Danny Abriano, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Carlos Beltran announced his retirement from baseball on Monday, about two weeks after winning his first World Series title when the Astros defeated the Dodgers.
The 40-year-old Beltran, who slashed .279/.350/.486 while hitting 435 HR, 565 doubles, 78 triples (he had 2,725 hits total), and stealing 312 bases during his 20-year career -- which he spent the majority of as one of the best defensive center fielders in baseball -- will almost certainly be a Hall of Famer.
The question now becomes, which hat (if any) should adorn Beltran's plaque in Cooperstown?
Beltran played for the Royals, Mets. Giants, Cardinals, Yankees, Rangers, and Astros (two separate stints) during his career.
The Hall of Fame used to allow each player to decide which cap they wore, until a few players attempted to have a cap that had no business on their Hall of Fame plaque chosen. The Hall still allows players to influence which hat goes on their plaque, but they have final say.
With the Hall now having final say, it's safe to eliminate the Astros, Giants, Cardinals, Yankees, and Rangers as possibilities for Beltran's Hall of Fame plaque.
To those who would argue for the Astros: Beltran had one good season there (2004), and played a total of 219 games for them. The only teams he played fewer games for? The Rangers and Giants.
That leaves three options...
The case for the Mets
Beltran played the most games for the Mets (839), had his best slash line (.280/.369/.500), was a four-time All Star during his time in Queens, hit 149 HR, had his best overall season with the Mets (in 2006), and achieved postseason success there -- though we know how that ended. In addition to a better overall slash line, Beltran had more homers, doubles, runs scored, and RBI for the Mets than he did for the Royals.
Unfortunately, becase many fans blame Beltran for the Mets' 2006 loss in the NLCS, when he hit .296/.387/.667 with three HR but struck out to end Game 7, he's often remembered as 'the guy who struck out' instead of what he was -- the best all-around player in the history of the franchise. And his exit from Queens was not smooth.
The case for the Royals
It's where Beltran started, and where he had some of his best seasons. He played 795 games for Kansas City, slashing .287/.352/.483 while hitting 123 HR as he established himself as one of the best players in baseball. Beltran never reached the postseason while a member of the Royals.
Beltran's departure from the Royals came in 2004, when he was dealt to the Astros during the season and went on to have a torrid postseason as the Astros lost to the Cardinals in the NLCS in 7 games.
The case for a blank cap
If Beltran doesn't want to choose between the Royals and Mets, the blank cap would come in to play. Recently, Greg Maddux -- who spent the majority of his career with the Braves but who experienced lots of success with the Cubs -- chose to have a blank cap on his plaque.
So, which cap should adorn Beltran's Hall of Fame plaque?