Adrian Beltré Sets Record Of Sorts; Is He Heading For Cooperstown?

NEW YORK, NY: Adrian Beltre #29 of the Texas Rangers hits a third inning sacrifice fly against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Sunday afternoon, Adrian Beltre singled in the sixth inning -- a seven-run sixth inning, as it happened -- which was a notable milestone because it was Beltre's 2,000th hit.

As Aaron Gleeman pointed out earlier this season, there are a fair number of players with 2,000 hits.

What sets Beltre apart are two things:

1. He's a third baseman, and

2. he's only 32 years old.

Beltre is the youngest third baseman in major-league history to reach 2,000 hits.

Oddly, neither the second youngest nor the fourth youngest are in the Hall of Fame.

Beltre reached 2,000 at 32 years, 5 months and 28 days.

Ron Santo reached 2,000 at 32 years, 6 months and 1 day.

George Brett reached 2,000 at 33 years, 10 days.

Buddy Bell reached 2,000 at 33 years, 7 months and 30 days.

Of course, George Brett's in the Hall of Fame and Ron Santo should be. Buddy Bell's even got a better argument than you probably think, but his last good season came at 35 and he was finished at 37.

Anyway, there are two points here.

One, Beltré's on track for some pretty impressive career numbers.

Two, he's already done some pretty impressive things.

When's the last time you heard some attach future Hall of Famer to "Adrian Beltré"? Or superstar?

Probably never. Or almost never. Which doesn't seem quite right.

Then again, we can overstate the case. Beltré's got a lot of hits because a) he got an exceptionally early start, debuting in the majors when he was 19, and b) he's never walked much, averaging only 45 walks per 162 games. Because Beltré doesn't walk, his career on-base percentage is just .328. And because Beltré's career on-base percentage is just .328, his career value does not place him squarely in a group of Hall of Fame third basemen.

Beltré's 46 career Wins Above Replacement are quite impressive. But they're fewer -- through the same age, 32 -- than Buddy Bell (56), Sal Bando (52) and Robin Ventura (47), and roughly the same as Ken Boyer (46). None of those guys are in the Hall of Fame. Historically, third basemen have not aged particularly well.

Among currently active third basemen, though, Beltré has to rank fourth, right? Behind Alex Rodriguez, Chipper Jones, and Scott Rolen? But ahead of everyone else? And all three of those guys are highly qualified for the Hall of Fame. Beltré might eventually be passed by David Wright, Evan Longoria, and/or Ryan Zimmerman.

But let's appreciate Beltré while he's still fairly near his prime. Aside from controlling the strike zone, he's done about everything a third baseman can do. And even at 32, he's already been doing it for a long time.

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