Miguel Cabrera
JOHN TLUMACKI/GLOBE STAFF/GLOBE STAFF

Miguel Cabrera has had a few rough seasons in a row but looks forward to accomplishing key milestones in 2021 to cement his Hall of Fame resume.

Cabrera, soon to be 38 years old, embarks on his 19th big-league season. He’s healthy. He’s thrilled that new manager AJ Hinch is going to keep him in the mix at first base, even if it’s twice a week. He’s fully embraced being the old soul in the center of the clubhouse.

Looming for Cabrera, of course, is his quest for 3,000 hits and 500 home runs — two hallowed markers of greatness in the game of baseball. He needs 134 hits and 13 home runs to join Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Eddie Murray, Rafael Palmerio, Albert Pujols, and Alex Rodriguez in that exclusive club.

“I hope so. We can do both,” he said with a laugh. “I hope I can get to 500, 3,000 this year. It’s one of my goals this year. Mentally, I feel good. I feel mentally strong. I’m trying to go day by day and trying to play hard.”

It’s been a while since Cabrera resembled the player who was the American League MVP in 2012 and 2013. The last time he was really impressive with the bat was in 2016, when he hit .316 with 38 home runs. From 2017-19, he played just 304 games as an assortment of injuries limited his availability.

In 2012, Cabrera became just the 15th player to win baseball’s Triple Crown, joining an elite list that includes Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, and Lou Gehrig. Cabrera topped the AL with a .330 batting average, 44 homers, and 139 RBIs, becoming the first Triple Crown winner in the major leagues since Boston’s Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.

Miguel Cabrera’s 2014 season included an AL-leading 52 doubles, along with 25 home runs, 109 RBIs and a .313 batting average. He finished ninth in MVP voting.

He made the All-Star Game for seven years in a row, from 2010-16, but has struggled with injuries since 2017. His batting averages in the last four seasons resemble the physical roadblocks: .249 in 2017, .299 in 2018, .282 in 2019, and .250 in 2020.

Miguel Cabrera said he’s talked to both Pujols and Nelson Cruz for tips on maintaining productivity late in their careers. Cruz was an All-Star at age 37 and hit 41 homers with 108 RBIs at age 38. Pujols hit 23 homers with 101 RBIs at 37, 19 homers, and 64 RBIs at age 38.

Cabrera hasn’t been an All-Star since 2016, but when his career is over, he’ll be remembered for his enthusiasm and playful personality in addition to his hitting prowess. And reaching these two milestones should cement him in Cooperstown.

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