LOS ANGELES, July 8, 2013 — If Adrian Beltre retired after this season, he might be a Hall of Famer. If he plays for another 4 years and retired at the age of 38, he just might be a first or second ballot Hall of Famer.
Adrian Beltre was signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers when he was 15 years old, which is against the rules. As a result, the Dodgers were unable to scout in the Dominican Republic for a year. Beltre made his major league debut with the Dodgers in 1998 at the age of 19.
While in Los Angeles, Beltre never hit more than 23 home runs until he reached his contract year in 2004. That year he broke out and smashed 48 home runs and drove in 121 runs with a .334 average, all still career highs. Beltre finished second to Barry Bonds in the vote for National League Most Valuable Player award that year.
Adrian Beltre ended up taking his talents to Seattle as a free agent, where he clubbed 95 home runs over the next four years. Half of those games were played in the very home run stingy Safeco Field. In 2008, Beltre became the fourth Mariner to hit for the cycle.
In 2009, his fifth and final year in Seattle, he missed a month and a half with injuries, including two weeks for a bleeding testicle from a ball that hit him where his cup should have been.
The Boston Red Sox signed Beltre to a one year deal at the age of 31. He batted .321 with 28 homeruns and 102 RBIs. The following year, the Texas Rangers gave Beltre a five-year contract worth $80 million.
In his first two years with Texas, Adrian Beltre crushed 32 and 36 home runs, respectively, while batting .296 his first year and .321 in 2012. He finished third in MVP voting last year, behind winner Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout.
So far this year, Beltre is batting .308 with 18 home runs.
In total, Adrian Beltre has a career .281 average with 364 home runs, 1262 RBIs and 2,334 hits. If he can stay healthy and somewhat productive, 3,000 hits and 400 home runs are not out of the question for the 34-year old. Even 500 home runs remains a distant possibility.
His career numbers at this point compare closely to, but are better across the board than the career numbers of Hall of Famer Ron Santo, who was inducted to the Hall in 2012. Beltre has also played one more year than Santo and will play, at least, until his contract is up in 2016.
Using Jay Jaffe’s JAWS system to compare current players to already enshrined Hall of Famers, Adrian Beltre ranks 10th among all third basemen.
Adrian Beltre has three Silver Slugger awards to go along with four Gold Glove awards. He has a career fielding percentage of 0.958. Beltre has surprisingly only been selected as an All-Star three times in his 16-year career.
Assuming the cloud of steroids is lifted and voters have figured out a way to justly include players from the steroid era in the Hall of Fame, Adrian Beltre should be inducted after he retires. The questions should be more of a “when”, not an “if”. Which hat should he where into the Hall? Finally, will he give his speech from one knee?
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