I’m not so sure the Texas Rangers really needed Adrian Beltre. Let’s face it – their offense wasn’t exactly in rough shape leading into the 2011 season. They also had a more than viable third baseman in their back pocket named Michael Young. But as Beltre, the now 13-year vet hung around on the free-agent block, somebody had to scoop him up.
Adrian had built the reputation as a guy you couldn’t trust come contract time. After hitting .344 with 48 homers and 121 RBIs for the Dodgers in 2004, he never came close to duplicating those numbers for the not-so-fortunate Seattle Mariners. In fact, batting average wise, .276 was the best Beltre hit during his time in the Pacific north-west.
But in 2010, Theo Epstein and the Red Sox took a flyer on the still heavily talented third baseman. The move paid huge dividends, as Beltre had an all-star year hitting .321 and eclipsing the 100 RBI mark, all the while playing his typical brand of gold glove type defense.
The Red Sox decided they wanted to go in another direction in 2011. They made a run at Carl Crawford and landed him. And with the money they had invested in their new outfielder, there wouldn’t be enough cheese to satisfy Scott Boras and his third baseman.
The Texas Rangers, with roughly $100 million they had burning in their pockets after Cliff Lee took his show to the Philadelphia, took a chance with Beltre, signing him to a five-year $80 million deal. Michael Young was disgusted, and a potential rift in the Rangers’ locker-room seemed like a definite possibility.
Texas’ gamble appears to have paid off. With the help of Beltre’s all-star season, where he hit .296 with 32 homers and 105 RBIs, the Rangers were able to outlast the pesky Anaheim Angels, and secure another AL West crown.
And if that wasn’t good enough, Adrian Beltre’s performance at Tropicana Field on Tuesday probably made it good enough. The Texas third sacker hit solo home runs in three consecutive at-bats, helping his club earn a series-clinching 4-3 victory in Tampa against the Rays.
Rays’ starter Jeremy Hellickson delivered a solid performance, but Beltre pulverized three fastballs deep into the bleachers to end the Ray’s season.
In a year where pitching performances dominated headlines, and runs were often scarce, Texas without a doubt hit a home run landing Beltre. Throwing this guy in-between Michael Young, Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz and Mike Napoli, creates an ungodly stress on opposing pitchers. And unless you’re constantly making the perfect pitch, somebody in this lineup will eventually hurt you.
Texas scored 16 runs in their three victories in the series against a very formidable Rays’ pitching staff. With the theoretical absence of Beltre, you can’t assume they would’ve had the same amount of success, especially in yesterdays game.
A penny saved is a penny earned. Well, that’s what I hear the old-timers say anyway. Nolan Ryan would qualify as an old-timer, and he didn’t seem to take this saying to heart when he signed Beltre. But in this instance I guess you’d have to say, screw this stupid saying. Texas is heading back to the ALCS once again, looking to finish the job they failed to do a year ago.