I knew it was coming soon. Back in the spring, I wrote glowingly about how Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre and, sure enough, . It's a bit bittersweet as a person who went from indifference to claiming Beltre as one of my favorite players. I'm sad to see him go, but I also appreciate the career we all just witnessed and that Beltre earned the right to go out on his own terms.to watch
What a career it was. The numbers paint the picture of an obvious Hall of Famer.
Beltre finishes with 3,166 hits (16th all-time), 636 doubles (11th), 477 home runs (30th), 1,707 RBI (24th), 1,524 runs (64th) and a slash of .286/.339/.480 (116 OPS+). The four-time All-Star has four Silver Sluggers, five Gold Gloves and two Platinum Gloves. A true two-way star, Beltre ranks 10th all-time in defensive WAR, trailing only Brooks Robinson among third basemen.
The only dissent I could see is Beltre not winning an MVP (topped out at second in 2004, also finished third once and seventh three times) or a World Series ring, but these things have never been a requirement and lots of Hall of Famers did neither.
Beltre finishes third in career WAR among third basemen, behind only Mike Schmidt and Eddie Mathews. The JAWS system has Beltre fourth, with Wade Boggs jumping over him. By these measures, Beltre outranks the likes of George Brett, Chipper Jones, Ron Santo and Brooks Robinson -- yeah, what a career.
The thing with Beltre and why he's one of my favorite players is it was so much more than the numbers. There was his quirky phobia of his head being touched, in full on display in my favorite YouTube video:
How about when Beltre dragged the on-deck circle back behind home plate because he wanted a better look at the pitches?
Best ejection ever.
Even just little things, like him forgetting early in 2015 that he wasn't supposed to get all the way out of the batter's box and then leaping back in and apologizing to the umpire:
He also played through injuries (mostly hamstring injuries) often in his last few years. There are memories of him hobbling around the bases or even driving home a run without being able to bend his back in the playoffs.
Something that probably gets overlooked is the respect Beltre had from his peers. Go back and watch the famous (notorious?) Rougned Odor slug of Jose Bautista and focus on Beltre having a hold of Bautista through the first few minutes:
There was bad blood on the Rangers' end toward Bautista going back to the, but no one went back after him once Beltre's arms were wrapped around him and Bautista really didn't fight hard to get away. Beltre was keeping as much peace as he could and not one person even tried to stop him.
Twenty-one years, 2,933 regular-season games, 28 playoff games, an easy Hall of Fame stat line, a Hall of Fame personality and the utmost respect from his peers.
From the baseball-loving world: Thank you, Adrian. Thank you so much for letting us enjoy your career. It was a pleasure.