Adrián Beltré

Adrián Beltré Pérez (born April 7, 1979) is a Dominican former professional baseball third baseman. Originally signed as an amateur free agent, he made his Major League Baseball (MLB) debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1998 at age 19. He subsequently played for the Seattle Mariners, Boston Red Sox, and Texas Rangers. He batted and threw right-handed. Beltré is one of the most all-around accomplished players in history; he ranks 13th in defensive Wins Above Replacement and was the fourth third baseman to reach 400 home runs and 1,500 runs batted in. Beltré was a four-time selection for the Silver Slugger Award and MLB All-Star Game, and a five-time winner of the Rawlings Gold Glove Award.

The fifth major-leaguer to hit at least 100 home runs for three teams, he hit at least 20 home runs in 12 seasons, and in five, drove in at least 100 runs. He hit a major league-leading 48 home runs while playing for the Dodgers in 2004, was the team MVP of the Red Sox in 2010, and tied for the major league lead in hits in 2013 while playing for the Rangers. Sharing the record as one of four major leaguers to hit for the cycle three times, Beltré was the only one to hit three at the same stadium, Globe Life Park in Arlington. He was the sixth player with a three-home-run game in both the regular season and postseason, and the second with both a three-home-run game and cycle in the same week. On July 30, 2017, he became the 31st player in MLB history to reach 3,000 hits, and the first from the Dominican Republic.

When he retired, Beltré ranked in the top ten all-time at his position in games played, assists, putouts, and double plays. He also holds the records for most hits, runs batted in, and runs scored by a third baseman. At the end of the 2018 season, Beltré jointly became one of the last two active MLB players to have played in the 1990s along with former Rangers teammate Bartolo Colón.

Beltré’s signature home run swing included a drop to one knee when connecting with a breaking ball, particularly notable during Game 5 of the 2011 World Series in an at bat against Cardinals ace pitcher Chris Carpenter.

While Beltré is known for his wild defense, his style is somewhat unorthodox. Master infield instructor and former Rangers manager Ron Washington, stated that the proper way to approach a ground ball to third base is to “flow through” the ball. After the Rangers signed Beltré to a five-year contract before the 2011 season, they sought to improve his skill by pairing him with Washington. He opined that Beltré’s technique is wrong because he stops before catching and then throws in spite of relying very little on the positioning of his feet. Beltré explains that his arm was so strong that early in his career he was making so many throwing errors, and that by planting his feet he was able to improve his accuracy to the point where he is able to pivot and release with uncanny precision from any angle without the proper foot positioning that is so critical for other third basemen.

Another major league manager, Joe Maddon, compared the unique style of Beltré’s defensive play to Ozzie Smith’s “flair at shortstop,” Stan Musial’s “coiled batting stance” and the way Steve Carlton wrapped his left wrist before releasing a slider. Commented Maddon further on Beltré’s defense, “There’s a lot of guys that did things unique to them that weren’t out of the Spalding Guide. They did things you wouldn’t teach, and if somebody else tried to do it, they would not be very good.” Commented Rangers bench coach Steve Buechele, “he’s not your most conventional third baseman, he does things his own way and has developed his own style over his career but there’s something to be said for his hand-eye coordination and his hands. It’s remarkable what he does. … He’s a super smart player, knows where to position himself.”

Beltré has become known for the joy and the sense of playfulness that he exhibits on the field. He has a routine with Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus on pop flies where both men put their arms up to catch the ball.[78] During a game against the Red Sox on June 26, 2016, Sandy León hit a foul ball which landed in the first row in the stands, just out of Beltré’s reach. However, instead of returning immediately to the infield, he reached very close to the ball in a motion, pretending, as if he were going to take it away from the fan who caught León’s foul ball.[79]

Beltré is also known for his dislike of anyone touching the top of his head, which teammates have done frequently, especially Elvis Andrus, but it was a tendency discovered by former teammate, Felix Hernandez. Before the game where he recorded his 3,000th hit, he let his teammates touch his head. Much to his dismay, the act has turned into a game, inducing repeat offenders such as his infield partner Andrus.[80] Beltré also dislikes Gatorade showers. After a game in which he hit a grand slam that provided the decisive runs in a 5–2 win over the Athletics on August 15, 2016, he took a broom from the groundskeepers closet and began combing an area of infield dirt. Still, Rougned Odor trotted to Beltré carrying a bucket filled with Gatorade, and in his attempt to drench Beltré, missed him with the launch of the column of the liquid.

Actively involved in the community, Beltré has contributed significantly to humanitarian acts in the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex such as Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation, Texas Rangers RBI program, the I Love Baseball program, which operates in the Dominican Republic, and the Baseball Tomorrow Fund. Further, he has donated to Dave Valle’s Esperanza International as well as foundations established by other major-league players, including Robinson Chirinos, Eddie Guardado, Joakim Soria and Michael Young.