Adrian Beltre had his Major League debut back in 1998, and he is the most accomplished third baseman in the game. Beltre is still putting up solid numbers sixteen years later and he remains fantasy relevant even with the questions of age and injury looming over him.
Beltre is arguably the top third baseman in both real and fantasy baseball even at the age of 35. He is a complete hitter and a four-time Gold Glove Award winner. Adrian Beltre hit only 19 homers in 2014, which represents only the second time he has hit fewer than 25 home runs since 2006. While the power may have been down, Beltre’s overall offensive production was still elite.
Adrian Beltre has been the top fantasy third baseman since 2010 with an average of 85.6 runs, 29 homers, 95.6 RBI’s, 1.2 steals, and a .316/.364/.535 slash line over those five seasons. All of this elite production has come in his 30’s. Of course, the only question that matters is what will Beltre do going forward?
In 2014, Adrian Beltre posted a wRC+ of 141, which slightly exceeded his 2010-2014 wRC+ of 139. A comparison of Beltre’s 2014 wOBA versus his 2010-2014 wOBA found those numbers to be only .002 apart. Adrian Beltre’s had a slash line of .324/.388/.492 that compares equally at worst to his slash line over the past few years. Outside of the home run total, there is no visible decline in Beltre’s play.
Personally, I think Adrian Beltre will see a slight rebound in his home run total next season. His HR/FB% was the worst of his career since his abysmal 2009 season in Seattle. While an 11.1% HR/FB% is quite solid, it is a decent bit below his career mark of 13.6%. While it bears no significance to the present day or future of Adrian Beltre, I found out that Beltre posted a preposterous 23.3% HR/FB% back in his landmark 2004 campaign with the Dodgers when he clubbed 48 home runs.
While I am not too concerned about Beltre’s drop to 19 home runs in 2014, his age is the more worrisome question. At some point, everyone’s skills will decline or their body will give out, but I do not think it will be in 2015 for Beltre. He is currently too good of a ballplayer for me to predict his demise without any indication in his performance or even peripheral numbers.
There is no telling when Adrian Beltre will begin his decline, so his second round price tag carries a considerable risk. However, there is no doubt he has been the best player on the Rangers the past few years and one of the premier ballplayers in all of baseball even at 35 years old. I think it is more likely that Adrian Beltre continues to pad his borderline Hall of Fame resume instead of falling off the cliff at age 36.