Adrian Beltre is on the brink of 3000 hits and could reach the milestone this weekend. Here’s a look at the career (so far) of the Cooperstown-bound third sacker.
Beltre’s Rangers played Ichiro‘s Marlins this week so we almost had the rare occurrence of a game with 3000 hit players opposing each other. That’s happened before only with these pairs of players:
- 1997: Eddie Murray/Paul Molitor
- 1993: George Brett/Robin Yount
- 1979: Pete Rose/Lou Brock
- 1971-73: Hank Aaron/Willie Mays
- 1925-27: Tris Speaker/Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker/Eddie Collins
- 1925-26: Eddie Collins/Ty Cobb
Beltre will become the just the 10th player to reach 3000 hits by his age 38 season. Very shortly thereafter, Beltre will pass Wade Boggs for the most hits by a career third baseman, and will likely pass George Brett next season for most hits while playing a majority of games at third base. Bill James “Favorite Toy” projection tool predicts 3370 career hits (10th), with a 25% chance of reaching the top 5.
Beltre’s ascent up the career hit list has accelerated markedly in the second half of his career. After his last season in Seattle at age 30, his career projection was just 2517 hits and only a 17% chance to reach 3000. Defying those odds, Beltre already has more WAR after age 30 than before. Beltre will join the 3000 hit club standing 6th in the group in highest percentage of career WAR after age 30 and will likely be second on that list by the end of next season, with only Honus Wagner apparently out of reach.
Beltre’s WAR accumulation has been steady but not spectacular, with just one 8 WAR season. But that puts him in good company with half of the 3000 hit club, becoming the 15th in that group with one such season or none. More impressive is Beltre’s accumulation of solid seasons, as he is poised this year to pass 3 WAR for the 17th time, the same number as Babe Ruth, Stan Musial, Mel Ott and Alex Rodriguez, and with only 8 players having more (Beltre drops to 44th on the list of most 4 WAR seasons, or 34th if he gets to 4 WAR this season; his ranks for 5, 6 and 7 WAR seasons are 22nd, 42nd, and 31st, respectively).
Other notable career milestones that Beltre has already reached are 450 home runs, 600 doubles, 1500 RBI and 5000 total bases. Likely in his future are 100 WAR, 500 home runs, 1500 runs, 3000 games and 12,000 PA. I’d give him an outside shot at 700 doubles (Favorite Toy says 23% as of start of this season), but a realistic chance (Favorite Toy says 53%) to pass Craig Biggio‘s total of 668 and move into the top 5 on that list. With 5 more extra-base hits, Beltre moves into the top 20 on that list, with a 65% chance to reach 1200 (8th) and a 9% shot at the top 5.
The Hall of Fame is notably under-represented by third baseman, which one presumes should enhance Beltre’s Hall chances (if, in fact, there remains any doubt as to his Hall worthiness). Beltre currently stands 3rd on the career WAR list for third baseman, after passing Brett last year and Boggs earlier this season. Beltre almost certainly (97% chance) will pass Eddie Mathews for second and stands a reasonable shot (31%) of catching Mike Schmidt. Beltre already stands second to Brooks Robinson in games played at third base and should pass Brooksie sometime in 2019 (likely early that year, if he stays healthy).
What may give some BBWAA voters pause in considering their HOF ballots in another 8 or 9 years is the effect on Beltre’s totals of the high run scoring environment over the first half of his career. But, they really shouldn’t give that another thought as Beltre’s neutralized totals, in fact, closely resemble his actual numbers, with his first half results held down by a late peak (excepting his career best 2004 season) and by playing in pitchers’ parks in LA and Seattle. My view is that Beltre is a solid Hall choice with a good shot at a first ballot selection, provided he isn’t on the same first ballot as Albert Pujols (my guess is Beltre outlasts Pujols). Hall of Stats agrees, already showing Beltre with a 175 score, in the top 50 all time and well above the 100 cutoff line.