Take a look at the all-time WAR leaderboard among third basemen:
Again, it’s a list of players either in the Hall of Fame or awaiting eligibility. Even further, Beltre is the only active player on it – though Miguel Cabrera is creeping in.
Let’s do something a little bit different, though. Let’s look at how all of those players stack up by only taking into account their age-31 seasons and beyond. Tabulated manually from Baseball-Reference, and remembering that Beltre is just 38 years old, that looks like this:
During what’s supposed to be a player’s decline, Beltre has been defiantly productive. In fact, he’s provided surplus value on every single season of his two veteran contracts – a five-year, $96-million deal and a two-year, $36-million deal. That feat in itself seems almost unbelievable in the modern era.
Beltre’s age-31 and beyond average WAR is just shy of 6.0 – a total Brooks Robinson only eclipsed once in his career, at the age of 27, and a mark which George Brett only beat twice, once at 27 and once at 32.
Granted, he hasn’t endured any declining phase at all – and that may come as he gets even nearer to or beyond 40. It’s worth noting, though, that Chipper Jones gracefully retired without venturing into the dubious late-career negative-WAR phase.
There are plenty of players who begin their careers on what appears to be a Hall of Fame pace. While Beltre’s best overall season – his 2004 campaign with the Los Angeles Dodgers – happened at 25 years old, it’s what he accomplished in his 30s that truly sets him apart.
In 2004, Beltré had a breakout season in which he established a number of career highs, including leading MLB with 48 home runs. Other career highs included batting .334, 200 hits, 121 RBI, 104 runs scored, .629 slugging percentage, and a then-career high 32 doubles. He finished second in voting for the NL Most Valuable Player Award (MVP) and was honored with his first career Silver Slugger Award and the Babe Ruth Home Run Award.
The Seattle Mariners signed Beltré as a free agent before the 2005 season to a five-year, $64 million deal. Regressing to his pre-2004 form, he batted just .255 with 19 home runs and 87 RBI. Manager Mike Hargrove did not give up hope on Beltré, saying, “I think it’s a season that, personally, he’s disappointed in. I think it was a year that he will improve on the longer he’s here and the longer he’s in the American League.”
After batting .167 through April 10, Ted Miller of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer wrote that Beltré may become one of the Mariners’ greatest busts. By June 5, 2006, Beltré’s batting average was slowly improving, from .109 on April 16 to .236 at that time. After hitting his first home run in April, and his second later that month, Beltré’s hitting began to improve.
Though it was not a great season for Beltré, it was statistically his best as a Mariner. He hit .276, had 26 home runs, 99 RBI, and a career high 41 doubles. He also was honored with a Fielding Bible Award for being the top MLB defensive third baseman during the year.
The 2007 season was not one of Beltré’s better defensive years statistically. He tied with Brandon Inge for the AL lead in errors by a third baseman, with 18, but ranked second in the league in assists, total chances, and range factor. He was charged with the lowest fielding percentage of all third basemen in the league at .958. In spite of leading third basemen in errors, Beltré was selected for his first Rawlings Gold Glove Award, becoming the first Mariners third baseman to win the award.
On September 1, 2008, Beltré hit for the cycle, at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, becoming the fourth Mariner to do so. Arizona Diamondbacks shortstopStephen Drew hit for the cycle that day as well, the first time two players had done so since 1920. He won his second Fielding Bible Award for his defense that year.
Beltré’s decision not to wear a cup despite playing third base has been well-documented. This came back to hurt him on August 13, 2009, when he took a hard ground ball to the groin. Although he stayed in for the remainder of the 14-inning victory, he was put on the DL after suffering bleeding in one of his testicles. In his first game after returning from the DL, teammate Ken Griffey Jr. conspired with those responsible for the Safeco Field public address system to have Beltré’s at-bat intro music be the opening march from The Nutcracker Suite.
Beltré declared free agency on November 5, 2009.
On January 7, 2010, Beltré signed a one-year, $9 million deal with the Boston Red Sox, which had a $5 million player option for 2011 with a $1 million buyout.
Beltré led the Red Sox in batting average (.321) in 2010 and tied David Ortiz for the team lead in RBIs (102). He finished the year with 189 hits in 589 at-bats. He had 28 home runs and 84 runs scored. Beltré led the Majors in doubles, with 49 (also a career high). He also finished fourth in the AL in batting average, and was fifth in the AL in total bases (326) and slugging percentage (.553). He also had two stolen bases on the year, and finished ninth in the MVP voting. On defense, he tied for the AL lead in errors by a third baseman, with 19. Beltré was also partially responsible for the Red Sox injuries woes that year, as he had two separate collisions with outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Jeremy Hermida, breaking their ribs in both instances.
