Miguel Cabrera is currently sitting at 2,999 career hits. He'll have a shot at 3,000 this afternoon against the New York Yankees. Cabrera told the media that'd he like to get it against the Yankees because when they scouted him in 2003 they told him he could only be a pitcher. Cabrera instead signed with the Florida Marlins, won a World Series, and then moved to Detroit where he got most of those hits.
So we know the Yankees were wrong and Cabrera hasn't forgotten. The question is, what if the Marlins and Tigers also messed up with Cabrera?
Last night Shohei Ohtani struck out 12 batters and gave up just one hit in six innings against the Houston Astros. He also went 2-for-4 at the plate with a double and a walk. Last season he hit 46 home runs and struck out 156 batters in 23 starts.
Is there any reason to believe that Miguel Cabrera couldn't have been capable of something similar? If the Yankees thought he was a major league pitcher and he turned out to be a Hall of Fame hitter, why couldn't both of those things be true?
What if Cabrera could have been a reliable MLB-level arm? What if the Marlins and Tigers missed out on years of effective pitching from a guy who was healthy and sitting in their dugout? Keep in mind that from 2004 to 2016, as Cabrera spent his 20's and early 30's collecting thousands of base hits, he rarely missed time. He played 157 or more games in 10 of 13 seasons. How many games could he have started on the mound in that period?
And how many other guys could have done something like what Ohtani is doing? How many talented pitchers stopped throwing off the mound because they were told to focus on a fielding position so they could hit every day? How many great hitters were told to put down the bat and hone their craft as a pitcher?
Tom Glavine was famously effective at the plate. Carlos Zambrano hit 24 home runs in 12 seasons. Who knows what some pitchers could have done if they'd been allowed to simply be baseball players like they were in high school.
Maybe teams should be more open to the idea. You might land the next Miguel Cabrera, but you might also miss out on the next Shohei Ohtani. And who wouldn't want both?