Adrian Beltre, Hall of Famer: Rangers third baseman reaches Cooperstown on first try

Beltre locked up a Hall of Fame resume during his time in Texas, where he played for the Rangers from 2011 until his retirement after the 2018 season.

DALLAS — Adrian Beltre, the former Texas Rangers third baseman who starred for nearly a decade in Arlington, was announced as a National Baseball Hall of Fame selection Tuesday evening.

Beltre was a near-unanimous selection on the ballots, garnering 95.1% of the votes cast. Just 19 of the 385 ballots submitted by voters this year did not include Beltre’s name.

As part of Tuesday’s reveal, Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer (on 79.7% of ballots) and Colorado Rockies first baseman Todd Helton (on 76.1% of ballots) were also announced as being inducted into the Hall as part of this year’s three-man class.

A player must be included on 75% of all submitted ballots to be elected into the Hall. The closest player to not cross that threshold in this year’s vote was Astros reliever Billy Wagner, who received 73.8% of the vote.

For Beltre, there was little doubt he’d make the Hall of Fame in this, his very first year on the ballot. As voters began to publicly reveal their selections in recent weeks, Beltre’s spot in Cooperstown seemed all but secured.

Beltre played 21 seasons for four different teams, including a stint with the Los Angeles Dodgers to start his career. But he locked up a Hall of Fame resume during his time in Texas, where he played for the Rangers from 2011 until his retirement after the 2018 season.

Beltre was the Rangers’ best player in that stretch, batting an All-Star level and playing some of the best defense in baseball at third base.

In eight seasons with Texas, he batted .305, hit 199 homers and drove in 699 runs. He also surpassed the career milestone of 3,000 hits in 2017. 

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Beltre ultimately finished his entire career with 3,166 hits, the 18th-most all-time.

For all of his traditional statistical prowess, Beltre’s career looked just as good through an analytics lens: He racked up 93.5 wins above replacement (WAR), according to Baseball Reference — good enough to place him 27th all-time among position players.

Beltre amassed all that WAR, in part, from playing his entire career at an elite defensive level. As a young player for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Beltre showed flashes of being a top hitter at the plate. But he was also inconsistent early on: He played at a near-MVP level in 2004 before struggling off-and-on at the plate through the 2000s prior to coming to Arlington.

His defense, though, was never in question: Beltre won back-to-back Gold Gloves in 2007 and 2008, and then took that fielding prowess to Boston and ultimately to Texas, where he matched the glove with the bat.

There is little doubt that when Beltre is formally inducted into the Hall in July, his bust will depict him in a Texas Rangers uniform. 

He is now the 13th person to play for or manage the Rangers to reach Cooperstown.

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