We’re a few short days away from 2018 so it’s a good time to look back at the top 25 baseball stories of 2017. Some of them took place on the field, some of them off the field and some of them were more akin to tabloid drama. No matter where the story broke, however, these were the stories baseball fans were talking about most this past year.
On November 1, Carlos Beltran did the one thing he had never done in his 20-year big league career: he won a World Series. On November 13 he announced his retirement.
Beltran, the 1999 Rookie of the Year and a nine-time All-Star, played for the Royals, Mets, Yankees, Cardinals, Giants, Rangers and did two separate tours with the Houston Astros. Over the course of his career he put up a line of .279/.350/.486 with 435 homers and 312 stolen bases. An elite defensive center fielder for much of his career, Beltran took home three Gold Glove awards and could’ve won more if Gold Glove voting was approached a bit more objectively than it is. He was a two-time Silver Slugger Award winner as well.
In later years, Beltran became a corner outfielder and a veteran team leader, mentoring younger players while with the Yankees, Rangers and Astros. He was the winner of the 2013 Roberto Clemente Award, which honored both his leadership and his charitable and community contributions.
Beltran will probably make the Hall of Fame and he probably should. While he never won an MVP Award, his candidacy is a strong one when you think of him as an all-around great player as opposed to an all-time great in any one capacity. Fortunately for Beltran’s candidacy, he finishes his career at a time when, more than ever, the media and fans have come to appreciate the value of the all-around player more than they ever had in the past. When you listen to baseball writers talk now, they usually say, “yeah, Carlos Beltran is a Hall of Famer.” And I think that will carry the day for him, maybe not in his first year on the ballot, but at some point not long after.
Beltran was not the only one to call it quits in 2017. Among baseball’s other departures:
- Brennan Boesch: Folks in Detroit have a few fond memories;
- Cory Luebke: You can come back from one Tommy John surgery. Two is a bit tougher;
- Jeff Francoeur: Never as good as his press, never as bad as the shade thrown at him and a really nice guy;
- Nolan Reimold: He has seven children. He’s probably more tired in retirement than after a game;
- Joe Beimel: Played a bit part in my greatest in-person baseball memory;
- Jeremy Guthrie: Led the league in losses twice. It takes a pretty good pitcher to do that, actually. I mean that sincerely;
- Jered Weaver: Led the league in wins twice and, for a short time, was one of baseball’s best pitchers;
- Paul Janish: A Houston native and Rice University alum will join the Rice coaching staff in 2018;
- Joe Nathan: Number eight all-time in career saves;
- Will Venable: Stole a lot of bases and didn’t get caught much. Hit a lot of triples too. A nice player to have on your roster.
- Ryan Vogelsong: Missed four full seasons before coming back with the Giants in 2011. Got himself a World Series ring to boot;
- Bronson Arroyo: A reliable and durable workhorse for most of his career. A key part of Boston’s historic 2004 team. A surefire first ballot inductee to the Lovable Flakey Dude Hall of Fame; and
- Matt Cain: Three World Series rings, an excellent postseason track record and, for a time, one of baseball’s best. Consistent as all get-out but often plagued with poor run support. Went out with a wonderful final career start.
Happy trails, gentlemen. Here’s wishing you the best in your post-playing endeavors.