Bill Baer

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Jeff Bagwell, Ivan Rodriguez, Tim Raines inducted into the Hall of Fame

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Former first baseman Jeff Bagwell, catcher Ivan Rodriguez, and outfielder Tim Raines were inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York on Sunday. Former commissioner Bud Selig and executive John Schuerholz were also enshrined via the Veterans Committee.

Bagwell, 49, earned 86.2 percent of the vote in his seventh year on the ballot. Over parts of 15 seasons, all with the Astros, he hit .297/.408/.540 with 449 home runs and 1,529 RBI. He won the National League Rookie of the Year Award in 1991 and the NL Most Valuble Player Award in the strike-shortened 1994 season. Defensive stats, particularly during his playing days, aren’t very illuminating, but Bagwell was viewed as one of the best defensive first basemen during his career. He also had surprising speed for a first baseman, stealing 202 bases in his career, including 31 in 1997 and 30 in ’99. Bagwell was famously traded when he was a prospect back in 1990 from the Red Sox to the Astros in exchange for reliever Larry Andersen. Bagwell mentioned Andersen in his speech, saying, “I thank Larry for being such a great reliever that the Red Sox wanted you.”

Rodriguez, 45, received 76 percent of the vote in his first appearance on the ballot. The 14-time All-Star played 13 of his 21 seasons with the Rangers, while spending five with the Tigers, two with the Nationals, and one each with the Yankees, Astros, and Marlins, winning the World Series in 2003 with the Marlins. Across those 21 seasons, Rodriguez hit .296/.334/.464 with 311 home runs and 1,332 RBI. He won the 1999 American League MVP Award, helping the Rangers reach the postseason. Rodriguez was one of the most feared catchers against whom to run on, as he threw out 46 percent of attempted base-stealers.

Raines, 57, got 86 percent of the vote in his 10th season on the ballot. He received increasing support as the public and sportswriters grew to accept Sabermetrics. Jonah Keri has famously been Raines’ most ardent supporter, having argued his case for most of the past decade which helped increase awareness both of Sabermetrics and of Raines’ production. Over parts of 23 seasons, 13 of which were spent with the Expos, Raines hit .294/.385/.425 with 808 stolen bases, the fifth-most in baseball history. He made the All-Star team seven times and won the 1996 World Series with the Yankees.

The 2018 Hall of Fame ballot will bring back Trevor Hoffman, Vladimir Guerrero, Edgar Martinez, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling, Manny Ramirez, Larry Walker, Fred McGriff, Jeff Kent, Garry Sheffield, Billy Wagner, and Sammy Sosa. Newcomers include Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Scott Rolen, Andruw Jones, Johan Santana, Johnny Damon, and Omar Vizquel.

Adrian Beltre strengthens already-strong Hall of Fame case with 3,000th hit

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Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre just notched his 3,000th hit, which puts him in rarefied air. He’s the 31st player in baseball history to join the 3,000-hit club and only the second third baseman (having played at least 75 percent of his career games at the position) to do so along with Wade Boggs. This didn’t exactly sneak up on us; coming into the season, Beltre’s milestone was bound to happen as long as he stayed relatively healthy, entering the year with 2,942 hits. He got there despite missing the first two months of the season with a strained right calf.

Though achieving 3,000 hits garners a tremendous amount of respect, it still seems like he’s underrated. It’s not just the hits that make him good, it’s the power. He has 454 homers and 605 doubles in his career. The only other players with at least 400 homers and 600 doubles are Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Albert Pujols, David Ortiz, Stan Musial, Carl Yastrzemski, and Cal Ripken, Jr. All Hall of Famers, or should-be Hall of Famers.

Defense still isn’t nearly as easily quantified as offense, which may help explain why Beltre flies under the radar much of the time. He’s a five-time Gold Glove Award winner and that seems light. He won one last year at the age of 37, becoming the oldest player to win the award since Brooks Robinson in 1975. In doing so, Beltre had to beat out arguably the best defensive third baseman in baseball in Manny Machado.

