The Toronto Blue Jays have a player who is all about having fun in Munenori Kawasaki. They have inspiring role models like Mark Buehrle and fantastic players like Josh Donaldson. Adrian Beltre is all of those things, and that makes it almost impossible to dislike him. Adrian Beltre is the face of the Texas Rangers franchise, and he'll be looking to lead them to a victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.
Search Fangraphs for articles about Adrian Beltre, and you'll come across several written at the end of 2014 about how Adrian Beltre is not showing signs of slowing down, despite his age (36). This year, he got off to a slow start with the bat, and a thumb injury at the end of May probably didn't help. But a .318/.376/.509 line in the second half shows us the Beltre isn't done mashing yet. As a matter of fact, Beltre's hard hit percentage and contact rates suggest he hasn't slowed down at all, but has simply been a bit unlucky this season.
More recently, Eno Sarris did a spectacular article on Adrian Beltre's hitting, making it hard to add further relevant thoughts on Beltre's ability to hit. Adrian Beltre, the best active player in MLB without a World Series ring, is an aggressive hitter who can hit any pitch out of the ballpark. He'll lay off changeups and curveballs, he's improved his ability to hit sliders, and he mashes lefties. At this point of his career, Beltre's biggest "weakness" might be good fastballs. Weakness in this case meaning a pitcher has the option to get the at bat over with quickly, given Beltre's aggressiveness against fastballs.
Beltre is also an excellent clubhouse leader, with no real controversies to his name. Try to look for one on Google and you'll find things like:
-Beltre getting ejected for things his teammates yelled from the dugout (his first ejection in five years)
-Beltre playing peacekeeper in a Mariners dugout fight
-Beltre's house being the target of a burglar
Beltre says he was furious that the veteran confronted him publicly over a decision that he had made in the field — a decision that was correct. According to Beltre, the Dodgers’ infield coach supported him in a meeting afterward, and the veteran apologized.
"You don’t talk to me like that," Beltre recalls telling the veteran. "The next time you talk to me like that, we’re going to have problems."
The point of the story?
When Beltre confronts a teammate, he will not do it publicly. He will convey his message privately, lest he embarrass a teammate the way he was embarrassed with the Dodgers.
That's from a very interesting read by Ken Rosenthal, and it contains a lot of extremely high praise for the Rangers veteran. Beltre's humility is also admirable:
"That means I’ve been playing for a long time," Beltre told USA TODAY Sports when asked about his 400th home run. "That’s all it means. When you’re playing for a long time, you accumulate numbers, and that’s what happened to me."
That quote is from this piece by Ted Berg. There's also talk about his Hall of Fame case, but I think there should be little doubt that Adrian Beltre is going to get in.
The fun stuff
As much as an outsider might appreciate Adrian Beltre, Rangers fans, naturally, love him even more. When I asked the nice folks at Lone Star Ball about their favourite Beltre moments, I was overwhelmed by all sorts of GIFs and links.
Here's what user "Jus-10" had to say:
I guess if you are looking for specific moments, it’s kind of hard to help you out. He literally amazes us every day. He makes the impossible look ho hum.
Here are some of the highlights, though:
The relationship between Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltre:
Nice little improvisation:
Facing off with the fearsome Evan Gattis:
Playing with, and losing to Miguel Cabrera:
Beltre can't keep his staredowns up as long as Jose Bautista can:
For me, Adrian Beltre is the ultimate role model in baseball. Be serious when you need to be serious, but have fun when you can. Lead by example, not by yelling at your teammates. Unless they touch your head, of course. That stuff is unacceptable.