Carlos Beltran became the seventh player in the MLB history with 1000 extra base hits, 1000 walks and 300 stolen bases this season. These impressive marks, only equaled by Alex Rodriguez, Willie Mays, Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Tris Speaker and Ty Cobb, have called some to state that when Beltran hangs up his cleats, his career deserves to be stamped into immortality in Cooperstown.
Charlie Freyre and Andrew Vazzano of SNY debate: Does Carlos Beltran belong in the Hall of Fame?
If you built a baseball player in a laboratory, you'd produce something resembling Carlos Beltran. One of the most versatile players I've ever seen, every tool in Beltran's skill set can be described as excellent or bordering on excellent. His impressive statistics across almost any way you measure a player's performance speaks to that.
So it's with the utmost respect for his abilities when I say Carlos Beltran is not a Hall of Famer. And not for any of the usual, stupid reasons people make a case for him being out; One unfortunate strikeout for the Mets shouldn't overshadows an outstanding postseason batting career, his penchant for jumping around teams is a byproduct of the hyper-commercialized era he played in and shouldn't even be a consideration when deliberating on his deservingness of an individual accolade, and if you still care about his aloof personality, I don't know what to tell you.
But here are the things Carlos Beltran never accomplished: Winning a league MVP (he only finished in the Top-5 in voting once, in 2006 where came in fourth), a batting title, a home run title, a multiple-year long run of statistical dominance, ever at any point having an argument that he was the best player in the baseball, or appearing more than once in the Top 10 for Wins Above Replacement (he came in at #9 in 2003 with a WAR of 6.9).
Hall of Fame entry should require more than being good for a really long time, but reserved for sustained excellence. It should be for "circle the date your team is playing his team because you don't want to miss watching him" type players. It should be for "sticking around on national TV games until he's up at-bat because you want to catch a glimpse of him" type players. Beltran never was that guy. He was very, very, very good for a lot of teams, and in the playoffs he was often exceptional. And his varied skill-set and playing in an era with modern medical technology has allowed him to remain very good longer than 99% players before could have dreamed of managing. That's a great resume, but it's not a Hall of Fame resume. It wouldn't be inaccurate to call Beltran a *extremely Mike Francesa voice* compiler, not a generational talent. So sorry Carlos Beltran, you have a career you should be extremely proud of, just not one that deserves to be enshrined in Cooperstown.
Beltran is a definite Hall of Famer in my book, though not a first-ballot guy. Over his 19 years in the majors, he's but up great numbers often, and solid numbers year in and year out. He's continuing to produce at age 39, and could continue playing for another year or two if he so pleases.
You could definitely argue that Beltran is a "compiler," only notching certain milestones because of his longevity in the league. But, one could also say being able to stay healthy for so long, so productive since his first full year at age 22, to only missing major parts of three seasons.
But Beltran's greatness goes beyond his power at the plate. The Puerto Rican covered centerfield better than almost anyone else in the game for so many years. Sure, his range is severely diminished now that he's manning right field and splitting time at DH in the twilight of his career, but many may forget how truly good he was with the leather if you're only used to seeing him in navy pinstripes.
And that's not even touching on his insane postseason numbers. Obviously, he's forever marked by the called strike three in Mets orange and blue, but in 52 postseason games, he's put up insane stats. For his career, he has a .332 batting average, .441 OBP and .674 SLG (good for a 1.115 OPS) in playoff games. He's crushed 16 home runs and driven in 40 in 223 plate appearances. Obviously, his high water mark came with Houston in 2004, where he was simply out of his mind: .435/.536/1.022 (1.557 OPS), with eight home runs and 14 RBI in 56 PA.
Taking a look at similarity scores on Baseball-Reference, five of the top 10 players most similar to Beltran are already enshrined in Cooperstown, with two or more possibly joining those storied ranks.
All in all, Beltran has put together an unbelievable career that may not be over yet. Rookie of the Year, eight-time All-Star, three Gold Gloves, two Silver Sluggers, in the running for MVP seven times (ranked 26th or better among all players)… the accolades just keep coming.
Throw out all the places he's played, all the tiny, minor and major markets, the national stage and the team the front of his jersey and Carlos Beltran's numbers speak for themselves. A lengthy, excellent career, with some stellar season and solid glovework, plus insane postseason numbers and Beltran should start writing an acceptance speech now, if he hasn't already. He'll find his way to upstate New York not long after he's finally done producing on the field.
Oh, and just for good measure, I think he'll be enshrined wearing a New York Mets cap… but that's not up to me, or him.