ARLINGTON -- Before arriving in Texas ahead of the 2011 season, Adrián Beltré was an above-average player.
He had a pair of Silver Slugger Awards and Gold Glove Awards to his name, as well as an All-Star appearance in 2010. In those 13 years before joining the Rangers, he slashed .275/.329/.462 with a 108 OPS+ between the Dodgers, Mariners and Red Sox.
Then, deep in the heart of Texas, Beltré became a Hall of Famer. In his eight years in Arlington, Beltré hit .305 with an .866 OPS. He had six top-15 AL MVP finishes, and he was the undisputed leader of the clubhouse during some of the best years in franchise history.
Beltré was honored with a call from Cooperstown on Tuesday, informing him that he was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year on the ballot as voted on by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. His name appeared on 95.1% of the ballots. He needed at least 75% of the vote for entry into the Hall.
Beltré was joined by fellow electees Todd Helton, the longtime first baseman of the Rockies, and Joe Mauer, the face of the Twins during his peak. Iconic manager Jim Leyland was elected in December via the Contemporary Baseball Era Committee process.
“On behalf of the entire Texas Rangers organization, I want to congratulate Adrián Beltré on his election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame,” said Rangers majority owner Ray Davis. “For more than two decades, Adrián excelled both offensively and defensively as one of the top third basemen in Major League history. His competitiveness and desire to be in the lineup every day, no matter the circumstances, earned him the utmost respect and admiration from his peers.
“We were privileged to have him as a member of the Rangers for the final eight seasons of his remarkable career. Through his excellence on the field and influence in the clubhouse, Adrián’s contributions in helping lead the Rangers to four playoff appearances were immense. He is a true legend in the game.”
By the end of his career -- the final eight years of which he spent in Texas -- Beltré compiled five Gold Glove Awards, two Platinum Glove Awards, four All-Star Game selections and four Silver Slugger Awards. He compiled 477 home runs and 3,166 hits (1,277 of those coming with Texas) with four different teams. His 93.5 bWAR ranks third among third basemen in baseball history behind Mike Schmidt (106.8) and Eddie Mathews (96.0).
His No. 29 already hangs in Globe Life Field alongside the numbers of Nolan Ryan, Michael Young, Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez and Johnny Oates. Ryan and Rodriguez are both in the Hall of Fame as well.
Beltré was signed by the Dodgers out of the Dominican Republic as a teenager and made his big league debut in 1998, when he was 19. He became the everyday third baseman for Los Angeles the following year, capping off a seven-season run with an MVP runner-up finish to Barry Bonds in 2004. He hit .334 with a Major League-leading 48 home runs and 121 RBIs before hitting free agency in what appeared to be his prime.
Beltré then signed a five-year deal with the Mariners. But while he earned two Gold Glove Awards, his time in Seattle wasn’t the most prominent of his career. His first year, in 2005, was one of his least productive seasons, when he hit .255 with 19 home runs in 156 games.
During his final years in Seattle, however, Beltré said he rediscovered his love of the game. He stopped trying to do too much or prove people wrong, and he focused only on baseball. So before he became a Hall of Famer in Texas, it was a one-year deal with Boston that proved just how high his ceiling could be.
During his All-Star 2010 season with the Red Sox, Beltré slashed .321/.365/.553. He hit a Major League-leading 49 doubles to go along with 28 homers and reestablished his prowess at the plate.
“Even though I had different offers, multi-year offers, I thought that what I did the year before wasn't me,” Beltré said. “So once I got the offer from Boston, I understood that I had the chance to show if I'm healthy, what I can do. It helped my career. I was grateful for the opportunity. Boston was the team to put me on the map.”
Beltré signed with the Rangers on Jan. 5, 2011. During his Rangers Hall of Fame induction, he said that he wasn’t expecting to love Texas as much as he did. It almost surprised him how well the partnership between himself and the organization worked out.
He provided countless memories in his eight seasons in Texas, from his lone World Series appearance in 2011, to his 3,000th hit in '17, to the defensive plays that earned him two Platinum Glove Awards. He spent more time with the Rangers than any other team in his career, playing in 1,098 games for the club.
More than anything, it’s where he solidified his place in Cooperstown.
“I appreciated the fact that the Rangers gave me the chance to come to their old park and to this city and be part of the great team they already had,” Beltré said. “The way that the front office treated me and my family, the way my teammates treated me -- it was a great combination for both. I think it was a great spot and I think they found what they needed at the time [in me].
“Once I got there, I just felt comfortable with the fan base. Everything about Texas, about Dallas and Arlington, it just clicked for me. Having a good group of guys competing, it was easier for me to come out and perform and just be happy doing what I did. There's no doubt that the Rangers have a lot to do with my career and I appreciate the fact they trusted me with bringing me to Arlington.”