MLB on Sling: Adrian Beltre Is the Newest Mr. 3000 (And He’s Been Better Than Jeter)

Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre on Sunday ripped a shot down the third baseline for a double against the Orioles’  that made him the 31st member of Major League Baseball’s 3,000-hit Club, the latest achievement in a criminally overlooked career.

At 38, Beltre has put together a Hall of Fame career and established himself as one of the game’s five best third basemen of all time. Don’t believe it? Here’s how he ranks among 3B in a variety of categories:

3000 Hits – 3rd

605 2B – 2nd

454 HR – 4th

5040 Total Bases – 2nd

1096 Extra-base Hits – 2nd

1607 RBI – 2nd

92.4 WAR – 3rd

27.8 dWAR – 2nd

49.7 WAR7 – 4th

71.0 JAWS – 4th

53.6 WAA – 4th

Since missing the first third of the season with an TK, Beltre has been his regular outstanding self, with a 140 OPS+ while still playing great defense, posting 2.1 WAR in just 217 plate appearances. But Beltre isn’t just a historically great third baseman, he’s a historically great player, ranking in the top 30 among position players in WAR, dWAR, total bases, extra-base hits, games, and doubles, and sometime next season, he’s apt to become just the 14th player in the game to score 1500 runs, drive in 1500 runs and get 3000 hits, while playing better D than all the others save Cal Ripken and Willie Mays.

And, yes, he’s been better than Derek Jeter. Through 2700+ games, they’ve been similarly productive at the plate, albeit it in very different ways, with Beltre beting 400+ dingers, while Jeter was an on-base machine, with Beltre posting the higher OPS, .820 to .817, and OPS+, 117 to 115. It’s when you flip to the other side of the ball that Beltre puts some daylight between them, with the 13th-best dWAR of all time, while Jeter grades out as one of the 10 worst-fielding shortstops ever (minimum 3000 PA). Where Jeter had just 6 seasons of 5+ WAR, Beltre has had 10. Where Jeter limped to the finish line with 4.5 WAR over his last 2793 PA, Beltre has averaged 5.4 WAR over his last 2780 PA.

But for all this, Beltre hasn’t received nearly the accolades one would expect, making just 4 All Star teams, and winning 5 Gold Gloves and 2 Platinum Gloves, and 4 Silver Sluggers. His meager awards are largely a product of bad timing, as he came up as a 19-year-old in the NL where he was competing for attention at 3B with the likes of Chipper Jones and Scott Rolen. In his final NL season, his 2004 breakout campaign, he got beat out for the ASG by Rolen and Mike Lowell, who was having a monster first half and riding a wave of love following the Marlins’ 2003 World Series title. And after moving to the AL in 2005, he found himself often lost in the shuffle of a golden age of 3B consisting of A-Rod, Longoria, Donaldson, Miguel Cabrera, and Manny Machado. But all of those guys either failed to stick at third or maintain Beltre’s level consistency (though Machado is looking like he could be the second coming of Beltre).

But Beltre’s skills at the hot corner and at the plate pale in comparison to the joyous absurdity with which he approaches the game. From his pathological aversion to having his head touched, to his hilarious shenanigans with Elvis Andrus to recently getting ejected for moving the on-deck circle after the ump had told to him stand in it, Beltre has always appeared to be having more fun than the rest of the guys on the field.



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All stats courtesy ESPN and Baseball Reference


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