Get It Right the First Time

I haven’t made any secret of my qualms with the BBWAA. The organization has proven itself inconsistent, often misinformed, and almost indecently condescending to the fans for whom they write. There’s been improvement recently, as the world comes to accept advanced statistics and those who don’t slowly leave the BBWAA’s ranks, but the Hall of Fame’s voting body is far from perfect.

That’s why debate about Carlos Beltran’s future Hall of Fame candidacy began the moment — or perhaps, before the moment — he announced his retirement, and will continue until the day he is inducted or removed from the ballot. As CBS Sports reported this week:

Whenever a high-caliber player retires, the obvious question that follows is whether or not they will be inducted into the Hall of Fame once they become eligible. With Carlos Beltran announcing his retirement on Monday, thus ending a 20-year career that was capped by his first World Series victory, this represents as good of a time as any to take a look at his candidacy.

The short version is that Beltran has a legitimate case for enshrinement. The long version is that Beltran has a legitimate case for enshrinement, but could become a polarizing figure on the ballot.

Sure, Beltran never reached 500 home runs, 3000 hits, or an MVP award. But as we’ve come to learn, those numbers don’t matter. Carlos Beltran belongs in the Hall of Fame. The BBWAA, I think, will recognize this — eventually — but it’s worth going over just how strong his case is.

Here is a list of players with 400 career home runs and 300 stolen bases: Barry Bonds, Willie Mays, Alex Rodriguez, and Andre Dawson. Four Hall of Famers. Oh, and Carlos Beltran, whose numbers are equal to or better than Dawson’s in almost every conceivable way, both traditional and sabermetric.

Andre Dawson: .279/.323/.482, 438 HR, 314 SB, 64.5 WAR

Carlos Beltran: .279/.350/.486, 435 HR, 312 SB, 69.8 WAR

And, of course, Beltran did it as a switch-hitter. Can you name another switch-hitter with 400 home runs and 300 stolen bases? Me neither — tell that to the next person who says that Beltran “didn’t make his mark on the game,” or whatever the argument is these days.

And let’s not forget about Beltran’s other claim to fame: his postseason numbers. Looking at Beltran’s playoff career, compared to other players of his caliber, he becomes even more impressive:

Beltran: .307/.412/.609, 16 HR, 11 SB

Dawson: .186/.238/.237, 0 HR, 2 SB

Mays: .247/.323/.337, 1 HR, 3 SB

Bonds: .245/.433/.503, 9 HR, 9 SB

Rodriguez: .259/.365/.457, 13 HR, 8 SB

So, for those of you keeping score at home: Carlos Beltran has better postseason numbers than several of the greatest hitters of all time, is the best power/speed switch hitter of all time, has better career numbers than an already-enshrined player of identical type, and, lest we forget, won three Gold Gloves. So, if you’re going to argue that Beltran didn’t do enough to merit Hall of Fame induction, I have one question: what more does a power/speed switch hitter need to do?

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