Adrián Beltré

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Adrián Beltré Pérez

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Biographical Information[edit]

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Adrián Beltré is one of only four men (John Reilly, Bob Meusel and Babe Herman are the others) to hit for the cycle on three occasions. He led the major leagues with 48 home runs in 2004, tying the single season record for a third baseman held by Mike Schmidt (which was bested by Alex Rodriguez in 2007). In 2017, he became the 31st member of the 3,000 hit club and the first member to hail from the Dominican Republic. As of 2019, he remains the all-time leader for third basemen in games played, runs batted in and runs scored. He was a five-time Gold Glove winner as well as a four-time All-Star and four-time Silver Slugger winner.

Beltré was underage when signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1994, having not yet turned 16. When this was discovered a few years later by his agent, Scott Boras, the Dodgers were fined a large amount but allowed to keep Beltré (in other cases, the player had been made a free agent). By then, Beltré was one of the top young prospects in the game, and he would have attracted huge offers as a free agent; it was seen as unfair to have him receive a financial windfall from a situation he was complicit in creating. He reached the major leagues quickly, in June of 1998, less than two months after turning 19; when he hit his first major league homer on September 25th, he was 19 years, 171 days old. No player younger than Beltré has homered in the majors since that time, with Bryce Harper coming closest in 2012. After hitting .290 with 20 homers as a 21-year-old in 2000, he appeared to have unlimited potential. He underwent an emergency appendectomy in the spring of 2001, an operation that was botched, and while he got back to the playing field relatively fast - he played 126 games that season - it took him a while to get back to full strength. He batted .265 with an average of 18 home runs from 1999 to 2003 when he suddenly had his breakthrough season in 2004, which he capped by being named the National League's Player of the Month in September. Beltré batted .334/.388/.629 with 48 homers, 121 RBI, 104 runs scored, 200 hits and a career best 163 OPS+. Following the season, he was signed by the Seattle Mariners as a free agent on December 17th, agreeing to a five-year, $64 million pact.

Though Beltre's numbers did not return to the lofty heights set in 2004, he still put together several solid seasons with the M's in terms of bWAR, thanks in large part to his gifts with the glove. On July 23, 2006, he became the first man to hit an inside the park home run at Safeco Field, an 8th inning shot off Mike Timlin of the Boston Red Sox in a 9-8 victory. On September 1, 2008, Adrian, along with Stephen Drew of the Arizona Diamondbacks, hit for the cycle, the first time since 1920 and only the second time in major league history that two players hit for the cycle on the same day. The duo that accomplished this feat the previous time was Bobby Veach and George Burns. Overall, his stay with the Mariners was a disappointment. Playing in Safeco Field depressed his offensive numbers, and he never hit more than 26 homers with the M's, who were never in serious contention during his time there. In 2009, his power appeared to fade completely, as he hit only 8 home runs in 111 games. That August, he took a hard ground ball to the groin and suffered bleeding in his testicles, as he was notorious for not wearing a cup while playing. When he returned from the disabled list, teammate and Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. had the Safeco PA team play "The Nutcracker Suite" as his at bat music.

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A free agent after his disappointing 2009, he could not find a team willing to offer a long-term deal, and settled on a one-year, $9 million pact with the Boston Red Sox. This began the resurgence of his career. He was named BoSox Most Valuable Player in 2010, hitting .321 with 28 homers and 102 RBI and leading the bigs in doubles with 49. He was named to the All-Star team for the first time that season and finished in the top five in the AL in batting average, slugging percentage and total bases. Now able to cash in, Beltré signed with the Texas Rangers in 2011, agreeing to a five year deal worth $80 million. Even though he was joining the defending American League pennant winners, and playing alongside the reigning MVP in Josh Hamilton, he was installed in the cleanup spot with Texas. He took well to the hitter-friendly confines of the Ballpark in Arlington, installing himself among the league's RBI leaders over the first half and reaching the 20-home run mark before the end of July while returning to the All-Star Game. He suffered a pulled hamstring on July 22nd and had to be placed on the disabled list. When he came back, he quietly had an outstanding final month, earning AL Player of the Month honors for September. He hit 12 homers and had 29 RBI while hitting .374 and slugging .778 as the Rangers pulled away from the Los Angeles Angels to finish first in the AL West. He had a 19-game hitting streak in late August and early September to help finish the year batting .296 with 33 doubles, 32 homers and 105 RBI in 124 games. He hit three homers in Game 4 of the ALDS against the Tampa Bay Rays and was the first player with a three-homer game in the postseason since Adam Kennedy for the Anaheim Angels in 2002.

