Carlos Beltran is having a resurgent season at 39 years of age for the New York Yankees. He has a slash line of .277/.313/.554, with 16 home runs, 44 RBIs and a 129 wRC+ (at the time of this writing). This year he cemented his place in history as well, by hitting his 400th career home run. He has put himself in very selective company with that home run, as he became only the fourth switch hitter in history to accomplish that feat, joining Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle and Eddie Murray, and future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones. (Teammate Mark Teixeira is hot on his tail with 397 home runs, although he is on the disabled list).
That is elite company, but does Beltran have a Hall of Fame induction ahead of him? And, which cap will he wear, if he does go to the Hall? Let’s look at the numbers.
Beltran has slashed .280/.354/.492, with 408 home runs, 1,487 RBIs, a .211 ISO, 311 stolen bases, a 120 wRC+ and a 67.2 WAR for his career. For perspective, let’s look at the aforementioned three switch hitters.
First of all, let’s take Mickey Mantle out of the equation; Mantle had an out of this world career. He slashed .298/.421/.557, with 536 home runs, 1,509 RBIs (which are actually similar to Beltran’s), a .259 ISO, and a 170 career wRC+. At his best, Mantle put up a 217 wRC+, and his career low is 116, his rookie year. He had a 112.3 WAR for his career. Mantle, at the height of his career, was arguably the best player on the field, no matter where the field was and what team he was playing; almost no one can compare to that.
Chipper Jones had the second-best career of the exclusive 400 home run switch hitter club. He slashed an astonishing .303/.401/.529, with a higher walk rate (14.2 percent) than strikeout rate (13.3 percent). He hit 468 home runs, drove in 1,623 runs, had a 141 career wRC+, a .226 ISO and a career 84.6 WAR; the lifelong Atlanta Brave has Hall of Fame written all over him.
Beltran actually had very similar numbers to Hall of Famer Eddie Murray. Steady Eddie slashed .287/.359/.476, with 504 home runs, 1,917 RBIs, had a 127 wRC+, a .189 ISO, and a 72 career WAR. All in all, that is very similar, albeit Murray hit almost 100 more home runs, and had 3,255 hits. Interestingly enough, Murray is the only one of the four to have eclipsed the 3,000 hit mark. Jones had 2,726 hits, Beltran is third with 2,516 hits, and Mantle has the least hits of the group, with 2,415.
Beltran’s numbers absolutely stand up with these three other players, and he should have serious Hall of Fame consideration
So, if he does get elected, which team should he represent in Cooperstown? The choice is easily boiled down to two — the New York Mets, and the Kansas City Royals; he spent seven years with each (more like six-and-a-half with each, but I digress), both of which were during his prime years. He has stated his desire to go in as a Met, and that would be the correct choice.
In Kansas City, he slashed .287/.352/.483 with 123 home runs, 516 RBIs and a 111 OPS+. In Queens, he slashed .280/.369/.500, with 149 home runs, 559 RBIs, and a 129 OPS+, all while winning back-to-back-to-back Gold Glove awards from 2006 to 2008. He was simply better as a Met than as a Royal, and, should he be elected into the Hall of Fame, it should be as a Met.
In Mets history, he has the sixth highest wRC+ among all players with at least 500 plate appearances. Beltran is one of the best players to don the orange and blue in their entire history.
Mets fans often (unfairly) remember Beltran for one infamous strikeout,(Mets fans, click that link at your own risk) but he should be remembered for countless good memories, such as this. It’s also worth noting, despite that strikeout, that Beltran put up an OPS of 1.054 in that fateful NLCS with three home runs. In 52 career postseason games, Beltran has slashed .332/.441/.674 with 16 home runs, 40 RBIs and more walks than strikeouts.
At his best, Beltran was one of the game’s purest, most fluid athletes. He brought a rare blend of speed, power, and defense before age and injuries sapped most of his raw athleticism. As he puts the finishing touches on an outstanding career, Carlos Beltran should certainly be considered a future Hall of Famer.