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2023 MLB Hall of Fame: Carlos Beltran’s Case

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Playing for seven teams in 20 seasons, Carlos Beltran put together one of the more historically relevant careers. After winning AL Rookie of the Year in 1999, Beltran made nine All-Star Games, won three Gold Gloves, and won two Silver Sluggers. Beltran is a World Series champion, and he had a lifetime 1.021 OPS in the playoffs. Let’s take a look at Carlos Beltran’s chances of joining the MLB Hall of Fame.

Carlos Beltran’s Voting History for the MLB Hall of Fame

Beltran is entering his first year on the ballot after retiring after the 2017 season. He will need to secure 5.0% of the vote to stay on the ballot for 2024. If he gets 75.0% of the vote, he will be elected to the Hall of Fame.

MLB Hall of Fame Case: Career Peak

It’s October 2004. The Houston Astros played at a 111-win pace since August 1. Beltran has been key in this 40-18 burst to make the playoffs. He has slugged .531, and he stole 22 bases without being caught. Despite playing just 90 games in the NL, Beltran finished 12th in MVP voting. He then had one of the best two-week stretches in MLB history.

In his playoff debut, Beltran mashed a homer, stole a bag, and got on base in all four plate appearances. After an 0-for-5 in Game 2, he launched another home run and stole third after a double. In Game 4, he got on twice in an Astros loss. He saved his best for last with a four-hit, two-homer Game 5 to send the Braves home. He is the only player in MLB history to do that in a winner-take-all game. For the series, he slashed .455/.500/1.091.

In the NLCS, the Cardinals got the memo and began to give Beltran the Barry Bonds treatment. Beltran walked eight times including three in Game 2. He homered in the first four games, going 7-for-13 with a ludicrous .539/.667/1.539. He “cooled off” in the final three games, drawing three walks, stealing four bases, and getting on base at a 42.9% clip. For the series, he slashed .417/.563/.958. He is the only player in MLB history to hit four home runs in multiple playoff series in the same season.

That qualifies as a peak.

MLB Hall of Fame Case: Carlos Beltran in His Prime

Beltran’s prime has two parts. He began with Kansas City, racking up 24.5 WAR in his final 5.5 seasons. He won the Rookie of the Year, made an All-Star Game (after he was traded in 2004), and was ninth in 2003 AL MVP voting. He hit 22 home runs and stole 27 bases in four of five full seasons. He led the AL in stolen base conversion rate in 2001 and 2003, and he was second in the AL in power-speed in 2002 and 2003. However, some in the baseball community did not believe the production could translate to a winning product.

Beltran immediately helped the Astros to the playoffs in 2004, putting up 4.5 WAR in 90 games. In 2005, he moved to the Mets and established himself as a premier player. En route to the 2006 NLCS, Beltran had an 8.2-WAR season, finished fourth in MVP voting, and mashed a career-best 41 home runs. He hit three more in the NLCS. Beltran tacked on four more All-Star nods, MVP votes four times, and 27.4 WAR before moving to the AL in 2014.

MLB Hall of Fame Case: Beltran’s Legacy

Beltran’s legacy is not as simple. He went 0-for-3 with a walk in Game 7 of the 2004 NLCS. The Astros went to the World Series without him the next season. In Beltran’s tour-de-force of a 2006 season, he capped it off with a 1-for-4 in Game 7 of the NLCS. Down two with the bases loaded and two out in the bottom of the ninth, Beltran watched as strike three crossed the plate.

As much as fans want to remember the positives of a player’s career, Beltran has this moment that overshadows his career as a playoff hero (15 doubles, 16 home runs, 11 steals, slashed .307/.412/.609). They also remember Beltran’s final season with the Astros. Other players have had rough final seasons, but Beltran won the World Series with the sign-stealing Astros. He was the only player named in the commissioner’s report, and he stepped down from the Mets’ manager position after the story broke.

2023 MLB Hall of Fame Likelihood

Beltran should be a Hall of Famer. He had 70 WAR, racked up 2,725 hits, hit 435 home runs, stole 312 bases, and was a historically relevant playoff performer. He was a strong defensive player in center field, finishing seventh all-time in total zone runs as a center fielder. He had 12 seasons with 20 home runs and six seasons with 25 steals. He narrowly missed a 40-40 season in 2004.

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However, voters could hold his World Series against him. They could also hold his 2004 or 2006 NLCS against him as he came up short in Game 7. It may be unfair, but the voters tend to land on the ruthless side of voting.

Beltran probably won’t make the Hall of Fame this year – perhaps as punishment for being a member of the 2017 Astros. However, he is the best bet of the crop of first-year players to make the Hall of Fame at some point. He could join former teammate Adrian Beltre as a 2024 inductee or former teammate Ichiro Suzuki as a 2025 inductee.

Let us know if you think Carlos Beltran deserves enshrinement in the MLB Hall of Fame in the comments below!

Main image credit Embed from Getty Images

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Ryan Potts is an avid football and baseball fan. He covers the NFL and Major League Baseball, focusing on the Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Braves.