It was a day of mixed emotions for Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre. With Sunday’s start, Beltre became the all-time leader in games played among Dominicans. He celebrated by getting ejected from the contest.
Let’s ignore that last part for a second, and focus on Beltre’s accomplishment. It’s quite the feat. The 36-year-old Beltre has now played in 2,528 games in the majors. He passed Julio Franco, who played in 2,527 games over his 23-year career.
Beltre, obviously, should be able to put some distance between the top spot moving forward. He not only will finish out this season with the Rangers, but the club already picked up his option for 2016. While injuries sapped his production this year, there’s a chance Beltre will play beyond 2016 if he can improve on his performance moving forward.
As Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News notes, Beltre, who rarely acknowledges his own accomplishments, was pretty happy to hit this milestone.
“I’m proud of it,” Beltre said earlier this week. “I’m accomplishing things I never even thought about. It means I’ve been healthy and able to compete for a long time. But the numbers, I don’t think about the numbers. I just want to a win a World Series.”
Beltre’s quote highlights some of the underrated aspects of his career. Beltre was promoted to the majors at age-19, and pretty much held his own at the majors the following season. He put up some pretty productive years with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but didn’t really arrive in the eye of the national media until he hit .334/.388/.629, with 48 home runs in 2004.
Beltre signed a five-year, $64 million deal with the Seattle Mariners that offseason, and was considered somewhat of a bust in Seattle. That wasn’t necessarily the case, though. Safeco Field was hell on hitters around the time Beltre was there, making his solid power numbers even more impressive in retrospect. We can also blame the park for his poor batting averages during this time. Despite the offensive issues, he was always regarded for his stellar defense at third.
In 2010, Beltre signed a one-year, make-or-break deal with the Boston Red Sox, and hit the snot out of the ball in a friendly environment. He joined the Texas Rangers a year later, and has basically been an elite performer with the club.
Many believe Beltre will have an outside shot at making the Hall of Fame once he retires. While reaching this milestone doesn’t mean he’ll gain extra votes, it’s a fun part of his candidacy, and maybe should be taken into consideration by the voters when the time comes.
Beltre managed to celebrate the accomplishment Sunday by getting ejected from the contest. In the fifth inning, Beltre disagreed with a strike call from the dugout, and was sent home early by umpire Adam Hamari.
There was some confusion after the game, as Beltre said teammate Price Fielder was actually leading the calls from the dugout, but Beltre was the one ejected. Hamari also allegedly said “84 … Beltre” when tossing him out of the game. Fielder wears No. 84, not Beltre. It was only the third time in his 18-year career Beltre has been tossed from a game.
Though Beltre was sent to the showers, he wound up getting the last laugh. Beltre not only set the record for most games played by a Dominican, but the Rangers pulled out the 4-2 win. With the victory, the team holds the second wild card spot in the American League.
The ejection shouldn’t overshadow the positives, though. Beltre’s team is in contention again, and he set a pretty impressive record. Beltre has quietly put together one of the most impressive careers in recent memory.
Setting the record for games played by a Dominican player will hopefully get more fans to notice how great he’s been for such a long period of time. An already interesting Hall of Fame case may have gained a few supporters today.
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