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Venezuela’s Miguel Cabrera became the 28th member of Major League Baseball’s 500 Home Run Club on Sunday, 22 August. The Detroit Tigers’ first baseman hit the historic home run in the sixth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays.
The “500 Home Run Club” has long been one of baseball’s most famous and revered groups. However, it was somewhat lessened in the midst of the “steroid era”. Even so, Major League Baseball has been played for more than a century, and there are only 28 players with at least 500 career home runs.
His career seemed to be near the end, especially when his performance was in decline over the last few years. So it was reasonable to question whether Cabrera would ever reach 500. He hit 446 home runs in 2016 but managed just 16, 3, and 10 over the next three years, respectively, due to the natural passage of time and various injuries. Then there was the pandemic-shortened season, though he did hit 10 home runs in 57 games. Picking up the pace in that way really boosted him heading into this season.
500 home runs and .300 average
Cabrera, 38, is the first Venezuelan-born player to hit 500 homers. But his name in baseball history could add a separate chapter if he connects for 45 more hits. All indications are that he will eventually become the seventh player all-time to be a member of both the “500 Home Run Club” and the “3,000 Hits Club”. Cabrera is also one of only a handful of players who could finish their careers with more than 500 home runs and a batting average over .300.
In this 500 home run club group, .300 average, and ahead of Miguel Cabrera are Ted Williams, Manny Ramirez, Mel Ott, Frank Thomas, Jimmie Fox, Hank Aaron, and Babe Ruth.
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The Detroit Tigers originally acquired Cabrera in December 2007 as part of an eight-player trade that also included Detroit left-hander Dontrelle Willis. In exchange, the Tigers parted with future major leaguers Burke Badenhop, Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller, Frankie De La Cruz, and Mike Rabelo.
The Tigers later signed Cabrera to an eight-year extension worth $152 million before he appeared in his first regular season with the team. That contract was going to expire in 2015, but the Tigers then extended Cabrera again to another eight-year pact worth $248 million in March 2014. So Cabrera has two more guaranteed years in Detroit and will pocket a total of $64 million. At this point, it seems unlikely that Cabrera will receive a third renewal in 2023. Especially considering his age and declining performance.
All the club’s members
With Cabrera’s 500th homer out of the way, there are five active players who are now closest to the record.
Babe Ruth was the first MLB player to inaugurate the “500 Club”, reaching the figure in 1929. Jimmie Foxx joined the “Big Bambino” in 1940 and after him, Mel Ott joined them in 1945. In the 1960s, the group was joined by Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Eddie Mathews, and Hank Aaron. Three more were added before the end of the 1971 season with Ernie Banks, Harmon Killebrew, and Frank Robinson. Only Willie McCovey would get there between 1971 and 1984, while Reggie Jackson and Mike Schmidt would get there in the 1980s. Eddie Murray and Mark McGwire joined the club in the 1990s.
Then the explosion arrived. From 2001 to 2009, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Ken Griffey Jr, Frank Thomas, Alex Rodriguez, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, and Gary Sheffield reached 500 homers.
After them, Albert Pujols (2014) and David Ortiz (2015) added their names to the list. Six years later, Cabrera added the last line to the exclusive list.
But as if celebrating 500 homers wasn’t enough, the Maracay native will also reach another club shortly. With 2,955 hits to his credit, Cabrera is very close to 3,000. When he reaches that figure, he will join Aaron, Rodriguez, Pujols, Mays, Palmeiro, and Murray as the only players in history with 3,000 hits and 500 home runs.
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