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Adrian Beltre elected to National Baseball Hall of Fame

(AP photo/Tony Gutierrez)

 

 

Adrian Beltre said that the goal at the start of his MLB career was to be a “decent player.”

Hey, mission accomplished.

In the end, he did much better, and on Tuesday he was welcomed into baseball’s most exclusive club.

Beltre, one of the greatest third basemen in MLB history and one of the greatest Rangers players, is headed to the Hall of Fame.

Beltre received overwhelming support from the Baseball Writers Association of America in his first year of eligibility, appearing on 95.1 percent of the 366 ballots cast.

“It’s amazing to be even just on the ballot. To be able to now call myself a Hall of Famer is something that I dreamed of,” he said. “I never thought about being a Hall of Famer. Now that I’m in, it’s really an honor and I’m humbled to be called that.”

Beltre becomes the 11th member of the organization since it moved to Arlington in 1972 to gain entry to the Hall of Fame. Ted Williams, the Rangers’ manager in their first year in Texas, was inducted in 1966.

Former Twins catcher Joe Mauer and former Rockies first baseman Todd Helton were also elected, and all three will be inducted July 21 in Cooperstown, N.Y. Mauer was also a first-ballot electee.

Jeff Wilson’s Hall of Fame ballot

T.R. Sullivan’s Hall of Fame ballot

Beltre earned the Hall nod on the strength of 3,166 hits, 477 home runs, 636 doubles, 1,707 RBIs and five Gold Gloves in his 21-year career that included stints with the Dodgers (1998-2004), Mariners (2005-2009) and Red Sox (2010) before he signed with the Rangers ahead of the 2011 season and played with them until 2018.

Beltre became a Hall-worthy player in Texas.

He batted .304, 18 points above his career average, and posted an .865 OPS, 46 points higher than his career average, in his eight seasons with the Rangers. Three of his four career All-Star appearances came with the Rangers (2011, 2012, 2014).

He played his best baseball in the second half of his career, changing his perception from being “a contract-year guy,” as he said, to one of the best ever. He said that joining a team that had just been to the World Series took some pressure off of him and allowed him to be himself.

He is one of five players in history to post at least a 5.0 WAR from his age-31 season to his age-37 season, along with Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner and Schmidt.

“There’s a saying in baseball: It doesn’t matter how you start. It’s how you finish. It matches perfectly with Adrian,” former Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus said. “Kudos to him to be able to take care of his body and get better with age through he years.”

Beltre is a member of the Rangers Hall of Fame, and the Rangers retired his number 29 in 2019.

Among MLB third basemen, Beltre has the most RBIs and hits, and his 95.7 WAR ranks third between only Mike Schmidt and Eddie Mathews. Only one player, 16-time Gold Glove winner Brooks Robinson, played more games at third (2,780) than Beltre (2,759).

While being one of the greats at his position is meaningful, Beltre said that he is most proud of his ability to stay on the field as long as he did.

“I learned how to play with injuries and learned how to perform with injuries a little bit,” he said. “I’m proud to have the great teammates I had and to be able to play and have fun. For me, it was easier to compete and perform when you had good players and good teammates and compete for the ultimate goal, which is to win.”

Jeff Wilson, jeff@rangerstoday.com

Jeff Wilson

Sports reporter for two decades. Sports fan for life. Covers the Texas Rangers. Graduate of TCU. Colorado native. Author of Purple Passion: TCU Football Legends (https://t.co/2fmXLyympx). Follow me on Twitter at @JeffWilsonTXR

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