5 reasons Beltré belongs in the Hall of Fame

January 22nd, 2024

was a joy to watch play baseball for over two decades.

From his signature down-to-one-knee home run swings to his fun-loving attitude on the field, the All-Star third baseman was a one-of-a-kind player who treated fans to plenty of memorable moments over the course of his career. Now Beltré is on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time, and it's only a matter of time before he's elected to Cooperstown.

Here are five reasons why Beltré belongs in the Hall of Fame.

1) His 3,000-hit club membership

Beltré has 3,166 reasons why he belongs in the Hall of Fame. He ranks 17th on MLB's all-time hits leaderboard with that number, and is one of just 33 members of the 3,000-hit club.

If you get 3,000 hits in the Major Leagues, you're basically guaranteed to be a Hall of Famer. Nearly every 3,000-hit club member is already in Cooperstown, or, like Beltré, headed there soon (Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera and Ichiro).

As part of one of baseball's most storied and exclusive clubs, Beltré belongs in the Hall of Fame on that criterion alone. He has more hits than George Brett, Tony Gwynn and Rickey Henderson … and those are just a few of the MLB legends he's ahead of.

2) He's one of the best third basemen ever, period

Beltré is a Hall of Famer whether you look at his old-school or new-school stats. Here are the new-school stats. Beltré is the third-best third baseman in MLB history by Wins Above Replacement, with 93.5 career WAR per Baseball Reference. The only third basemen ahead of him are Mike Schmidt and Eddie Mathews; Beltré is ahead of Hall of Famers like Wade Boggs, George Brett, Chipper Jones, Brooks Robinson, Paul Molitor, Ron Santo and Scott Rolen.

If you look at a combination of Beltré's career WAR and the WAR for his peak years, he's also a top-five third baseman ever, in a tier with Schmidt, Mathews, Boggs and Brett. WAR isn't meant to be the be-all, end-all of "who's better," but it does tell you the tier of greatness Beltré belongs in: the Hall of Fame tier.

(Note: For these purposes, Alex Rodriguez is considered a shortstop, as that's where he played the most games; if you treated him as a third baseman, he'd top the career WAR leaderboard.)

3) He had the bat and the glove

Plenty of Hall of Famers are in Cooperstown because of their bat. Some, like Ozzie Smith, are there because of their glove. Beltré had both. He was a four-time Silver Slugger at third base, and he was a five-time Gold Glover there, too (he even won the first two Platinum Glove Awards as the American League's best overall fielder in 2011 and '12).

Let's go back to Beltré's WAR for a second. You can break down his career WAR totals into offensive and defensive components. Beltré is the seventh-most valuable value offensive third baseman in MLB history, behind only Mathews, Schmidt, Chipper, Brett, Boggs and Molitor. And he's the second-most valuable defensive third baseman in MLB history, behind only Robinson.

You could of course argue that third basemen like Schmidt and Rolen were as good as or better than Beltré defensively, but again, the point is just to show you the level at which Beltré spent his career -- easily Hall of Fame caliber on both sides of the ball. Beltré's value came from all parts of his game.

4) He didn't just have the hits, he had the power

Beltré's 3,166 hits is the milestone offensive number that stands out on his Hall of Fame résumé. But don't forget that he had great power numbers, too.

Beltré finished his career with 477 home runs, 1,151 extra-base hits and 1,707 RBIs. Here's how those totals stack up historically:

  • Beltré's 477 homers rank 31st all-time and are the third-most among third basemen behind Schmidt and Mathews
  • His 1,151 extra-base hits are 15th-most all-time and the most among third basemen
  • His 1,707 RBIs are 25th-most all-time and the most of any third baseman

Beltré had five 30-homer seasons, and 12 seasons with 20 or more. He had eight seasons with 60 or more extra-base hits. He even has an MLB home run crown, from when he led the Majors with a career-high 48 homers in 2004.

His slugging totals would meet the Hall of Fame standard no matter what position he played, and Beltré especially stands out at third base.

5) He was a superstar for four different franchises, and an icon for one

Beltré played for four teams in his 21-year career, the Dodgers, Mariners, Red Sox and Rangers.

He was a star for all of them, and he only got better with age -- over the course of the last stop of his career with the Rangers, Beltré became a beloved franchise icon in Texas. That's where he made three of his four All-Star teams, went to the playoffs four of his five times and recorded his milestone 3,000th hit.

In eight years as a Ranger, Beltré played 1,098 games and had a .304 batting average, 1,277 hits, 199 home runs and 699 RBIs. But he was also an MVP runner-up in Los Angeles, an All-Star in his one year in Boston and a two-time Gold Glover in Seattle.

Beltré's longevity as a superstar -- being great everywhere he played, for over two decades, and capping off his career with his most dominant run as a Major Leaguer -- is just one more reason he's a surefire Hall of Famer.