up to dominate the American sports world. But the only person to win MLB’s Triple Crown in the last 50 years hung up his spikes on Sunday when the Detroit Tigers closed their season with a 5-2 win over the Cleveland Guardians. Cabrera, who certainly had some off-field issues during his 21-year career, called it quits as just the third player in AL/NL history to finish his career with a .300+ average, 500+ home runs and 3,000+ hits. The only others: Willie Mays and Hank Aaron.
Cabrera is only 40 years old and played in the majors for more than two decades. He is one of the best players of his generation and a surefire first-ballot Hall of Famer. However, likely because he played for the Marlins and Tigers, he’s never been as celebrated as much as inferior players who suited up for ballclubs like the Yankees, Red Sox, Mets or Dodgers.
The last back-to-back MVP in baseball, Cabrera was the best hitter in from 2011-15 and won four batting titles during that five-year span. Unfortunately for him, that’s the only period when the Tigers were competitive —Detroit went to the playoffs for four straight years beginning in 2011 but has missed out on the postseasons since ’14. The lack of playoff appearances combined with playing in a less exposed market like Detroit is probably to blame for Cabrera not achieving superstar status, despite putting up better numbers than many household names. Cabrera, who was 0-for-3 with a walk on Sunday, may not get the recognition, but his statistics put him in a category with few other MLB players.
“Thank you to the city of Detroit, the Tigers organization, my teammates,” Cabrera said after Sunday’s game. “I am sorry, there was a lot of pressure. It was the hardest game I’ve ever played in my career…I am going to miss you guys. I am going to miss this game.”
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Cabrera’s final career game was also the last trip around the diamond for three-time AL Manager of the Year Terry Francoa. Francona was the manager of Cleveland since 2016 and helped the Red Sox win the World Series in 2004 — for the first time in 86 years — and 2007. Tim Wakefield, who passed away over the weekend, was on both of those teams.
“I don’t think I need to be eulogized,” Francona said. “Maybe after my doctor’s appointment tomorrow, you never know.”