Adrian Beltre cinches place in Cooperstown with 3000th hit
On the day of the 2017 Hall of Fame inductions, how fitting it was that Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre smacked a double for his 3000th career hit? He joined an elite group of 30 other major-league players to have accomplished this milestone, and almost assuredly has earned himself a bronze plaque in the hallowed Hall.
Aside from the career hits milestone, Beltre will get strong consideration for the Hall by baseball writers when he becomes eligible for induction, since one of the key advanced baseball metrics, Wins Above Replacement (WAR), ranks Beltre as the fourth-best third baseman of all time behind only Alex Rodriguez, Mike Schmidt and Ed Mathews.
Yet Beltre is not nearly as well-known as these guys and other legendary third-sackers like Brooks Robinson, George Brett, and Wade Boggs. Beltre has quietly gone about his business for the past twenty seasons in both the offensive and defensive aspects of the game.
At age 38, Beltre has shown little evidence of slowing down. In fact, he has been more productive in the second half of his major-league career (age 29-38) than the first half (age 19-28), as his slash line (Batting Average/On-Base Percentage/Slugging Percentage) has improved in all three metrics –.301/.351/.501 versus .271/.327/.459, respectively.
Beltre is 46 home runs shy of another major hitting milestone, 500 career home runs. If he does reach it (likely within two years), he will become one of only six players to attain both the 500-home run and 3000-hit marks, joining Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Alex Rodriguez, Eddie Murray and Rafael Palmeiro.
Beltre already ranks 35th all-time in Runs Batted In, with 1607, ahead of Hall of Famers like Schmidt, Brett, Harmon Killebrew, and Willie McCovey. As for his defense, he’s already ranked 13th all-time in Defensive WAR.
If there’s a knock against Beltre’s career, it’s that he and his teams haven’t had significant success in post-season play. He helped the Rangers to a World Series in 2011, barely losing to the Cardinals, while three other playoff appearances with the Rangers weren’t fruitful at all. That situation probably contributes to his relative anonymity among fans on a national basis more than any other factor.
Looking down the road to 2023 or 2024, when Beltre first appears on the Hall of Fame ballot, look for him to take rightful place among the all-greats of the game.
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New Orleans baseball historian
Richard Cuicchi, Founder of the Metro New Orleans Area Baseball Player Database and a New Orleans area baseball historian, maintains TheTenthInning.com website. He also authored the book, Family Ties: A Comprehensive Collection of Facts and Trivia About Baseball’s Relatives. He has contributed to numerous SABR-sponsored Bio Project and Games Project books.