Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? Adrian Beltre

Claim to fame: Beltre just finished the second-best season of his 13-year career, batting .321 with 28 home runs and 108 RBI for the Red Sox. Now, it looks like, similar to his 2004 career year when he hit .334 with 48 home runs and 121 RBI for the Dodgers and thereupon signed a lucrative deal with the Mariners, Beltre will cash in. ESPN reported Monday evening that the unrestricted free agent was on the verge of signing a six-year, $90 million contract with the Rangers. If this goes through, his Hall of Fame case could get a lot more interesting.

Current Hall of Fame eligibility: Beltre is an active player and cannot be considered for enshrinement until five years after he retires.

Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? I know, this might sound crazy. Right now, Beltre is a lifetime .275 hitter with a career OPS+ of 108 and just one All Star appearance (though his 10.2 career defensive WAR suggests he may have deserved more than two Gold Gloves.) Until this time, Beltre has been mostly known as a maddeningly talented third baseman with a penchant for putting up MVP-caliber numbers in contract years and hitting about .270 in between.

Here’s where I see Beltre having a shot at Cooperstown: As of now, he’s played home games 12 of his 13 seasons at Dodger Stadium and Safeco Field, two pitchers’ parks if there ever were them. The Rangers Ballpark in Arlington is not this way. It is the Horse Whisperer for troubled hitters. It made a superstar out of Josh Hamilton. It made Milton Bradley look, well, normal. We just saw what Beltre was capable of playing one year at Fenway. Imagine what he could do the next five or ten years batting next to Hamilton.

Already, Beltre has looked like someone who was going to present a statistical dilemma for voters. Having debuted in the majors at 19, he’ll turn 32 at the beginning of this season, and barring injury, Beltre should have a chance at two stats that typically ensure enshrinement: 3,000 hits (he’s at 1,889 right now) and 500 home runs. The latter feat would be trickier, since Beltre currently has 278 home runs and would need to up his yearly averages by five or ten homers. Still, with Texas, this might happen. Regardless, there’s never been an eligible player with 3,000 hits who didn’t ultimately get into Cooperstown.

(Side note: Beltre’s page on Baseball-Reference.com says he’s most similar, by age, to Ron Santo who recently finished tied for second in this Web site’s poll of the 50 greatest players not in Cooperstown. Just think if Santo had gotten a chance at 32 to play out his career in Texas during an era that favored hitters. No way he’d still be on the fence for the Hall of Fame.)

Of course, if Beltre played his full career in Los Angeles and Seattle, I don’t know if he’d have any real hopes for Cooperstown. I wonder if voters will look askance at Ranger hitters as a latter generation of voters did with great sluggers from the 1930s, keeping Chuck Klein and Johnny Mize from their plaques for decades. Generally, though, it’s numbers that ultimately talk and trump context. Even if Beltre brings the same abilities to the Rangers he’s had for the last 13 years, and his stats are the only thing that change, that may be enough for enshrinement. Is that right? I dunno.

Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? is a Tuesday feature here.

Others in this series: Al OliverAlbert BelleBert Blyleven, Billy Martin, Cecil TravisChipper JonesDan QuisenberryDave ParkerDon Mattingly, Don NewcombeGeorge Steinbrenner, George Van Haltren, Jack MorrisJoe CarterJohn Smoltz, Juan Gonzalez, Keith HernandezLarry WalkerMaury WillsMel HarderPete Browning, Phil Cavarretta, Rafael Palmeiro, Roberto Alomar, Rocky Colavito, Ron Guidry, Steve Garvey, Ted Simmons, Thurman MunsonTim Raines, Will Clark

0 thoughts on “Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? Adrian Beltre”

  1. Actually if you look at baseball references list of similar players through 31, along with Santo is Cal Ripken, Carl Yastrzemski and Brooks Robinson. Interesting

  2. Ripken and Yaz got in as much for consistency as anything else. For peak greatness, they’re far from the best in Cooperstown.

    The difference between Santo and Ripken, Yaz, and Robinson is that Santo was done in baseball several years sooner. His career was much shorter.

  3. Forget about the HOF; he doesn’t even come close.

    You talk as if Beltre had many more years of playing time left. That’s because you’re used to the Steroids Era, in which guys routinely looked like Superman at 40. Without juice, guys look like mere mortals at 35.

    Speaking of which, are you sure this guy didn’t get some help from his little friend in those two walk years? There’s still no test for HGH, and my understandign is that some forms of (BALCO-style) steroids are still test-proof.

  4. It is interesting to see how prescient this article appears three years later. I believe Beltre is a lead pipe cinch for the Hall of Fame. He will have 3000 hits and 450-500 home runs when he retires. Given the dearth of third basemen in Cooperstown, I think he will quickly be elected, especially since the new rules will eliminate much of the “backlog.”

  5. He is probably a first ballot hall of famer.

    Barring injury – Beltre will get past 1500 RBI’s this season. He will get past 3000 hits, 600 2B, and 1500 runs next year. He is less than 5.0 WAR away from George Brett, with a decent year he can pass him this season and become the 4th highest ranked 3rd Baseman all-time. He is only 7.3 behind Wade Boggs and 12.6 behind Eddie Mathews for #2.

    A career dWAR rating of 25.5 is ranked #14 all-time. He has the second highest rating for third baseman behind Brooks Robinson’s 38.8. It should be noted that Robinson played 23 years to Beltre’s 18. If Beltre averages his usual 2.3 dWAR for the next two seasons he will end up with 30.1, which would put him 8th all-time.

    2483 games played at 3rd base is second all-time to Brooks Robinson’s 2870. Adrian needs 388 to become the all time leader. If Beltre can play two more years as a starter he should achieve this in 2018 or 2019.

    2767 hits ranks him #53 all-time. Sometime during the 2017 season he should get past 3000 and end up being in the top 25. If he plays though the 2019 season, 3200 hits is not out of the question, which would put him in the top 15.

    4636 total bases ranks him #39 all-time. A few more years should land Beltre in the top 15 with over 5200.

    560 2B hits ranks him #26 all time. In a few more years Beltre should easily pass 600 and end up in the top ten, if not in the top 5.

    His 413 HR ranks #50 all-time. He should easily get to 450 and end up in the top 38.

    His 1467 RBI ranks #57 all-time. In a few more years he should get past 1600 and end up in the top 35.

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