On January 5, 2011, Beltré signed a five-year (2011–15), $80 million contract with a vesting option for $16 million for the 2016 season with the Texas Rangers. He was on the 2011 American League All-Star team. On July 22, Beltré strained his hamstring and was also placed on the DL. On September 4, he hit a line single to right against the Red Sox for his 2,000th career hit. On September 11, Beltré hit two home runs, including the 300th of his career, against the Oakland Athletics. He was named the AL Player of the Month for September.
In 2011, Beltré batted .296 with 32 home runs, fifth in the AL. He was third in the American League in slugging percentage (.561), sixth in RBIs (105), and ninth in OPS (.892). The Fielding Bible staff estimated that he saved 17 runs on defense in 2011.
On October 4, 2011, in Game 4 of the ALDS against the Tampa Bay Rays, Beltré became the sixth player—the first in a Division Series—to hit three home runs in a Major League playoff game. He added a fourth playoff home run in Game 5 of the 2011 World Series when he went down to one knee chasing an outside curve ball from Chris Carpenter. The St. Louis Cardinalsdefeated the Rangers in seven games. Beltré finished that postseason with five home runs and nine RBI.
More recognition was bestowed to Beltré for his defense. On November 1, 2011, he was honored with his third Gold Glove Award and first by a Ranger third baseman since Buddy Bell‘s six-year run from 1979–84. He also won his third Fielding Bible Award. On November 2, 2011 he was awarded the Silver Slugger Award.
Once again voted to the All-Star Game on July 1, 2012, Beltré was named a starter. He joined teammates Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli on the All-Star team. It was Beltré’s third All-Star Game and third in a row dating back to 2010 with the Boston Red Sox.
In the August 22, 2012, game against the Baltimore Orioles, Beltré hit three home runs in his first three at-bats, including two in the same inning. He joined Pablo Sandoval, Albert Pujols, George Brett, Reggie Jackson and Babe Ruth as the only players to hit a three-homer game in both the regular season and the postseason. On August 24, he hit for the cycle for the second time in his career. Both of his cycles came at Rangers Ballpark. With his first coming as a member of the Mariners, it was the first time in MLB history that a player had hit for the cycle more than once at the same stadium. He joined Joe DiMaggio as the only two players in big league history to have a three-homer game and a cycle in the same week. For his efforts, Beltré was named the AL Player of the Week for August 20–26. During the seven games he hit .433 (13-for-30) with three doubles, one triple, five home runs, nine RBI and seven runs scored. He had the highest slugging percentage (1.100) in the majors, the most total bases (33), was tied for first in hits and home runs, and tied for second in RBI.
After the season, more defensive accolades followed Beltré. He won his second consecutive Fielding Bible Award and fourth overall. He was also honored with the Gold Glove Award for the season on October 30, and second Platinum Glove Award. Wilson Sporting Goods honored him as one of their Defensive Players of the Year; in that year the award was established.
On July 8, 2013, Beltré was named the American League Player of the Week for July 1–7. He batted .478 (11-for-23) with four home runs, two doubles and five RBI in six games. He led the American League in home runs, slugging (1.087), OPS (1.607), total bases (25), and extra-base hits (six) while producing the fourth highest batting average. Beltré hit safely in all six games with two or more hits four times. He had the 24th multi-homer game of his career with a pair of home runs on July 4 against Seattle.
Maintaining his strong hitting throughout July, Beltré was named the American League Player of the Month, his fourth career monthly award. He batted .369 with four doubles, nine homers, 19 RBI and 13 runs scored over 26 games. He tied for the major league lead with both Alfonso Soriano, in home runs, and Torii Hunter, in total bases (69). Beltré also finished among the AL leaders in slugging percentage (second, .670), hits (tied for second, 38), extra-base hits (tied for fourth, 13), RBI (tied for fifth) and batting average (sixth). He capped off the month with a walk-off home run to lead the Rangers past the Angels on July 31, the seventh walk-off home run of his career, and first with Texas. It was his third monthly award with Texas, making him one of seven players to win multiple times with the Rangers, including Josh Hamilton (four), Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez (both with three), Iván Rodríguez, Juan González and Rubén Sierra (two each).
For the 2013 season, Beltré played in 161 games and totaled a .315 average, 30 homers, 92 RBI and .509 SLG. He led the American League with 199 hits and was fourth in batting average and fifth in total bases (321). He also made the top-10 in games played, slugging percentage and home runs. In the AL MVP voting, he was tied for seventh place. The Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America named Beltré the Texas Rangers Player of the Year.
