Texas Rangers star third baseman Adrián Beltré may have just punched his ticket to Cooperstown. The 38-year-old already had a compelling case for that honor, but added a significant milestone to his resume Sunday. In the fourth against the Baltimore Orioles, Beltré collected his 3,000th career hit.
The achievement came on a 3-0 pitch from Wade Miley. Beltré was given the green light, and smacked a hard grounder out to left field for a double. It was his only hit of the day, as the Rangers lost to the Orioles 10-6.
It’s fitting that Beltré reached the milestone on the day of the 2017 Hall of Fame inductions. The hit virtually guarantees he will one day be enshrined in Cooperstown.
All but one eligible player with 3,000 career hits has been elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame: Rafael Palmeiro. His case was sunk by a positive drug test. Beltré’ won’t be dragged down by those concerns. Pete Rose is banned from the Hall of Fame, and not considered eligible.
The accomplishment helps lift Beltré’s offensive profile. He’s hit .286/.339/.481, with 454 home runs, over 20 seasons in the big leagues. His 116 wRC+, an advanced stat that measures offensive performance, suggests he’s been 16 percent better than the league-average hitter over his career.
Combine that with his exceptional defense and Beltré’s case for Cooperstown is clear. By Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR), Beltré is far and away the best defensive player in baseball since his debut. While defensive metrics aren’t always dependable, he passes the eye test. Beltré has won five Gold Glove awards, and is constantly praised by scouts for his defensive prowess.
Milestones and round numbers still matter in the voting process. For some, Beltré’s 3,000th hit will be the moment he put the finishing touches on his Hall of Fame case. An offensive milestone may push the best defensive player of his era to Cooperstown. That seems backwards, but it’s not going to matter if that’s what it takes to get Beltré the recognition he deserves.
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