Texas Rangers: Can Adrian Beltre be the Greatest Third Baseman Ever?

Sep 29, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre (29) hits an rbi double during the fourth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 29, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre (29) hits an rbi double during the fourth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /

Can Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre end his career as the greatest third baseman of all time? It is not as far fetched as it may seem.

Yes, the argument can absolutely be made that Texas Rangers star Adrian Beltre might become the best all-around third baseman of all time. You can shake your head in disbelief but Beltre has already snuck into the conversation right under our noses.

The Mike Schmidt and Brooks Robinson fans of the world are furiously shaking their heads by now. However, once again the metrics are beginning to not only tell a story but paint a clear picture on the greatness of Beltre. When we compare Beltre’s offensive numbers to the top third baseman of all time the picture starts to become clearer.


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As you can see Beltre already compares or has surpassed current and soon to be Hall of Famers offensively. Among third baseman Beltre is 4th all-time in HR’s, 3rd in RBI’s, 3rd in Hits and 2nd in doubles.  He also has a higher career Avg than Schmidt, Robinson and Mathews.

What also needs to be taken into consideration is the fact that Beltre is still performing at a high level offensively. Beltre hit .300 with 32 HR’S and 104 RBI in 2016 for the Rangers. At 37 years old he looks to still have a lot left in the tank.

Beltre is almost guaranteed to hit some major offensive milestones in 2017. The biggest milestone being the 58 hits needed to join the exclusive 3000 hit club. Along with that he should also join the 450 HR, 1600 RBI and 600 double club. He even has a solid chance to hit the 1500 run mark. By the end of the 2017 season Beltre should also hold the all-time record for RBI by a third baseman.

Mike Schmidt and Chipper Jones are often regarded as the best offensive third baseman of all time. Beltre signed a two year extension with the Rangers in 2016 which gives him at least two more years. Let’s say that he only averaged 20HR’s, 70 RBI, 150 Hits and 70 Runs over those two years. That would give him 485HR’s, 1721 RBI’s, 3242 Hits and 1568 Runs scored. That would give him more HR’s, RBI’S and Hits than Jones. This would also put him ahead of Schmidt in RBI’s, Hits and Runs. He would also be the all-time leader in Hits and RBI for a third baseman. This is all assuming that we see significantly lower offensive output from Beltre over the next two years. This is also assuming that he retires at the end of those two years. There is a good chance that he might hang on for another year or so after that as a DH. If that is the case then he is almost certain to join the 500 HR club. He would also more than likely surpass Brett in all time doubles by a third baseman as well.

The Mike Schmidt faithful may also cling to the MVP argument. Schmidt won three MVP awards with the Phillies. However, some can argue that Schmidt simply did not compete against the same level of talent as Beltre. Schmidt won the NL MVP in 1980, ‘81 and ’86. His best offensive season came in 1980. Beltre has never won an MVP award. His best season came in 2004. Let’s take a look at both of those seasons.


As you can see both players had great seasons but Beltre’s was a bit better offensively. Beltre actually finished 2nd with these numbers to a guy named Bonds. He again missed out on an MVP in 2012 when he finished 3rd. That year he was up against Cabrera who won the Triple Crown and Mike Trout. Schmidt also won an MVP during a strike shortened season in 1981. In 1986 Schmidt barely beat out Glenn Davis for the MVP. No player in the top 5 MVP voting in 1986 had a higher BA than .290 or more than 175 hits. Also, no player in the top 5 in voting scored 100 runs or hit more than 37 HR’s in 1986. Schmidt was deserving of the award in ’86 but the competition for the award was simply not the same.

Offensively you can see that Beltre has certainly made the case for the best all-time. I will say it now that Brooks Robinson is the best defensive third baseman of all time. However, numbers show that Beltre does rate higher than Schmidt. Below are the career defensive metrics of Beltre compared to Robinson and Schmidt.

PlayerGamesFielding %ErrorsDouble PlaysGold Gloves
Texas Rangers
Texas Rangers /

Texas Rangers

As you can see Robinson is clearly the best not only out of these three but of all time. You will notice that Beltre has a higher career fielding % than Schmidt and has committed fewer errors while playing in over 400 more games. Gold glove totals are what some people will look to cling to as a last ditch effort to defend Schmidt. However, once again the facts can validate or dismantle any perception. Schmidt won 10 gold gloves in his career. However, in 1980,’82 and ’84 Schmidt’s fielding % was actually below the league average. He won gold gloves in each of those years. His 1984 fielding % was actually the third lowest for a Gold Glove third baseman in the history of baseball. In 1985 his fielding % simply met the league average.

Beltre only has 5 gold gloves but he has also been in competition with the likes of Eric Chavez, Manny Machado and Evan Longoria. Beltre has also won 2 Platinum gloves given out to the league’s best all- around defensive player regardless of position. He has also finished above the league average in fielding % during gold glove years.

Let’s unveil the final portrait. When Beltre’s contract is up in two years he will probably have the following rankings among third baseman:

  • Most RBI by any 3rd baseman in history
  • Most Hits by any 3rd baseman in history
  • Second Most Doubles by any 3rd baseman in history
  • Third most Homeruns by any 3rd baseman in history
  • Third Most Runs scored by any 3rd baseman in history.

If Beltre even signs a 1 year deal as a DH after the 2018 season he will only add to his Hall of Fame career. He will more than likely become only the 2nd player in the history of baseball with 500 HR’s, 3000 Hits and 600 Doubles. The other was the great Hank Aaron.

Next: Unexpected pretenders for 2017

Adrian Beltre has managed to put together an all-time great career while flying under the radar. Whenever he finally does decide to hang up his cleats the case for him being the best all-around third baseman of all time will have not only been made but probably closed.