Coming off his eighth all-star appearance in a decade-and-a-half of Major League Baseball, Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran believes that he still has a few good years left in him. Beltran hopes that if he can stick around for at least three more seasons, he could be close to securing a spot in Cooperstown, reports Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
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"This is my 15th (season). If I could do (three more), that would be a good career for me. Now that I have heard a lot about (the Hall of Fame) I do think about it...
"If I can stay healthy and play in the game to the level I’m playing right now, who knows, man? … I could be close."
Beltran, 36, has been moved out of center field and doesn't steal bases as frequently as he used to due to age and previous knee problems, but he doesn't seem to be showing any signs of slowing down other than that. He has thrived in right field in his two seasons with the Cardinals, batting .284/.346/.510 with 51 home runs in 969 plate appearances.
Just where Beltran will go after this season is anyone's guess, but he should command a pretty hefty price for a guy on the wrong side of 35 if he's able to sustain his production through the end of the year.
While his Hall of Fame credentials are ultimately up to the BBWAA, Beltran is certainly keeping good company among switch-hitters. He ranks ninth all-time in wins above replacement for switch-hitters at 67 bWAR, and has a good chance of cracking the top five if he's able to stay healthy and productive over the next three-plus years. His career WAR is already better than that of four HOF switch-hitters -- Roberto Alomar, Max Carey, Dave Bancroft, and Red Schoendiest -- and he could potentially surpass two more -- Eddie Murray and Frankie Frisch -- by the end of this season.
Beltran is a career .283/.359/.498 hitter with 353 home runs and 308 stolen bases in 15 big-league campaigns. He's unlikely to reach traditional HOF benchmarks like 500 home runs or 3,000 hits, but a lot of his value is derived in other areas. For instance, some believe him to be one of the best defensive center fielders of his era, not to mention one of the game's best base-stealers -- he's been successful in over 86 percent of his attempts, better than any other player with at least 300 steals since World War II ended.