How much has defense added to Beltre’s value? According to Baseball Reference, he’s saved 227 runs above average over his career, adding about 28 wins. As a result, Beltre has 92.4 career Wins Above Replacement. He’s one of 28 players in baseball history with at least 90 WAR. Only four of those 28 are third basemen: Mike Schmidt (106.6), Eddie Mathews (96.2), Beltre, and Boggs (91.1).

What also makes Beltre stand out is how productive he’s been while aging. Everyone remembers his 48-homer season back in 2004 as a 25-year-old with the Dodgers. While he never quite matched that season, he has overall been more productive in his 30’s than when he was younger. From age 19 to 29, he hit .271/.327/.459 with 242 home runs and 862 RBI in 6,400 plate appearances (HR every 26.4 PA and an RBI every 7.42 PA). From age 30 to 38, he hit .305/.355/.507 with 211 home runs and 740 RBI in 5,055 plate appearances (HR every 24 PA and an RBI every 6.8 PA). Beltre accrued 41.2 WAR through age 29 and 51.2 WAR since.

Last season, at 37, Beltre hit 32 homers and knocked in 104 runs. There are only 21 other player-seasons since 1901 in which a player hit at least 30 homers and drove in at least 100 runs at age 37 or older. The list includes Alfonso Soriano, Andres Galarraga, Babe Ruth (twice), Barry Bonds (twice), Carlton Fisk, David Ortiz (four times), Edgar Martinez, Frank Thomas, Fred McGriff (twice), Hank Aaron, Hank Sauer, Mike Schmidt, Moises Alou, and Rafael Palmeiro (twice). If we add another constraint, 30 doubles (Beltre had 31 last season), the list shrinks to nine. Of those nine, only five also hit .300 or better and Beltre was one of those five.

Beltre is having yet another strong season. Entering today’s action, he was hitting .310/.387/.538. He doesn’t and won’t have enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title, it’s still impressive. Since the mound was lowered in 1969, there are only 18 player-seasons in which a player 38 years old or older hit .300 or better with enough PA to qualify for the batting title. Barry Bonds, David Ortiz, Edgar Martinez, Eddie Murray, and Jeff Kent are the only players to slash .300/.375/.500 or better at the age of 38 or older.

In Hall of Fame discussions, players are often referred to as having been compilers, meaning that they played a lot of seasons, giving them more opportunities to add to their counting stats. Beltre played 20 seasons, which is longer than most players, even All-Star-caliber players. But Beltre wasn’t just a compiler. In 10 of those 20 seasons, he accrued at least five WAR which is typically an All-Star-caliber season and often enough to propel one into MVP discussions. Beltre racked up at least seven WAR in four seasons as well. He had both peak and longevity, which is typical of inner circle Hall of Famers.

Savor witnessing Beltre’s 3,000th hit, folks. You are witnessing not just one of the best third basemen of all time, but one of the best players, period. He’ll be properly enshrined in Cooperstown soon enough.

Adrian Beltre joins the 3,000 hit club

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Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre became the 31st member of the 3,000 hit club on Sunday while facing the Orioles. With his team trailing 4-0 in the bottom of the fourth inning, he hit a 3-0 fastball off of Wade Miley for a double, putting runners on second and third with one out. He’s the first Dominican-born player to reach 3,000 career hits.

The game halted for a few minutes following Beltre’s double. A banner unfurled in center field and a graphic was revealed in right field, celebrating his achievement. Meanwhile, Beltre was congratulated by his teammates on the field. His family came onto the field as well, hugging him while the crowd at Globe Life Park continued to cheer.

Beltre, 38, entered the game batting .310/.387/.538 with nine home runs and 36 RBI in 212 plate appearances. He missed nearly two months to begin the season due to a strained right calf, delaying his much anticipated achievement.

Over parts of 20 years, Beltre has made four All-Star Games and won four Silver Slugger Awards, five Gold Glove Awards, and two Platinum Glove Awards. He’s mashed 454 home runs along with 604 doubles in his storied career.

We’ll have more on Beltre to come, including video of his 3,000th hit and a career retrospective.