When the Red Sox signed Adrian Beltre to a one-year, $9 million contract prior to the 2010 season, the consensus among fans and media was that his swing was tailor-made for Fenway Park.
That collective hunch was correct. Beltre was selected to his first All-Star team and won the Silver Slugger for third baseman that season. He posted a slash line of a .321 batting average/.365 on-base percentage/.553 slugging percentage. He hit 28 home runs, with 102 RBI and hit a league-high (and career-high - by eight) 49 doubles. He finished in the top ten in MVP voting.
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Then the Sox let him walk. The trade for Adrian Gonzalez moved Kevin Youkilis from first back to third and the future Hall of Famer Beltre was off to a multi-year deal with the Texas Rangers, where he remained for the next eight seasons before announcing his retirement on Tuesday at 39.
Since then, the hot corner has been a hot topic in Boston.
Third base had been a revolving door, featuring Youkilis for one (albeit, good) season, Will Middlebrooks for parts of three seasons, Pablo Sandoval for parts of three seasons, Travis Shaw for parts of two seasons, Rafael Devers for parts of the past two, and Eduardo Nuñez for a chunk last season. It also featured cameos from the likes of Mike Aviles, Pedro Ciriaco, Brock Holt, Deven Marrero, Aaron Hill, Marco Hernandez, and Josh Rutledge. It's been everything but stable.
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The difference in production between the Red Sox third baseman and Beltre since 2011 is...eye-opening to say the least.
- Beltre (2011-2018) with Texas: Three All-Star appearances, two Silver Sluggers, 304/.357/.509, 199 HR, 699 RBI, 239 2B
- Red Sox primary 3B ('11-'18): One All-Star appearance, zero Silver Sluggers, an average slash of .246/.303/.410, 129 HR, 480 RBI, 190 2B
Not only was there a big gap offensively, but Boston had a dropoff in the field as well. Beltre won three Gold Gloves after leaving the Red Sox, while Boston third baseman had zero. Beltre's fielding percentage in that time span was .966, while Sox third baseman (not including defensive replacements listed above) check in with a much less impressive average of .949.
Congratulations to Beltre on a well-deserved retirement. Next stop, Cooperstown.
Just don't touch his head during his induction speech.
It'll remain one of the great Boston what-might-have beens that Sox fans are left wondering what his final eight seasons would've been like had he stayed here.
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