In a game in which many people were focused on Yu Darvish’s dazzling return to the Texas Rangers rotation, there was another defining moment in a career full of so many defining moments, that went somewhat unnoticed.
In the bottom of the first inning Saturday night, Adrian Beltre fought through a nine pitch at bat against Juan Nicasio, which resulted in two-run homer to straightaway center field. With those two runs driven in, Beltre became the 54th player in MLB history, and just the fourth third baseman to collect 1,500 RBI’s over his career; the others: Mike Schmidt (1,595), George Brett (1596), and Chipper Jones (1,623).
When asked about the milestone Beltre said, “It just means I’ve been playing for a long time.”
Over his 19 year major league career, Beltre has always been a grind-it-out type of player. Whether in Los Angeles, Seattle, Boston, or Texas, Beltre is the teammate that everyone wants to be around. Even in his 19th season his work ethic and his toughness are unmatched in baseball. He plays through nagging injuries, never asks for a day off, and he is easily considered one of the best to ever play the position.
There is something to be said about longevity. It’s something most of the great players have in common. At 37 years old the Texas Rangers are still betting on Beltre, as they inked him to a two-year extension to keep him in Arlington until 2018.
And why wouldn’t they? Beltre has been somewhat of a late bloomer. After coming to Texas in 2011, he’s been an All-Star starter three times, lead them to a World Series, and batted close to or over .300 every season. Beltre loves hitting in his home ballpark. He’s one of four players to hit for the cycle three times in their career, and all of them have come in Texas.
The fans in Texas love him. Between innings the Rangers do a “U Can’t Touch This Cam” where fans on camera try to touch Beltre’s bald head swaying back and forth on the videoboard, a typical challenge for Ranger teammates. Though he’s only played a fraction of his professional seasons in Texas, he’s considered one of the best Rangers of all time, because of what he’s contributed to the franchise on and off the field.
If Beltre continues to produce for the Rangers in big ways over the next few seasons, expect him to break Chipper Jones’s 1,623 RBI mark with ease, ask for another extension and continue his career as one of baseball’s “untouchables.”