Beltre on the Hall ballot.

The Hall of Fame Ballot came out yesterday. Number 29 is on it.

Adrian Beltre was a good player when, at age thirty-two, and after thirteen major league seasons, he signed as a free agent with the Rangers. Eight seasons later, he was a Hall of Fame-caliber player.

Beltre started as a nineteen-year-old phenom with the Dodgers in 1998, playing third and occasionally shortstop. It took him a while to get going.

In his seven seasons with the Dodgers, Beltre racked up a 108 OPS+, meaning he was just slightly above average offensively. But, in 2004, which just so happened to be his walk year, it all kicked in for Beltre. He his 48 home runs, drove in 121, had an elite OPS of 1.017, and finished second on the NL MVP voting to Barry Bonds, who was in the height of his steroid era.

Beltre signed with Seattle. It was five years of, quite frankly, mediocrity and frustration. He never clicked offensively in Seattle, and, when a player signs a free agent deal and doesn’t immediately bring the team the World Series championship, fans are disappointed. Mariners fans were disappointed with Beltre. He never came close to the season the had leading up to his free agency.

Frankly, at this point of his career, Beltre was a great fielder, average hitting third baseman who had never been an All-Star, and never been an MVP candidate except for that one exceptional 2004 year.

That’s why, when he was a free agent again, he had to take a one-year contract with Boston to prove himself again. Few teams were interested in a long-term arrangement with Adrian Beltre.

Then it all kicked in. His season in Boston, he lead baseball with 49 doubles, hit 28 home runs, drove in 102, had a .919 OPS, and a 141 OPS+. And, at age thirty-one, in his thirteenth major league season, Adrian Beltre was finally an All-Star. He finished ninth in MVP voting, and hit free agency once again.

It wasn’t a slam dunk. There was a lot of buzz that Beltre was only good in his contract years. That wasn’t true. His free-agency season in Seattle was his worst season of his career. But his walk year with the Dodgers and Red Sox were phenomenal.

The Rangers, coming off a World Series loss in 2010, and looking to finally turn the corner and be a winning franchise, outbid the Angels for Beltre’s services. He joined the 2011 squad that should have won it all. He signed a six-year contract with Texas, and it all clicked in. In his first season, he was an All-Star, top-fifteen in MVP voting, a Gold Glove, and a Silver Slugger.

His next season was even better. Top-three in MVP voting, another All-Star appearance. But beyond the numbers, Beltre brought joy. You had to watch him, his play was infectious. His defense was stellar, making plays no human could make, and that signature rifle throw that, with a whip of his wrist caused the ball to magically sail into the first baseman’s mitt .

Nobody had more fun playing than Adrian Beltre.

Adrian Beltre gave Rangers fans eight glorious seasons. Seasons of joy. He was the most beloved Ranger upon his retirement, never having won that ring. But having won the hearts of Rangers fans.

He played the game the right way. Now, it’s in the hands of the Hall of Fame voters. He should get in based on his defense alone. His offense makes it a no-doubter.

Good luck, Adrian. And thanks for all the years.