On May 7, 2014, while facing Jorge de la Rosa of the Colorado Rockies, Beltré hit his 100th home run as a member of the Rangers, becoming only the fifth player in Major League history to hit 100 home runs with three different teams. He joined Darrell Evans, Reggie Jackson, Alex Rodriguez, and Jim Thome.
Beltré finished the 2014 season batting .324 – his highest average since 2004 – with 19 home runs and 77 RBI in 148 games.
In February 2015, the Rangers picked up Beltré’s option, which would have become guaranteed if he had reached 586 plate appearances in the 2015 season.
While playing the Cleveland Indians on May 15, 2015, Beltré hit his 400th home run on a sinker from Bruce Chen. He became the 52nd player in MLB history to reach that plateau, and the fourth to do so while playing at least 75 percent of his games at third base.
Enduring a torn ligament in his left thumb over the last three months of the season, Beltré had surgery to repair it immediately after the season ended.
On August 3, 2015, Beltré hit for the cycle with hits in each of the first, second, third, and fifth innings against the Houston Astros at Globe Life Park in Arlington in a 12–9 win. It was his third career cycle, second as a Ranger, and third at Globe Life, the Rangers’ home park, making him the only player ever to hit three cycles in one stadium. He became the first Rangers player to hit for multiple cycles. The first player in 82 years to hit for a third cycle, he became the fourth player to do so and tied the major league record for total career cycles, joining Long John Reilly, Bob Meusel and Babe Herman.
The Phi Delta Theta fraternity presented Beltré with the 2014 Lou Gehrig Memorial Award on September 17, 2015, making him the first Rangers player to win the award. He had contributed significantly to humanitarian acts in the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex such as Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation, Texas Rangers RBI program, the I Love Baseball program, which operates in the Dominican Republic, the Baseball Tomorrow Fund, as well as the foundations established by a number of major league players.
During the last week of the season, and the Rangers’ run towards the AL West championship, Beltré batted .448 with two home runs and 13 RBI. He also went 2-4 with a home in the final game of the season to help the Rangers advance to their sixth AL West title. He finished the season with 18 home runs, 83 RBI, 163 hits, and .287 average.
2016, Beltré and the Rangers agreed to a two-year, $36 million contract extension that would cover the 2017 and 2018 seasons. Valued at $18 million each for both seasons, the extension prevented Beltré from becoming a free agent at the end of the season.On April 15,
Displaying a drop to one knee, Beltré hit a home run on a curve ball from Jesse Hahn of Oakland on May 17. In a May 29 game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Beltré hit a two-run home run off Juan Nicasio to give him 1,501 career RBI, making him the 54th player to reach the milestone, and the fourth third baseman. On July 2, 2016, Beltré became the 28th player all time to amass 10,000 career at-bats. On July 23, 2016, he became the 36th player all time to record 11,000 career plate appearances. Two days later, he hit the walk-off home run, the ninth of his career, against the Athletics in the bottom of the ninth inning for a 7−6 win.
On August 24, 2016, Beltré, in a game against the Cincinnati Reds, hit a go-ahead two-out double for his 2,900th career hit and led the Rangers to a 6-5 win. With this hit, Beltré became the 39th player in Major League history to reach the milestone.
Beltré would once again show his signature home run knee drop after hitting a solo shot in the second inning in a game against the Houston Astros on September 13, 2016. His 30th of the season, it was the first time he reached the mark since 2013 and fifth in his career. Ten days later, his two-run home run in the eighth inning against the Athletics aided the Rangers in clinching the American League West division crown for the second year in a row and the seventh in franchise history. He also reached 100 RBI for the first time since 2012, and the fifth time in his career. He was selected as the American League Gold Glove winner at third base, the fifth of his career.
Beltré began the 2017 season on the 10-day disabled list; he had injured his right leg near the end of spring training. Beltré made his 2017 debut on May 29 versus the Tampa Bay Rays, batting fourth.
On July 4, Beltré hit his 600th career double, becoming the 17th player all-time to reach that milestone. On July 7, Beltré became the 21st player to amass 5,000career total bases. On July 26, Beltré was ejected by umpire Gerry Davis; in a game against the Miami Marlins, Davis asked Beltré, who was the next scheduled batter, to move closer to the on-deck circle. Beltré responded by picking up the edge of the logo that marked the on-deck circle and moving it closer to where he had been standing, which prompted Davis to eject him. Beltre collected his 3,000th hit with a double into left field against the Baltimore Orioles on July 30, 2017, making him the 31st player to reach this milestone.
