If you had told me the day that Adrian Beltre signed with the Texas Rangers in 2011 that I’d be writing about his possible induction into Cooperstown, the answer would have been completely different. Adrian Beltre had 1,889 hits to go with an abysmal .275 batting average. He had zero All-Star selections, less than 300 homeruns, and only 2 gold gloves.
It’s now 2016, and now Adrian Beltre is one of the greatest Texas Rangers of all-time. He was elected into his 4th All-Star Game in 2014, he has hit for 3 cycles, he’s 55 homeruns shy of the 500 homerun club, as well as only 58 hits away from the 3,000 hit club; both of which are considered locks for Cooperstown. He leads the WAR category for current players and is one of the greatest defensive 3rd basemen of all-time. He’s upped his career average to .286, with no steroid suspicions. He’s 37 years of age, and is still one of the best defensive players in all of baseball. Perhaps no player has ever aged better as he’s gotten older.
Signing at 31, very few noticed that playing in Arlington would prove to be a big part in his then-humorous Hall of Fame case. That humor has turned into near-first ballot guarantee.
While a lot of players slip when they get older (Pujols, Mauer), we’ve seen Beltre progress, as aforementioned. Even at the older age of 37, Beltre’s one of the best defensive third basemen in the world. With 4 Gold Gloves, 4 Fielding Bibles, and 2 Platinum Gloves to his credit, his defensive accomplishments stand out, especially in hitter friendly parks such as Fenway and Arlington. Over the years, we’ve seen plenty of players be inducted based on their defense…Ozzie Smith and Michael Jack Schmidt instantly come to mind. Beltre’s not defensively Michael Jack Schmidt, but he’s the closest comparison to him: crazy defensively, nasty power (with 500 homeruns probable), but a much better contact hitter.
In conclusion, Beltre’s 37 and one of the best players on the planet, while still getting better. He’s not a defensive liability yet. In fact, Beltre’s a gold glove finalist this year, alongside Manny Machado of the Orioles and Kyle Seager of the Mariners.
Hall of Fame?: Yes. The lack of an MVP award may hurt him, but 3,000 hits and/or 500 homeruns work in his favor more than anything else. With Gold Glove Awards and Silver Slugger Awards in the same year, it proves that he was at one point the best third basemen in baseball. His career longevity and rise from mediocrity only strengthens his case, and so does hitting for the cycle a record amount. When he converts to the designated hitter, he will more than likely only put up even bigger numbers. As long as Beltre doesn’t get popped for steroids, he’s a first ballot lock. Up there for most underrated player of all-time, Adrian Beltre has been simply remarkable.
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