HOUSTON — Detroit Tigers veteran Miguel Cabrera is a member of an exclusive club, joining Hank Aaron and Albert Pujols.
They’re the only players in MLB history with at least 3,000 hits, 500 home runs and 600 doubles. At some point, Cabrera will reflect on his milestones and accomplishments across his 20-year career.
But that’s not his priority right now.
“I don’t really know what to say,” Cabrera said Sunday. “It was nice to see my name with theirs, but at the same time, I’m focused right now on winning games. We’ve been losing too many games, and right now it doesn’t matter.”
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Cabrera notched his 600th double in Saturday’s 3-2 loss to the Houston Astros, becoming the 18th player in MLB history to do so. The 39-year-old drilled a sixth-pitch curveball from Astros left-hander Framber Valdez to the left-field corner at Minute Maid Park.
The historic double plated two runs for a 2-0 Tigers lead.
But the Tigers squandered the advantage, as well as a dominant start from left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, in the eighth inning. Cabrera’s team, despite leadoff hits in seven of nine innings, finished 1-for-16 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine runners on the bases.
“When we start getting hits with two outs,” Cabrera said, “when we start hitting more with men in scoring position, the pressure is going to be off and we’re going to be able to score more runs and play better.”
The Tigers (8-18) enter Sunday with the worst record in the American League, owning a miserable .308 winning percentage. If it weren’t for the 4-23 Cincinnati Reds, the Tigers would be the worst team in baseball.
Detroit sits eight games behind the Chicago White Sox for first place in the AL Central. To reach 90 wins, which would likely punch a ticket to the postseason, the Tigers must finish the season with an 82-54 record.
“We need to have more focus,” Cabrera said. “It’s about winning games. It doesn’t matter what happened last night. We got another loss. It’s tough to think about milestones right now when we’ve been losing a lot of games.”
Tigers manager A.J. Hinch isn’t surprised by Cabrera’s reaction. The former two-time MVP offered similar responses during his chase for 3,000 hits. He was determined to record his 3,000th hit in a Tigers victory at Comerica Park.
That happened April 23, as the Tigers beat the Colorado Rockies, 13-0, in front of 37,566 fans at the ballpark Cabrera calls home. But his 600th double occurred in the Tigers’ third consecutive loss to the Astros.
It was the 11th loss in 13 games.
“He hates losing,” Hinch said Sunday. “If he’s willing to talk about the team at the height of his personal accomplishments, that tells me all I need to know about Miguel Cabrera. He wants to win today’s game. He wants to have better results. He wants to go home happy. And I believe him.”
Cabrera leads the Aaron and Pujols duo with a .310 batting average. Aaron hit .305 in his 23-year MLB career; Pujols, still active with the St. Louis Cardinals, is hitting .297 in his 22-year career.
In 2022, Cabrera has a .268 batting average with three doubles, a home run, nine RBIs, six walks and 25 strikeouts in 23 games. His 93 wRC+ (Weighted Runs Created Plus) paints him as one of the Tigers’ most consistent hitters this season, ranking fourth among nine players with at least 50 plate appearances.
The Tigers’ offense ranks 25th in MLB with an 83 wRC+, with 100 being league average. They’re last in MLB with 11 home runs and a .087 isolated power percentage, and they’re 27th with a .609 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.
Averaging 3.00 runs per games, the Tigers are in sole possession of the worst scoring offense in baseball — behind the Kansas City Royals (3.04). League average for run scoring is 4.08 per game.
Cabrera knows the Tigers must improve before it’s too late.
“Everybody is on the same page right now,” Cabrera said. “Everybody is focused. We need to win more games; we need to play better. That’s the bottom line right now. We need to go out there today, play aggressive and try to win the game.”
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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Miguel Cabrera happy about milestones, but focused on fading Tigers