Beltré had another strong season in 2012, reaching 20 homers for the 10th time with a three-homer game against the Baltimore Orioles on August 22nd. He hit a solo shot off Tommy Hunter in the 1st, repeated off Hunter with a two-run shot in the 4th, and added another two-run shot off Kevin Gregg later in the same inning as the Rangers won the game, 12-3. Two days later, he hit for the cycle for the second time in his career as the Rangers beat the Minnesota Twins, 8-0. He needed to hit his first triple in two years (off Samuel Deduno in the 1st inning) in order to accomplish the feat. He was the second player in major league history to have both a cycle and three-homer game in the same week, after Joe DiMaggio. He was named the American League Player of the Week and, in his next game, went 3 for 3 with a homer and 4 RBI to lead the Rangers to a 6-5 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on August 27th. He hit one spot behind Josh Hamilton the day Hamilton hit four homers in a game, 10 years after hitting one spot ahead of Shawn Green when Green performed the feat. Beltré finished the season by being named the American League's Player of the Month for September, when he hit .337 with 11 homers, 19 RBI and as many runs scored and finished the year with a batting line of .321/.359/.561 in 156 games, with 36 homers and 102 RBI. He went 0 for 4 in the Wild Card Game against the Baltimore Orioles as the Rangers' season ended with a whimper.

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Beltré did not make the All-Star team in 2013, but it was more a function of increased competition among his peers at the hot corner than of any drop in production on his part. He had a great month of July, picking up the AL Player of the Month Award, when he hit .369 with 9 homers and 19 RBI in 26 games, the fourth time he picked up that honor. He finished the year with a batting line of .315/.371/.509 and an OPS+ of 137. His 199 hits led the AL and he had 32 doubles and 30 homers. While he had been largely under the radar for his first decade in the big leagues, reporters in the offseason were starting to point out that Beltré was quietly putting together a Hall of Fame career, with 500 homers and 3,000 hits both well within reach given he was only 35. Many were also placing him among their preseason favorites for the MVP Award in 2014, reasoning that the presence of newly-acquired Shin-Soo Choo at the top of the lineup would give him an opportunity to drive in many more runs. Those projections faced a hiccup when he went on the disabled list on April 9th, victim of a strained quadriceps; he was hitting .286 with no homers and 4 RBI after 8 games. He was back in the lineup on April 25th, and on May 7th hit his 100th homer as a member of the Rangers. Beltré became the fifth player to hit 100 or more homers with three different teams, having previously done so with Los Angeles and Seattle; the four who preceded him were Darrell Evans, Reggie Jackson, Alex Rodriguez and Jim Thome. He had another very good season, hitting .324 in 148 games, with 33 doubles, 19 homers, 79 runs scored and 77 RBI even though the Rangers struggled to a last-place finish.

On May 15, 2015, Adrián hit his 400th career homer in a game against the Cleveland Indians. He was fourth among active players in home runs, after Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols and David Ortiz. The following day, Miguel Cabrera also joined the 400 home run club. On June 1st, he was placed on the disabled list with a sprained left thumb, opening the door for Rangers top prospect Joey Gallo to make his major league debut as his replacement in the lineup. He returned to action on June 23rd and on August 3rd, he hit for the cycle for the third time of his career in a 12-9 win over the Houston Astros. Adrián hit a two-run triple in the 1st, then doubled in the 2nd and singled in the 3rd before hitting his 9th homer of the year in the 5th to complete the feat early. He also became the first player in Rangers history to have two cycles for the team. During the season, he became the all-time leader in games played among players born in the Dominican Republic. He finished the season with a .287 average, 18 homers and 83 RBI in 143 games, then went 4 for 9 in three games during the Division Series, missing a couple of games because of an injury. On July 25, 2016, Beltré had a four-hit game for the Rangers against the Oakland A's, two of the hits being homers. The last of these was of the walk-off variety, coming off Ryan Madson with a man on and two outs in the 9th to give Texas a come-from-behind 7-6 win. Adrián put together another very good season, hitting .300 in 153 games, with 31 doubles and 32 homers, 89 runs and 104 RBI. The Rangers won a division title for the second straight year, but were also booted out of the postseason by the Blue Jays in the Division Series for the second straight year. Beltré went 2 for 11 with a double in the three-game sweep.

