Miguel Cabrera reached 3,000 hits in April at age 39. He was the 7th ever to do so while also having 500 home runs. The right-handed slugger that defined this generation won the Triple Crown in 2012, the AL MVP in 2012 and 2013, is an 11-time All-Star, a 4-time AL Batting Champion, and 7-time Silver Slugger Award-winner. With every opposite-field display of power, every hit that went further than you thought it would, every unassuming and calm grin after getting a clutch hit in a high-stress situation, Miggy has cemented his legacy as one of the greatest right-handed hitters to ever play the game.

Perhaps what made Cabrera so cool, calm, and collected, with an eye for taking time at the plate to examine and turn a pitch into a hit, was that after year one, he had already created a legacy. The Florida Marlins called him up at just age 20 in 2003. He won Rookie of the Year when he batted .268 with 12 home runs and 62 RBI in just 87 games and helped lead them to a World Series over the Yankees in his first year in the majors.

In a game with so much romantic talk surrounding legacy, Miguel had already created his forever before he could even legally buy a drink in the United States. He was already a legend playing with joyous house money and nothing to lose going forward. When the “greatness monkey” of winning is already off your back at age 20,

Photo: Carlos Osorio / AP

you have time to have as much fun as he had. You have time to be one of the easy-going, lighthearted faces of the game that just enjoys the 162 game season. You have time to be as cool, calm, and collected as he was at the plate. It elevated not only his enjoyment of the sport, making him one of the most fun-loving, eye-catching faces of the league, but it in all-likelihood helped him achieve the longevity of his greatness.

Now, in 2022, a lefty has the chance to replicate that same fun-loving, easy-breezy mindset on the way to breaking the record books: 23 year-old Juan Soto of the Washington Nationals.

Called up at age 19 in 2018, Soto has already won a World Series in his second season, winning the Babe Ruth Award with Stephen Strasburg during that postseason run as he batted .277 with 5 homers and 14. He was the 2020 NL Batting Champion, and was runner-up in the MVP voting last year.

He gets into the batter’s box calm as ever, leading the league in walks by a hefty margin, motioning into his patented “Soto Shuffle” move to make himself more comfortable inside before he finds a way to get on base and only swing at pitches that he LOVES, in a similar way to Ted Williams. He has one of the highest IQ’s of any baseball player in the game at such an early age that it is revolutionary.

The similarities of Soto and Cabrera are so beautiful to see from a technique standpoint, from a demeanor standpoint, and from a career arc trajectory standpoint all at once.

They both have the early career success of becoming postseason legends before they even were allowed to legally buy a drink in America. A World Series ring that early gives you calm nerves for the rest of your tenure in baseball, that’s for sure. No talking head is ever going to question if Soto or Cabrera could carry a team in clutch moments or build a franchise around them; they’ll forever have the rings and will be legends on their paths to the Hall of Fame. Cabrera reached his glory in Florida before getting dealt to Detroit and signing a massive deal to stay a Tiger. The Nationals are in a similar position with young Soto- they won their ring early on, but it’s hard to tell if he’ll remain in DC his whole career after he reportedly turned down an extension offer this offseason. The Nats are far from what they used to be and have torn down pretty much that entire roster outside of him, so it remains to be seen if he wants to stay there and build for the long-term in one location. He’s already given them everything with their first title, so he has the leverage and could end up deciding he’d like to be a National for life or play somewhere that would bring him the most personal satisfaction.

It’s this leverage that makes their play style: the ease, the joy, the pure passion and enjoyment of having nothing to lose, so similar and fun to watch. You see the same charismatic grin, the purity and innocence, of Soto taking batting practice as you do now with Cabrera both in his prime and still today at 39 years old, giving advice as a leader in the clubhouse. Soto has Cabrera’s patience at the plate with that leverage. That iconic opposite field power Cabrera had that comes with waiting to see if you like what you see? Soto has that. He led the league in opposite-field home runs last year and is continuing to display that power.

The joy, the patience, and the path that these two have, 16 years apart, is so wonderful to see. History may not repeat itself, but it certainly rhymes. Soto is carving his own legacy, and he’ll have the opportunity to win more than just one ring with the many seasons of greatness he has ahead of him, but having the fantastic life and legacy that Cabrera had certainly wouldn’t be too bad.

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