Adrian Beltre is a future Hall of Famer who does not get the credit or recognition that he deserves.
Discussions of the best hitters of the past two decades often see Beltre left out of the picture. Someone who is good, but, not good enough to be mentioned with other elite hitters of the 21st century.
Since debuting for the Los Angeles Dodgers at the ripe age of 19 in 1998, Beltre has been one of the best players in all of baseball.
He has racked up 2,767 career hits, well on his way to becoming a member of the 3,000 hit club. The only two players to join the 3,000 hit club that have not been elected to the Hall of Fame are Pete Rose and Rafael Palmeiro. Both of whom have been kept out of the Hall because of their own poor decisions, not because of their on-field credentials.
To go along with the possibility of 3,000 hits, he is also likely to top 500 career home runs. He needs only 32 more big fly’s to reach the 500 plateau. The only players to hit 500 HR’s not currently in the Hall of Fame are either accused/confirmed steroid users or not yet eligible for induction.
The only HOF eligible player to have both 3,000 hits and 500 HR’s that has not been inducted is the aforementioned Palmeiro.
Beltre is the best 3rd baseman of his era not named Chipper Jones or Alex Rodriguez. Rodriguez’ career will always be looked upon with a dark shadow due to steroid use. Meanwhile Beltre has already surpassed Jones career hit total.
When discussing a player who debuted in 1998, and led the league in HR’s in 2004, it is impossible to not bring up the steroid discussion. Despite playing right in the middle of the steroid era, Beltre maintains a squeaky clean reputation.
The only claims against Beltre in the steroid department are a few naysayers that believe he had to have been using to hit 48 home runs in 2004. This anomaly of a season in the power department can be more reasonably attributed to a HR/FB ratio of 23.3%, which is much higher than his career total of 13.4%.
His clean name makes him an even stronger candidate for the HOF. In an era where steroid allegations ran rampant, it appears as though Beltre was one of the good guys who stayed clean.
Beltre also plays the game with a smile on his face and a child-like enthusiasm. This certainly does not make his case for the HOF stronger, it just makes him more fun to watch.
Whether it be arguing with Elvis Andrus about who catches a pop up, playfully calling for time out at 3rd base, or getting agitated when someone touches his bald head, Beltre’s love of the game is contagious.
Despite his impressive resume, Beltre has always seemed to fly under the radar. He has only been an All-Star 4 times in his 18 year Major League Career. He has also won 4 Gold Gloves.
When talking about the great hitters of his era, Beltre’s name is unfairly left out. He is treated as an afterthought, someone who is pretty good, but, not elite.
This is far from the truth. Beltre’s longevity, consistency, and talent put him in an elite class in Major League history.
An elite enough class that Beltre will rightfully have a plague in Cooperstown someday. Finally putting him in the discussion he belongs to be in.