2013 Stats: .315/.371/.509, 30 HR, 92 RBI
Salary: $17 million ($18 million in 2015 with a $16 million vesting option in '16)
Each week, we will look at key players on the Texas Rangers 25-man roster, and this week we look at the only guaranteed Hall of Famer, Adrian Beltre.
Year in Review: The 2013 season was another all-star level season for Beltre. He led the league in hits (199), played in 161 games and had his most walks as a Ranger (50). If Beltre would've had a typical exemplary defensive season, it may have been a MVP-caliber year (finished seventh in MVP race after finishing third in '12).
11.7, 13.9, 10.4, 11.3 and 10.0
These numbers are Beltre's Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) from 2008-12. This past season saw his UZR as -1.2. The last time he had a negative UZR was 2007. Were last year's defensive struggles a fluke or sign of old age (turns 35 on April 7)? There have been many talking heads suggesting Beltre be moved to first base or designated hitter, but those talks are premature. Despite his fragile hamstrings, Beltre has played in 317 out of a possible 324 games the last two seasons. After winning back-to-back Gold Gloves in 2011 and 2012, it is better to treat 2013 defensive woes as an anomaly.
Offensively, Beltre was once again a steady force in the lineup as he reached the 30 homerun plateau for the third consecutive season, finished fourth in American League in batting average and ninth in OPS (.880).
Career: As mentioned earlier, Beltre is a near Hall of Fame lock. I wrote about it back in June and Sports Illustrated's Jay Jaffe wrote about it in July. Heading into the 2014 season, he is ninth in baseball history with 70.5 rWAR, slightly behind Ron Santo (70.6). As a Ranger, Beltre has been a model of consistency with a .312/.356/.542 split. According to Fangraphs, he has been worth $78.7 million in value for Texas the last three years with two more years remaining on his five-year, $80 million contract. The slugger only has two guaranteed seasons left so fans should appreciate what they have in front of them.
2014 season: Projections have Beltre dipping offensively slightly, but still hitting .296/.347.504 and worth 4.5 wins. Jon Daniels and the front office would be happy with those numbers while Manager Ron Washington wants simply to be able to pencil Beltre into the lineup each and every day (146 games projected). He plays through pain and discomfort year round, and appears to display that leadership quality the old school pundits yearn for. This offseason, the message has been 'win now' and this third baseman will have to play a large role once again in 2014.
Eddie Middlebrook also writes for Paranoid Fan as a MLB and College Football contributor. He can be seen on Twitter@emiddlebrook.