Adrián Beltré officially became a first-ballot Hall of Famer on Tuesday night. Beltré glided into Cooperstown on his first BBWAA ballot, securing 95% of the vote from baseball writers. Todd Helton, Joe Mauer and manager Jim Leyland (who was voted in by the Contemporary Baseball Era Non-Players Committee) join him in the 2024 class.
We’ve already explored Beltré’s open-and-shut Hall of Fame case and even examined why he’s one of the greatest third basemen we’ve ever seen. But now, let’s celebrate this occasion and dive in on a subjective list of the top 10 moments of Beltré’s career.
10. The Goodbyes
Beltré’s 21-year career came to an end following the 2018 season. He hit .273 with 15 homers in 119 games that season at age 39. The Rangers didn’t finish the season at home, but the hometown fans sensed it was the last time they’d see him as a player and gave him a fitting sendoff.
The Rangers closed in Seattle that season. Beltré was able to get a hit that game, the 3,166th of his career. Keep in mind that he spent five seasons with the Mariners from ages 26-30 and the fans rewarded him with an ovation. In fact, there are several great moments in here, such as a hug shared with Félix Hernández.
9. First hit
Beltré entered the 1998 season as a prodigy. He was ranked as the third-best prospect in baseball by Baseball America and the Dodgers called him up on June 24, just a few months after his 19th birthday. He was slotted eighth in the lineup after Paul Konerko and Charles Johnson, just in front of starting pitcher Darren Dreifort. Chuck Finley was on the mound for the visiting Angels in Dodger Stadium.
In his first career plate appearance, Beltré came to the plate with Konerko on second and Johnson on first. He doubled to left to score Konerko.
Sure, it was almost caught, but it wasn’t and that’s what matters. I love seeing him jump on the first pitch. One hit and one RBI down in just one plate appearance.
8. First home run
A week later, Beltré was slotted in the nine-hole as his Dodgers visited Texas (how about that, huh?). Rangers starter Rick Helling struck Beltré out the first two times they faced each other. The third time, though, worked out well for the man who would end up hitting 120 home runs in Rangers Ballpark.
7. First walk-off homer
Beltré would hit nine walk-off home runs in his esteemed career. The record is 13 (Jim Thome), so he wasn’t too far off there. His first came on July 7, 2001. It was a tie game against the Mariners (what was it about hitting off his future teams?), 1-1, in Dodger Stadium. Against José Paniagua, Beltré walked it off with a shot to center field.
He would hit four walk-off homers for the Dodgers, two for the Mariners and three for the Rangers.
6. Grand slam for No. 48
Beltré led the majors in home runs in 2004 with 48, topping the likes of Albert Pujols, Barry Bonds, Manny Ramírez, Jim Thome and David Ortiz. Meantime, the Dodgers won the NL West by just two games that season. With just about a week left in the season, the Dodgers would outlast the Rockies at home to cling to a three-game lead and inch closer to clinching. Beltré’s 48th homer of the season was a go-ahead grand slam in this game:
5. Go-ahead HR leads to AL West title
The Rangers held a one-game lead in the AL West going into the final day of the 2015 season. The Rangers fell behind early, but a two-out, two-run Beltré blast put them on top for good as they would go on to clinch the division title.
4. 400th home run
Though 500 is the more hallowed home run figure, Beltré fell a bit short with 477 career homers. That isn’t low by any stretch of the imagination. It’s third all-time among primary third baseman, only trailing Mike Schmidt and Eddie Mathews. Only five third basemen ever even have reached 400, with Chipper Jones and Darrell Evans rounding out the group. Aside from Beltré, other all-time great defensive third basemen such as Brooks Robinson or Scott Rolen failed to reach 400 homers.
As such, I feel comfortable placing this one in the top five. His 400th career home run:
3. The one-kneed World Series homer
Beltré played in just one World Series in his career, but he made it count. He hit .300 with two doubles, two homers, three RBI and five runs in the iconic seven-game 2011 Fall Classic, which the Rangers eventually dropped to St. Louis. The home run that’ll be remembered would be the game-tying shot in the sixth inning of Game 5.
The Rangers would go on to win that one and take a 3-2 series lead.
2. 3-HR ALDS clincher, 2011
In playoff history, we’ve only seen 12 individual three-homer games. Babe Ruth pulled it off in the 1926 World Series and then again in the 1928 World Series (both were Game 4). We didn’t see it again until 1971, when Bob Robertson of the Pirates did so in Game 2 of the NLCS. Then there was Reggie Jackson in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series and George Brett in Game 3 of the 1978 ALCS. It didn’t happen again until Game 5 of the 2002 ALCS when Adam Kennedy launched three of his own. Those were the only six instances before Beltré did so in Game 4 of the 2011 ALDS against the Rays.
The Rangers won that game, 4-3. It ended the ALDS and paved the way for the Rangers’ second straight AL pennant.
1. 3,000th hit
On July 30, 2017, Adrián Beltré became the 31st player in MLB history to reach 3,000 career hits.
He would end up with 3,166, as mentioned in No. 10 on this countdown. He ranks 18th, sitting ahead of George Brett, Paul Waner, Robin Yount and Tony Gwynn on the all-time list. Those players are all Hall of Famers and, now, so is Mr. Beltré.