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Mr. 3,002: Cabrera Joins Exclusive Company

Miguel Cabrera

Miguel Cabrera

Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

Miguel Cabrera is already considered one of the greatest hitters to ever play the sport, and he didn’t need any more milestones to confirm that placement.

He got another one, anyway. With a single in the first inning, Cabrera picked up his 3,000th hit of his MLB career off of Antonio Senzatela during the first game of a doubleheader. He would also single in two runs later in the contest, helping the Tigers to a 13-0 victory in that first contest.

The 3,000 hit club is a rare one. There’s a good chance that’s an obvious point, but sometimes obvious points are worth repeating. In the many, many years of Major League Baseball, Cabrera becomes just the 33rd player to accrue 3,000 hits. He’s one of just two active players to hit that mark -- joining fellow legend Albert Pujols -- and assuming good health, he’s likely to finish the year in the top 25 all-time in that category.

What’s even rarer is the 3,000 hit, 500 homer club, and Cabrera is the latest member of that list. The players that have done it: Hank Aaron, Alex Rodriguez, Pujols, Willie Mays, Rafael Palmeiro, Eddie Murray and Cabrera. Four of those players are in the Hall of Fame, Pujols is active, and the other two, well, there’s some stuff going on. But it doesn’t make that group any less exclusive or impressive.

Now, the question on everyone’s minds -- or at least on the minds of some, like the person writing this column -- is who could be next to join that 3k hit club? The next closest active hitter to that mark is Robinson Cano, who entered Saturday with 2,630 hits. At the age of 39, it’s unlikely he can be counted on to get 270 more knocks, but it’s not entirely impossible. No other active hitter has more than 2,116, and the two other players with more than 2,000 are Molina at age 39 and Joey Votto at age 38. The most realistic options are probably Jose Altuve and Freddie Freeman, who are both 32 and over the 1,700 hit club, but they are far from locks.

Long story short, it’s going to be a while before we see someone get into the 3,000 club, and we should appreciate just how rare it is to see a player hit for average and power the way he has over his entire career. Truly one of the greatest hitters to ever play the sport.

Hitters with an EDGE

Seiya Suzuki vs. Pirates

3-for-4, 3 R, SB

The Cubs put up three touchdowns worth of runs in a 21-0 rout of the Pirates on Saturday, so there were plenty of hitters who deserve to be featured on this list. Let’s spend more time gushing about Suzuki, however, who stole his first base of the season in the drubbing. With his wheels, it’s very unlikely that it’s his last, and he should get more green lights as the season progresses. With a .512 on-base percentage and .721 mark, it’s physically impossible to not be impressed with what Suzuki has done so far. Calling him the favorite for Rookie of the Year is beyond an understatement.

Byron Buxton vs. Cubs

4-for-4, HR, 2B, 3 R, 2 RBI

Please stay healthy, Byron. The sport is so much better when he’s on the field. Blah blah blah analysis, slugging .844, yada yada yada. Just please let Buxton stay healthy, because there are very few players in the sport that are better when he’s on the field.

Starting Pitchers with an EDGE

Garrett Whitlock vs. Rays

4 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 SO

It was Whitlock’s first career start, but you’d never know it watching him pitch on Saturday. He dominated the Tampa Bay lineup while showing the same level of stuff as a starter he has in relief. It’s very hard to imagine how a player of this talent was a Rule 5 draft selection, but the Yankees loss is Boston’s gain. The question now is if he can stay in the rotation or be used in a real-life valuable (but not so much in fantasy) role as a multi-inning reliever. Here’s hoping it’s the former.

Frankie Montas vs. Rangers

7 2/3 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 SO

Unfortunately for Montas, this strong outing came in a loss to Texas (worth pointing out that Martin Perez fired six scoreless innings in this one, too). Still, it was an outstanding effort for the right-hander, and he completely blanked the Rangers until a two-run single by Brad Miller broke up the shutout. Montas has been a strong fantasy option for a while now, but doesn’t seem to get the attention he deserves. That should change, and the fact that he’s likely to be traded before the summer comes to an end only adds to his potential to help fantasy rosters. Even in Oakland, there’s a lot to like.

Priority Pickup

Daniel Vogelbach -- available in 93 percent of Yahoo fantasy baseball leagues.

Can’t say I was expecting this one, but it’s time to start looking into Vogelbach if you’re a fantasy player who needs help at the corner infield position. He’s homered three times in his 13 games with the Bucs, and he’s slashing .311/.380/.556 while locked into an everyday role with Pittsburgh. Is there a chance this all comes crashing down? Of course, but Vogelbach is not without talent, and it’s possible that a breakout season is coming. The worst thing that happens is you drop him in a couple weeks if/when this slows down.

Closing Time

Josh Hader has always been pretty good at this, but what a ridiculous two-plus weeks it’s been for the southpaw. After another scoreless outing on Saturday against the Phillies, he’s yet to allow a run, and he’s already picked up seven saves. That puts him on pace for 67 saves on the year, which obviously isn’t sustainable, but it’s wonderful to see for those that used a high draft pick/spent a good amount of salary cap money to add him to your respective roster.

In a game that will be remembered more for knuckleheads throwing things at fans than anything else, Emmanuel Clase did not look the part on Saturday. He allowed two runs on his two hits, including a walk-off single to Gleyber Torres. It’s a very small sample, but a closer that was often drafted third at his position has a 7.71 ERA in April. Can’t panic yet, but, not what fantasy managers signed up for.

Camilo Doval was tasked with picking up his third save of the season, and pick up that save he did. The right-hander gave up one hit, didn’t walk anyone and also added a strikeout. Jake McGee has also picked up a pair of saves for the Giants, but Doval is going to continue to get chances, it appears. It’d be nice if there was more clarity, but this particular writer believes that Doval is the pitcher to roster.

Matt Bush, Adam Cimber, Alex Colome and Tanner Scott were among the other hurlers to get a save on Saturday.

Matchup of the Day

Clayton Kershaw vs. Sean Manaea

A very easy one to pick for Sunday in a year where it hasn’t been for a variety of reasons. Kershaw wasn’t nearly as good in his second start of the year -- it’s hard to be better than seven perfect innings, to be clear -- but is still off to an excellent beginning with 20 strikeouts in 12 innings with a 3.00 ERA. Manaea also threw seven no-hitting innings in his first start, and has allowed just three runs in 19 innings with a 1.42 ERA and 19/5 K/BB ratio for his effort. Could be a good one.

American League Quick Hits: White Sox manager Tony La Russa told reporters on Saturday that the team believes Eloy Jiménez’s hamstring injury is “significant.” He left the game on a cart after attempting to beat out a grounder. … James Paxton (elbow) hopes to return to the mound by the All-Star break. … Rays placed INF Yandy Diaz on the COVID-19 injured list … J.D. Martinez (groin) remains out of the Red Sox’ starting lineup for Saturday’s showdown against the Rays. … John Means (elbow) will undergo Tommy John elbow reconstructive surgery Wednesday.

National League Quick Hits: Michael Conforto underwent shoulder surgery and will miss all of the 2022 season. … Ronald Acuña Jr. (knee) went 2-for-3 with a run scored, an RBI and three walks on Saturday for Triple-A Gwinnett. … Luke Voit is currently dealing with biceps soreness. … Fernando Tatis Jr. (wrist) went through baseball activities before Saturday’s game against the Dodgers. … Blake Snell (groin) is throwing off the mound and facing hitters on Saturday. … Reds activated OF Tyler Naquin from the COVID-19 injured list.