3. Miguel Cabrera (373 appearances)
Without a doubt a first-ballot Hall of Famer, Cabrera started his professional carer after signing with the Florida Marlins in 1999. Only 17-years-old at the time, it took a $1.9 million bonus to get Miggy on the dotted line.
Born on April 18th, 1983, Cabrera is a native of Maracay, Venezuela. He made relatively quick work of the Florida Marlins minor league feeder affiliate system, graduating to the majors in 2003 while still just 20. He appeared in 87 games as a rookie, and hit .268 with 12 dingers and 62 RBI. His .793 OPS was his lowest figure, by far, until 2017. Although mostly a left-fielder at that time, Cabrera also started 30 games at third base, and fielded at a solid .986 clip. In the NLCS, Cabrera was 10-for-30 with three homers, and eventually helped the Marlins to their second World Series Championship.
2004 would see Cabrera blossom into a well-above-average major leaguer. He slashed a .294/.366/.512 line with 33 homers and 112 RBI, although he did not appear at third base at all. For his efforts, he earned his first all-star nod.
In 2005, Cabrera kept his prodigious power stroke while boosting his average 30 points. He slashed .323/.385/.561 with 33 round-trippers and 116 RBI. Again mostly a left-fielder, he also made 28 starts at third base, fielding at .971 and again making the all star team while earning his first Silver Slugger award. His 5.2 WAR was the ninth-best in the major leagues.
Cabrera took over third base completely in 2006, starting 157 games at the hot corner and fielding at .957 over 1334 innings of work. He made his third all-star team and got his second Silver Slugger, while finishing fifth in the National League MVP vote for the second year in a row. No slouch with the bat, Cabrera raked to a .339/.430/.568 clip with 26 home runs and 114 RBI. He finished the year with a 5.8 WAR, good enough for eighth in the majors.
It was more of the same in what would be Cabrera’s final season with the Florida Marlins, in 2007. Thirty-four home runs, 119 RBI, a .320/.401/.565 slashline, and another all-star invitation. Cabrera played 152 games at third base that year, including 134 starts and finishing with a .941 fielding percentage.
Of course, the rest is history that we’re all familiar with. After the 2007 season, Cabrera was sent with Dontrelle Willis to the Detroit Tigers for Dallas Trahern, Andrew Miller, Mike Rabelo, Burke Badenhop, Cameron Maybin, and Frankie de la Cruz. He’s since gotten into six more all-star games and was named the American League MVP in 2012 and in 2013. With 2,791 career hits under his belt, Cabrera is a good bet to join the 3,000 club, and has five years remaining on his current contract.