Carlos Beltrán, who spent this fall winning a championship with the Astros, announced his retirement with a story in the Players Tribune today. Beltrán spent 20 years in the big leagues, the first six and a half with the Kansas City Royals. He retires with 2,725 hits and a career featuring one of the most impressive blends of power and speed in modern history. Now that he has retired, he will have six years to wait before he is on the ballot for induction into the Hall of Fame. What are his chances?
Beltrán was one of the most prolific switch-hitters in baseball history. He is fourth all-time among switch hitters in home runs, with 435, behind only Mickey Mantle, Chipper Jones, and Eddie Murray. He was also in elite company with his power and speed combo. He was one of just four Major Leaguers ever to hit 400 home runs, 500 doubles, score 1,500 runs, and steal 300 bases, joining Barry Bonds, Willie Mays, and Alex Rodriguez. Also, there was this.
Carlos Beltran was the last remaining active MLB player from Backyard Baseball 2001. pic.twitter.com/D2cZtuLBnh— Cespedes Family BBQ (@CespedesBBQ) November 13, 2017
He is perhaps one of the greatest base-stealers of all-time. Out of all players since World War II with at least 100 career steals, he has the third-best success rate, successfully swiping bases 86.4% of the time. Beltrán was also a terrific defender, winning three Gold Gloves. He also won Rookie of the Year with the Royals in 1999.
His 2,725 career hits would put him 61st all-time, or 25th among Hall of Famers since World War II, just ahead of guys like Roberto Alomar, Billy Williams, and Tim Raines. His 435 home runs are 46th all-time, just behind Andre Dawson, but better than all but 20 Hall of Famers since the war. He is 53rd all-time in runs scored and 41st in RBI. His 69.8 career WAR is also 69th in history among position players, a very nice ranking that puts him just behind Gary Carter, but ahead of Tim Raines.
Beltrán was a nine-time All-Star, which helps illustrate how well he was thought of during his career. However, he never won an MVP, and only finished in the top five of voting once, in 2006 with the Mets. He never led the league in any offensive category, and was only top five among position players in WAR three times in his career.
He was an outstanding post-season hitter - he hit .307/.412/.609 in 65 career playoff games - but did not reach a World Series until he was 36 years old, with the Cardinals, and did not win a ring until this year. Perhaps his most memorable post-season moment was striking out looking to end the 2006 NLCS.
Still, Carlos Beltrán was probably one of the top ten centerfielders of all-time, and his résumé looks strong enough to warrant induction into the Hall of Fame someday. There is still a big glut of candidates that need to be voted in, and Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Andruw Jones, Roy Halladay, Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and David Ortiz could add to that list over the next few years. Beltrán may have to wait a bit, but he should get in. But with what cap?
The logo that adorns the bust of each Hall of Fame inductee is determined by the Hall of Fame staff. As Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson explains, "the Museum staff works with each inductee by suggesting an appropriate logo option, or no logo at all...For those whose most compelling contributions clearly took place with one team, a logo makes sense. For those whose careers were built significantly among multiple teams, not having a team logo is equally acceptable.”
Beltrán spent six and a half seasons with the Royals, six and a half seasons with the Mets, and seven combined with the Yankees, Cardinals, Giants, Astros, and Rangers. He played in 839 games with the Mets, 795 with the Royals. He made five All-Star teams with the Mets, and never represented the Royals at the Midsummer Classic (he made it in 2004, but a month after he had been traded to the Astros). He was a better hitter with the Mets, and reached the NLCS in 2006 with them. However, he won Rookie of the Year with the Royals, came up in Kansas City, and enjoyed some of his best seasons hitting in Kauffman Stadium.
If I had to guess, I would say Beltrán will end up with no logo in the Hall of Fame, much like the decision made recently with Greg Maddux and Tony LaRussa. If they do choose a logo, I would guess the Mets, which would be disappointing, but understandable. Either way, Royals fans should look forward to one day cheering on the second player in the Hall of Fame that spent a significant portion of his career in Kansas City.