The Rangers finally snapped their 10-game road losing streak on Saturday night at the New York Mets. On pace to lose 92 games, this season has been a nightmare with injuries and bad luck haunting the club at every turn.
However, there has been one bright spot of consistency and fabulous play – third baseman Adrian Beltre.
Beltre’s numbers are fantastic – second in AL batting average with .336, sixth in on-base percentage at .383, while ranking ninth in slugging percentage (.515) and third in batting average with runner in scoring position (.355).
Beltre had the fifth-highest June batting average in Rangers history last month at .392, the highest month in his career. This comes with the Rangers’ lineup a considerable M*A*S*H unit, especially with Prince Fielder out, who served as considerable protection when Beltre comes to the plate.
Rangers manager Ron Washington was asked prior to Saturday’s game at the Mets about his team’s All-Star possibilities, and he was quick to point out Beltre.
“If they don’t take Beltre, it’s a farce,’ he said. “To play under the conditions he’s had to play and do what he’s done, he absolutely belongs.”
No one here is arguing.
Six third basemen since 1900 have recorded 2,500 hits, and Beltre is one of them. He earned No. 2,500 on June 25. Beltre is in his 17th MLB season, and that seems like a blur.
Washington thinks he is a sure-fire Hall-of-Famer.
“No doubt about it,” he said, adding that he believes that Beltre will end up reaching 3,000 hits and 500 career home runs (he entered Sunday’s game at the Mets with 386).
Beltre has 26 career multi-home run games. He is one of five in MLB history with 100+ homers wit three different teams (joining Darrell Evans, Reggie Jackson, Alex Rodriguez and Jim Thome). Beltre ranks fourth all-time in games played at third base with 2275 (now just seven behind Gary Gaetti at No. 3).
Maybe it wasn’t so bad losing out on Cliff Lee back in the winter of 2011. Many considered signing Beltre as the “consolation prize” to not landing Lee. I would say that Beltre has paid off just fine.
The key – he simply loves the game. Watch him on the field at anytime and there is always that smile on his face. Whether it is joking with Elvis Andrus about a routine play or jabbing with an opponent who just hit a triple, you can see the joy on the guy’s face when he is playing.
“I always loved the game,” Beltre told Fox Sports. “But sometimes, early in my career, I was a little too hard on myself. I didn’t enjoy the game as much. Now I see things differently. I know any day can be my last game.”
Adrian Beltre is easily one of the great players in the game that is simply not talked about. There’s a long second half of the season ahead for the Rangers and there’s not much to look forward to when you’re the third-worst team in the AL. But if you find yourself at a game this July or August, focus on No. 29 playing at third. He just might flash that trademark smile. And make you smile back in appreciation.