(CBS Detroit) — Miguel Cabrera has long been destined for the Hall of Fame. For years, it’s been a matter of when, rather than if. The Detroit Tigers slugger just added another line to his impressive resume, hitting his 500th home run. The Tigers may not have a shot at the playoffs, but with just over a month left in the 2021 regular season, most of the division races remain undecided. The New York Mets, however, are doing their best to take themselves out of contention in the National League East.
This week’s Baseball Report looks at Miguel Cabrera’s 500th home run, the New York Mets’ continuing collapse, and the Chicago Cubs’ home losing streak.
Miguel Cabrera Hits 500th Career Home Run
The 500 Home Run Club has another member. On Sunday night, Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera took a 1-1 pitch deep to right field for his 500th career home run. The 400-foot blast in the sixth inning brought the Tigers even with the Toronto Blue Jays. Detroit would go on to win the game, 5-3, in 11 innings.
The 19-year veteran is just the 28th player in MLB history to reach the milestone. The select list includes many of the game’s all-time greats, topped by Barry Bonds with 762 HRs. Henry Aaron, Babe Ruth, Alex Rodriguez, and Albert Pujols round out the top five.
Cabrera is also on pace to finish his distinguished career as part of a couple other distinguished groups. The longtime Tiger is just 45 hits shy of 3,000 hits, which would make him one of seven players to pick up 500 home runs and 3,000 hits over the course of his career. With a lifetime .311 batting average to date, he’s also likely to wrap up his playing days with an average somewhere north of .300. That would make him one of just nine players to hit 500 home runs and also bat over .300.
Few players have been able to maintain such a high average and reach the 500 HR mark.
— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) August 22, 2021
Even without this achievement, Cabrera would have been a first-ballot Hall of Famer when his time came. He was MVP of the American League twice and has 11 All-Star Games to his credit. He also won the World Series in his 2003 rookie season with the Florida Marlins.
Cabrera reaching the 500-home run milestone seemed uncertain in recent seasons. After hitting 38 home runs to end the 2016 season with 446, his production dropped off precipitously. It took him five seasons seasons to hit the next 54. Injuries and old age deserve some of the blame. COVID also shortened the 2020 campaign. Cabrera has two more guaranteed years with the Tigers, so look for that home run total to grow.
Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Nelson Cruz, who currently has 443 career HRs, is the next closest to the 500 mark. Robinson Cano, Giancarlo Stanton, Justin Upton, and Joey Votto are all at least 100 behind him. Mike Trout, Freddie Freeman, and Bryce Harper could also make it there one day.
Mets’ Collapse Continues
The Mets used to sit atop the National League East and have the inside track on the NL East title. At the end of July, they were 55-48 and four games up on the second-place Atlanta Braves. After Sunday’s action, they are 61-63 and seven games behind the division-leading Braves. The Philadelphia Phillies have taken over second place. The Mets have won just six of their 21 games in teh month of August. Atlanta comes into their series with the New York Yankees having won nine straight. The Mets open up a three-game series with the San Francisco Giants having won just two of their last 10 games.
In August, the Mets’ postseason odds have fallen from 56 percent to 1.6 percent, according to SportsLine. Pitching and defense aren’t really to blame. Still, the collapse has been a team effort on offense. Given that the team’s season stats lag those of most contenders, maybe a drop-off was always in the cards. The Mets are hitting .234 on the season and averaging 3.78 runs per game. Both are among the worst in the league. Francisco Lindor, who’s been out for over a month, hasn’t produced at the plate like he did in Cleveland. Michael Conforto and Jeff McNeil’s production hasn’t measured up to that of previous seasons either.
Team owner Steven Cohen showed his understandable frustration last week.
It’s hard to understand how professional hitters can be this unproductive.The best teams have a more disciplined approach.The slugging and OPS numbers don’t lie.
— Steven Cohen (@StevenACohen2) August 18, 2021
After Sunday’s action, the team has a slugging percentage of .379 and an OPS of .691. Both of those numbers remain among the worst in the majors.
To be fair, the Mets are 10 games into a 13-game stretch against either the Giants or Los Angeles Dodgers. The competition will ease some when the Washington Nationals and Miami Marlins come to town. But with a little more than a month left in the regular season, there may not be enough time for a comeback.
Cubs’ Home Losing Streak Grows
While the Mets still have a chance to turn things around, the Cubs, at 22. 5 games back in the NL Central, do not. With nothing to play for, especially after the trade deadline selloff, the home losing streak continues. The Cubs have lost a franchise record 13 consecutive games at Wrigley Field. Sunday’s loss to the Kansas City Royals broke the 12-game home losing streak the team set at the start of the 1994 season.
The Cubs have managed to intersperse some road wins in between all the home losses. That includes a couple in Cincinnati last week. But the losing has been ugly. In fact, Cubs have allowed three times more runs (99) than they’ve scored (33) during those 13 losses.
The Cubs will be back at home Monday night to host the Colorado Rockies.