Beltré’s signature home run swing includes a drop to one knee when connecting with a breaking ball, particularly notable during Game 5 of the 2011 World Series in an at bat against Cardinals ace pitcher Chris Carpenter. At times he swings so hard that he falls to one knee.
During a game against the Red Sox on June 26, 2016, Sandy León hit a foul ball which landed in the first row in the stands, just out of Beltré’s reach. However, instead of returning immediately to the infield, he reached very close to the ball in a motion as if he was going to take the fan who caught León’s foul ball.
Beltré is also known for his dislike of anyone touching the top of his head, which teammates have done frequently. Much to his disdain, the act has turned into a game, inducing repeat offenders such as Rangers teammate Elvis Andrus. Beltré also dislikes Gatorade showers. After a game in which he hit a grand slam that provided the decisive runs in a 5–2 win over the Athletics on August 15, 2016, he took a broom from the groundskeepers closet and began combing an area of infield dirt. Still, Rougned Odor trotted to Beltré carrying a bucket filled with Gatorade, and in his attempt to drench Beltré, missed him with the launch of the column of the liquid.
Regarding Beltré’s defense, master infield instructor and former Rangers manager Ron Washington, stated that the proper way to approach a ground ball to third base is to “flow through” the ball. After the Rangers signed Beltré to a five-year contract before the 2011 season, they sought to improve his skill by pairing him with Washington. He opined that Beltré’s technique is wrong because he stops before catching and then throws in spite of relying very little on the positioning of his feet. Essentially, his hands are so quick and his arm is so strong and he pivots and releases with uncanny precision from any angle that it hardly necessitates proper foot positioning in comparison to how many third basemen play.
Another major league manager, Joe Maddon, compared the unique style of Beltré’s defensive play to Ozzie Smith’s “flair at shortstop”, Stan Musial’s “coiled batting stance” and the way Steve Carlton wrapped his left wrist before releasing a slider. Commented Maddon further on Beltré’s defense, “There’s a lot of guys that did things unique to them that weren’t out of the Spalding Guide. They did things you wouldn’t teach, and if somebody else tried to do it, they would not be very good.” Commented Rangers bench coach Steve Buechele, “he’s not your most conventional third baseman, he does things his own way and has developed his own style over his career but there’s something to be said for his hand-eye coordination and his hands. It’s remarkable what he does. … He’s a super smart player, knows where to position himself.”
Actively involved in the community, Beltré has contributed significantly to humanitarian acts in the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex such as Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation, Texas Rangers RBI program, the I Love Baseball program, which operates in the Dominican Republic, and the Baseball Tomorrow Fund. Further, he has donated to Dave Valle‘s Esperanza International as well as foundations established by other major league players, including Robinson Chirinos, Eddie Guardado,Joakim Soria and Michael Young.
- All-World Baseball Classic Team (2006)
- 4× Fielding Bible Award at third base (2006, 2008, 2011, 2012)
- Lou Gehrig Memorial Award (2014)
- 4× MLB All-Star (2010–12, 2014)
- 4× MLB Player of the Month (September 2004, September 2011, September 2012, July 2013)
- 5× MLB Player of the Week (August 27, 2000; June 27, 2004; August 26, 2012; July 7, 2013; October 4, 2015)
- 2× Rawlings American League Platinum Glove Award (2011, 2012)
- 5× Rawlings Gold Glove Award at third base (2007, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2016)
- 4× Silver Slugger Award at third base (2004, 2010, 2011, 2014)
- 4× Texas Rangers Player of the Year (2012, 2013, 2014, 2016)
- Thomas A. Yawkey Award (Boston Red Sox team MVP) (2010)
- Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award for the Texas Rangers (2012)
- Selected MLB accomplishments
- All-time hit leader by a Dominican Republic native with 3,000 hits as of the 2017 season
- Fourth third baseman with 1,500 RBI, joining Hall of Famers George Brett, Mike Schmidt, and Chipper Jones
- One of five players to hit 100 home runs with three different teams
- MLB record for hitting for the cycles accomplished in the same stadium (3 at Globe Life Park in Arlington)
- Tied MLB record as fourth player to hit for the cycle three times
- Sixth player with a 3-home run game in both the postseason (October 4, 2011) and regular season (August 22, 2012)
- Second player with both a 3-home run game (August 22, 2012) and a cycle (August 24, 2012) within the same week