Photo: Klay Kuban
When the Texas Rangers signed Adrian Beltre before the 2011 season, it rubbed some people the wrong way. One of those people was franchise legend Michael Young. The franchise’s all-time leader in games played and hits, among other things, was going to be asked to move positions for a third time for an incoming player. The first time back in 2004, he was pushed from 2nd base to shortstop to make room for Alfonso Soriano after the Alex Rodriguez trade. Before the 2009 season, Young was pushed from shortstop to 3rd base to make room for the 20 year-old Elvis Andrus. Now just two years later and with the team coming off a run to their first appearance in the World Series, team general manager Jon Daniels had the nerve to test the heroic Michael Young again by relegating him to a DH/platoon infielder role for Adrian Beltre? Young even went as far as requesting a trade from the team he’d made his name with throughout an impressive career.
Though it wasn’t his fault, it wasn’t the best first impression for Beltre to make on Rangers fans. He quickly made up for it.
The Rangers made another run to the World Series in 2011, don’t ask how it ended, and Beltre was a vital piece to that. In his first season in Texas, Beltre was an All-Star, finished 15th in AL MVP voting, and won a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award as a 3rd basemen.
It’s been more of the same ever since. In his six full Rangers seasons (2011-2016), he has averaged 28 home runs and 94 RBI per season, finished in the top 10 of AL MVP voting four times and claimed three Gold Gloves.
If you listen to local sports radio and head to to Globe Life Park, you’ll hear/see Adrian Beltre’s greatness acknowledged and appreciated. Since the likes of Michael Young, Josh Hamilton and Ian Kinsler have left, Beltre has rightfully been anointed the face of the Rangers franchise.
During the grind of a 162 game season, fans need players like Adrian Beltre. It’s hard to recall a player with more lovable quirks or habits. Let’s rank them quickly:
1. Hitting Homers From One Knee
Does he do this just to show off? Anyway, it’s awesome.
2. Big Brother/Little Brother Relationship With Elvis Andrus
Lots of laughs watching these two watch over the left side of the infield for the last six years.
3. Anti-Head Touching
Has anyone ever heard him explain why he hates this?
Honorable mention: the way he wears his batting helmet essentially covering his eyes. Can he even see what’s coming? Obvious answer, but it still looks odd.
The Rangers have a long history of talented offensive players, but Beltre’s legendary glovework might make him the best all around player in franchise history. After Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez goes into the Hall of Fame this summer as a Ranger, Beltre might be the next player to head to Cooperstown with the Rangers logo on his hat.
Beltre’s 450th career home run served as the game winning run on Tuesday night when he blasted a pitch into the bleachers at Progressive Field in the 9th inning of a 2-1 Rangers win over the Indians. After missing nearly the first two months of season, Beltre has made up for some lost time and has quickly got to 2,970 career hits with 27 coming this season. When he reaches 3,000 hits later this summer, one can only hope it happens at home. No offense to Michael Young’s infield single for his 2,000th hit, Sammy Sosa’s tainted 600th career homer back in his odd 2007 season in Texas or Kenny Rogers’ perfect game in 1994, but the 39 year old Dominican Republic-native reaching 3,000 hits as a Ranger might be the most exciting career milestone in the history of Globe Life Park.
Whenever Beltre decides to hang it up, DFW can only hope it’s in a Rangers uniform. He’s a once in a generation talent and personality that happened to spend the final stretch of a legendary career.
Adrian Beltre arrived in Texas as an All-Star and Gold Glove winning resume. His time as a Texas Ranger has solidified him as Hall of Famer.
Similar to the Big German who shoots hoops across town, the average sports DFW sports fan doesn’t appreciate Adrian Beltre enough. Sure they know he’s here. They know he’s good. Few people under a certain age take the time to watch the Rangers on a regular basis and enjoy his greatness day-to-day. Their time might be running out. However long we have left with him, let’s just be sure to enjoy the greatness that is Adrian Beltre.