Psssst! Beltre! Hey, thanks from Seattleites . . . For nothing.
When the Seattle Mariners acquired Adrian Beltre, the third-baseman, who had three dingers against Tampa Bay Tuesday (Oct. 4) to lead the Texas Rangers to the next playoff level, he was 26 and coming off what many would say was the greatest season ever played by a hot-corner guy. His 2004 stats eclipsed the best numbers ever put up by Mike Schmidt, George Brett, and Brooks Robinson: perhaps the three best third-sackers ever. Beltre also had fewer errors for a season than any of the above ever recorded.
For the Dodgers in 2004, Beltre played 155 games at third and another at shortstop. He had 121 runs batted in, hit .334 and Beltred, er, belted a big-league-high 48 long balls.
Then Beltre came to play at Safeco Field and his numbers dropped like tiles from the ceiling of the old Kingdome. During his five years here, he never had more than 26 home runs and 99 RBI. His best batting average was .276. After an injury-ridden ’08 swan season in Seattle, he moved to Boston, where he immediately had impact: .321, 102 and 28, plus leading the league in doubles.
Now, with Texas, Beltre is exhibiting the post-season heroics that never happened in Seattle, possibly because he played here during a localized 21st-century version of the Dead Ball Era.
But how could his lack of production on offense also account for the simultaneous drop-off in defensive numbers when he arrived here in ’05? In Los Angeles in 2004, he registered just 10 errors at third: fewer than the best D-years of the above mentioned three. For the M’s, he never had fewer than 14.
Obviously nobody believes that Beltre came to Seattle planning to play worse than he had in Los Angeles. Nor could anyone prove that he went to Boston and Texas for the sole purpose of showing that he could do better than what he did here. How, then, does one explain his abrupt up-down-up turn-arounds during his time in L.A., Seattle, Boston, and Arlington, Texas? Was it just because the crummy M’s posed an uninspiring environment? The ’04 Dodgers, after all, won 93 games and a division title.
The only other apparent answer is that there isn’t any answer. Beltre simply didn’t perform in Seattle nearly as well as he has everywhere else. That conclusion is easily quantified.
How is it qualified? Did Beltre, presumably in his career prime during his Seattle years, have some reason to under-perform? Night after night we watched him live at Safeco and on TV here and elsewhere appearing at the plate to be inferior to the Beltre who played with the ’04 Dodgers. Knowing that he was contractually obligated to play here, why didn’t he strive to do better?
Texas Rangers partisans must be ecstatic knowing they’re going into the American League Championship Series and possibly the World Series with a five-hole guy who evidently wanted to win so much that he hit three solo home-runs Tuesday to assure his club’s one-run victory. Didn’t you want to win that badly in Seattle, Beltre? If so, why did you put up what have been by far your worst career numbers here?
You’re a mere 32 years old, Beltre. You don’t project to career numbers that would indicate Hall of Fame consideration. If you did, it’s pretty easy to conclude that you wouldn’t take entry in a Mariners uniform because, for whatever reason, you never even played here like an All Star Game reserve.
Good luck the rest of the way, Beltre and, again, thanks for nothing.