Adrian Beltre was announced yesterday as the American League Player of the Week for the previous 7-day stretch.
It was pretty well deserved. He hit a lot of home runs. One day, he hit ALL of the hits. By which I mean he hit at least one of the four recognized positive outcomes of contact with a baseball. By which I mean he hit for the cycle, which just seems boring when you put it like that.
It’s all part of what’s been a majestic and wonderful and adjective-filled season for Adrian. He leads the team in Batting Average (well, he leads qualified players in BA, at least). He is second among qualifying Rangers in Slugging Percentage, and second in wOBA by a narrower percentage. He is the team’s leader in fWAR. He’s second in homers, second in RBI. All this while playing defense in a manner that’s most readily described as transcendent.
So, there’s a lot of in-season awards that Adrian Beltre should be thick in the running for, like Player of the Week and Player of the Month and Most Valuable Player (which, no, he should not win, but… did you know he’s 4th in the AL in fWAR? That’s why the phrase ‘in the discussion’ exists. He should get votes for MVP, and he should place around the top 5-7, which is a pretty massive accomplishment for a baseball player). None of those really* matter, though, because this bandwidth is devoted to discussing a higher honor for Adrian Beltre: Hall of Famer.
*No, they don't really matter, but when the Hall of Fame voters convene for their ultimate popularity contest, the results of previous popularity contests hold a significant (and unfortunate) amount of weight.
Quick, mentally list the Rangers with legitimate cases for the Hall of Fame: There’s Josh Hamilton, who when he’s right, is prime HOF material. He’s right about 60ish percent of the time, and the issues that took those years off his career aren’t going away (and those years aren’t coming back.). There’s Elvis Andrus, who was doing things that Hall of Famers do at ages they do it in -- but Elvis might have another fifteen or twenty years of baseball left in him; so his conversation can easily be tabled for another decade.
Joe Nathan will have an impressive resume, but relievers are difficult birds to place with regard to the Hall. Yu Darvish definitely has the talent (especially if his tenure in Japan is considered as part of the player’s accomplishments), but the same caveat that applies to Elvis applies to Yu. And of course, there is Robbie Ross, who’s probably going to have his own wing dedicated to him.
None of them have as compelling of a case as Beltre has, though, even though Josh might have a more interesting argument.
Beltre has definitely built an offensive portfolio that points towards Hall status. Hall of Fame voters love counting stats, and he has those; of the 10 third basemen already in the Hall, Adrian has already out-homered all but two of them (Eddie Matthews and Mike Schmidt). The average HoF 3B hit 216 homers, and Beltre's at 335 (as of press time, which means he could be at 340 by the time you read this, and 342 by the time you realize how bad of a joke it is). The average 3B in the Hall had 1191 RBI; Beltre sits at 1190 right now.
Advanced stats offered a bit more of a mixed view on Beltre; he currently sits at 60 fWAR, which were that not to change (it won't not change), would tie him with Buddy Bell for the highest career fWAR for a third basemen not to be enshrined. However, the two most current entrants to the Hall, George Brett and Wade Boggs, sat at 91.6 and 94.8, respectively; while Beltre will make up some of the ground over the last stretch of his career, expecting 30+ fWAR from him is borderline ludicrous (said the guy who expects... no, knows that Robbie Ross will be a HoF'er).
Additionally, Brett held a career 133 wRC+, Boggs a 131; that metric marks Beltre as a 110. While these may not mean much to the current generation of Hall of Fame voters (I will give the first person to record Woody Paige's reaction to exposure to wRC+ real American money dollars), they will mean more and more as the Old Guard is replaced by Rob Neyers and Ben Lindberghs, which will be the voters Beltre will have to impress.
Ironically, Beltre's biggest calling card is still the Achilles' Heel of sabremetricians, the thing that is the most difficult to quantify and model; I'm talking of course about defense. Beltre is, or will be, this generation's Brooks Robinson, the measuring stick that other fielders of the position get unfairly put up against. I struggle with adjectives to really describe how good he is. I've already used my quota of 'transcendent' for this column (really, the entire duration of my writing career, because 'transcendent' is one of those words that shouldn't be used lightly) but few words really seem to do it justice.
His range is probably on the plus side... for a shortstop. His arm is as good as you'll find manning a hot corner. It's shocking to me that he's only won three Gold Gloves, but, then again, Derek Jeter has won three thousand Gold Gloves, which cheapens the award more than Brett Farve** cheapened the term retirement.
** No, I DID NOT misspell this. You get the spelling, or you get the pronunciation, Farve. Your call, but you don't get them both.
Of course, there will be a huge mark against Beltre that could come up in debates, that is especially hot in today's climate; yes, he lied about his age to sign. However, since he does thing his own way, he did this his own way, and lied to make himself OLDER to sign and begin his pro career at age 15. Given that those operations are normally reserved for altruism in World Wars and buying alcohol before the age of 21 rather than defrauding teams out of millions of dollars, I have to think that it only strengthens Adrian's argument in the end. That, and the man finished a game with an exploded testicle.
Let's all be honest, that alone should get the man a statue in Hall, not just a bust***.
***- Poor choice of words.
Joseph Ursery made of fun Woody Paige, Derek Jeter, and Brett Farve in one article. Looks like those classes in synergy are finally paying off! See if everything is indeed coming up Ursery by following Joe on twitter via @thejoeursery.