In April, I wrote an article for USA Today’s Sports Weekly about milestones and Wins Above Replacement (WAR). In the article, I focused on Adrian Beltre, who only trailed Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols, and Derek Jeter among active players in WAR.
Adrian Beltre is just behind Jeter and another active player who could jump into the top 50.
Beltre spent his first 12 seasons frustrating his teams with inconsistent offensive performances. He hit .274 with 147 home runs as a Los Angeles Dodger (highlighted by a 48-homer performance in 2004 that he has yet to repeat). He followed that by hitting .266 with 103 home runs across five seasons with the Seattle Mariners. Despite his modest offensive totals, his elite defensive performances made him worth more than 40 WAR by the time he signed a one-year deal with the Boston Red Sox for 2010.
Once Beltre found his way into hitter's parks, he thrived. In one year in Boston and three with the Texas Rangers, Beltre hit .314 with 126 homers and pushed his WAR total to 71, 61st all time. He can move into the top 50 with a three-win season, a total he has exceeded each of the past 11 seasons.
As of this writing, Beltre has surpassed three wins in 2014, moving him past Reggie Jackson into 50th place among position players.
WAR tends to favor longevity, which Beltre has plenty of. He is 99th all time in plate appearances despite only being 35 years old. Hall Rating gives a bit more emphasis to peak value (which is why I prefer it for ranking players and assessing Hall-worthiness). Beltre also has plenty of peak value, though not quite as much as longevity. Beltre has exceeded 6 WAR three times but typically tends to sit in the 3–6 WAR “All-Star-but-not-quite-MVP” range.
Entering 2014, Beltre was 101st all time in Hall Rating—and that’s among all players, not just position players and not just eligible players. With his performance in the season’s first half, Beltre has bumped Edgar Martinez out of the 100th spot and joined this elite group. Keep in mind that 2014 stats are not reflected on the site yet, but I did some quick calculations and yes—Adrian Beltre is now one of the top 100 players of all time (at least, according to Hall Rating).