Whew! Let’s all take a second to catch our breath. This was one wild weekend in Texas Rangers’ land, one we’re unlikely to ever see again.
By now you must know about all that transpired on Sunday. Pudge Rodriguez officially entered the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., and about 10 minutes later Adrian Beltre roped a double down the left-field line for his 3,000th hit.
I’d like to be clever and say Beltre stamped his ticket to the Hall of Fame, but the truth is he had already done that. From now on, 3,000 hits and counting, along with all of the other career milestones he’s destined to reach, will only further enhance his Hall of Fame resumé.
It was a pleasure to cover, not only because it’s a piece of baseball history but because Beltre is a pleasure to cover.
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Here’s the Rangers reaction after a history-making day in Arlington and elsewhere:
1. Lucroy traded — Jonathan Lucroy was traded to the Rockies for a player to be named later long after the last fan had left the ballpark Sunday evening. Lucroy hadn’t been here long (almost a year to the day), but he made himself approachable from the start. In fact, quickly in his short tenure with the Rangers it was clear he was going to be a go-to source of post-game quotes and information. Not only was he informative about the pitching staff, but he had a veteran’s long view and always shot you straight. He was always candid about his own struggles, which consumed most of this season. Why? Who knows. He played like the former All-Star he was with the Brewers the last two months of ’16. Produced on the field and, as mentioned above, appeared to be an excellent clubhouse person.
2. Elvis and 3,000 — Elvis Andrus has thought about it. The 3,000-hit milestone. In the off-season, Andrus said, he considered what it will take for him to pull off what his good friend Adrian Beltre pulled off Sunday.
“It’s still a long way to go,” said Andrus, who has 1,383 hits in his career. “If I stay healthy, I believe I’ll be able to do it. But you don’t know. Baseball is so crazy with injuries … it’s a hard thing to do, that’s why only 31 people in the whole history of baseball have done it.”
Andrus is averaging 170 hits per 162-game season through his first nine seasons in the league. Remember, Andrus is only 28 years old (10 years younger than Beltre. Andrus’ career-high for hits in a season is 180 in 2012. With his matured approach at the plate the past two seasons, he could top that down the road. But for how long? He needs 1,617 hits to reach 3,000. That means he would need to average 161.7 hits for 10 more seasons (or throw in a couple of 200-hit seasons) to pull it off.
“When you get to see it with your own eyes, it’s a very special moment,” Andrus said of Beltre’s milestone. “It’s historical and something you’ll tell your kids about in the future.”
Perhaps in 10 years, Andrus’ baby boy, Elvis Emilio (born on July 6), could be giving his dad a hug in the infield just as Beltre’s son Adrian Jr. did on Sunday afternoon. If so, hopefully it happens in Arlington, under a roof, and in a Rangers’ win.
3. Bullish on Beltre — Covering Beltre for the remainder of his career is going to be fun because if he keeps playing close to his current level (which means to say just about as good as ever) he’s going to continue to pass some of the greatest names in the history of the game. Here’s a taste after he reached 3,000 hits:
▪ First player born in the Dominican Republic and only the fifth born outside of the U.S.
▪ He’s the 16th right-handed batter with 3,000 hits and third while primarily playing third base (George Brett and Wade Boggs).
▪ Fourth player ever to collect at least 3,000 hits, 600 doubles and 450 home runs (Stan Musial, Hank Aaron and Carl Yastrzemski). He joins Aaron as the only right-handed batter to do it.
▪ He tied Paul Molitor for 14th all-time with his 605th double. With 28 more doubles, he’ll pass David Ortiz into the all-time top 10.
▪ He tied Mel Ott for 20th all-time with 5,041 total bases. With four more bases he’ll pass George Brett for 19th all-time.
4. About that wild card spot — The Rangers need to start winning and winning a lot if they have any real shot at earning a wild card spot. They’re 5 1/2 games back of the second spot now, with five teams ahead or tied with them in the wild card standings, including the Orioles, who took 2 of 3 this weekend after sweeping the Rangers last week. Talk about a kick to the teeth. The Orioles have the same record as the Rangers (50-54) but have looked like the team with a legit shot at the post-season. The Rangers? The can’t seem to get any momentum going in the right direction. If the pitching is solid, the offense goes missing. If the offense is producing, the pitching falls on its face. Early in the season, the bullpen was the obvious scapegoat while the offense sputtered. Now, the bullpen has been relatively dependable (not counting Jeremy Jeffress) and the offense still often sputters. The club hasn’t been clicking together the entire season. Even when they won 10 consecutive games in May their offense was hardly the reason. By the way, they won those 10 games against the Padres, A’s and Phillies — all in last place or close to is in their divisions.