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He missed almost the full first two months of the 2017 season because of a calf injury, only making his debut on May 29th. Top prospect Joey Gallo had filled in for him, and while he had shown good home run power, his defense was nowhere near as good as Adrián's and he had difficulty making contact on a consistent basis, so the Rangers were glad to have the veteran back. On June 27th, he hit home run #450 of his career against Cody Allen of the Cleveland Indians in the 9th inning to give Texas a 2-1 win on the road. On July 26th, while he was closing in on 3,000 hits, he was involved in a bizarre incident in a lop-sided, 22-10 loss to the Miami Marlins. In the 8th inning, he was ejected by umpire Gerry Davis for tampering with the on-deck circle, moving the plastic mat that marks the spot closer to the plate. He reached the milestone hit on July 30th with a double off Wade Miley of the Baltimore Orioles, becoming the 31st member of the exclusive club. On August 31st, he suffered a severe hamstring strain and was expected to miss the remainder of the season, but he was back with a pinch-hitting appearance on September 13th and started at DH for the Rangers the next day. He finished the year at .312 in 94 games, with 17 homers and 71 RBI. His OPS+ of 135 showed that, apart from the various injuries, he was apparently impervious to the aging process affecting most mortals.

On April 3, 2018, he collected hit number 3,053 of his career. What was significant about this was that it put him in a tie with Hall of Famer Rod Carew for most hits by a player born in Latin America. He became the all-time leader with another hit the next day. On April 24th, he pulled a hamstring after getting a hit in the 8th inning. He had to leave the game and was placed on the disabled list, adding to a growing list of injuries suffered by key players on the team. He played 119 games in what turned out to be his final season, hitting .273 with 15 homers and 65 RBI. On November 20th, he issued a communiqué announcing his retirement after 21 seasons as a major league player. His lifetime totals include 1,923 games played, 3,166 hits, 477 homers, 1,524 runs scored and 1,707 RBI. His uniform number 29 was retired by the Rangers in a ceremony on June 8, 2019. On August 14th, his career hit total was passed by Albert Pujols, who became the career leader among Dominicans and among all players born outside the U.S. Adrián was the last player to have made his debut in the 20th century to be still active, as his final appearance beat out his teammate Bartolo Colon by ten days.

During his career, Beltré was known for having some strange quirks. In addition to his obsession about being as close to the batter as possible when in the on-deck circle, he had a phobia about someone else touching his head and reacted strongly whenever someone came close to doing so. His teammates sometimes riled him good-naturedly because of this strange compulsion. He also had a huge aversion to Gatorade showers.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 1997 MVP Florida State League Vero Beach Dodgers
  • 4-time AL All-Star (2010-2012 & 2014)
  • 5-time AL Gold Glove Winner (2007, 2008, 2011, 2012 & 2016)
  • 4-time Silver Slugger Award Winner (2004/NL, 2010/AL, 2011/AL & 2014/AL)
  • AL Doubles Leader (2010)
  • NL Home Runs Leader (2004)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 12 (2000, 2002-2004, 2006-2008, 2010-2013 & 2016)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 5 (2004, 2011-2013 & 2016)
  • 40-Home Run Seasons: 1 (2004)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 5 (2004, 2010-2012 & 2016)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 1 (2004)
  • 200 Hits Seasons: 1 (2004)

Records Held[edit]

  • Most times hitting for the cycle, career, 3 (tied)

Further Reading[edit]

  • David Adler and Daniel Kramer: "Top 10 moments of Beltre's career: 3,000 hits, one-knee World Series homer highlight icon's 21 seasons", mlb.com, November 20, 2018. [1]
  • Scott Boeck: "Adrian Beltre, now alone atop Latin American hit list, makes 21st season a historic one", USA Today Sports, April 5, 2018. [2]
  • Sam Butler: "Beltre vaults into history books with hit No. 3K", mlb.com, July 30, 2017. [3]
  • Richard Justice: "Beltre crafting rock-solid Hall resume: Rangers veteran posting numbers reminiscent of all-time great third basemen", mlb.com, August 4, 2015. [4]
  • Bob Nightengale: "Adrian Beltre is bound for Hall of Fame, even if some won't accept his PED-free receipts", USA Today Sports, August 3, 2017. [5]
  • T.R. Sullivan: "Beltre steps away after legendary career: Likely Hall of Famer among greatest to play 3B in MLB history", mlb.com, November 20, 2018. [6]
  • Mark Whicker: "Adrian Beltre: Case for the Hall of Fame", USA Today Sports' August 6, 2015. [7]

Related Sites[edit]