Whenever a high-caliber player retires, the obvious question that follows is whether or not they will be inducted into the Hall of Fame once they become eligible. With Carlos Beltran on Monday, thus ending a 20-year career that was capped by his first World Series victory, this represents as good of a time as any to take a look at his candidacy.
The short version is that Beltran has a legitimate case for enshrinement. The long version is that Beltran has a legitimate case for enshrinement, but could become a polarizing figure on the ballot.
Why? Because Beltran seems to come up short through the old-school lens. He failed to hit the magical milestones typically associated with automatic entry to Cooperstown: He finished his career with 435 home runs and 2,725 hits. It doesn't help Beltran's case with old-school voters that he never finished higher than fourth in MVP voting -- and that the fourth-place rank was the only time he finished higher than ninth. He did win a World Series, but it came during a seven-game series in which he went 0 for 3 without reaching base.
In Beltran's favor with the more traditional voter are the facts that he won three Gold Glove Awards and two Silver Slugger Awards, as well as the 1999 Rookie of the Year Award. He also partook in nine MLB All-Star Games and became one of five players to homer more than 400 times and steal more than 300 bags (the others being Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Willie Mays, and Andre Dawson). Plus, while Beltran didn't do much in the World Series, he's known for being a gifted postseason performer -- his eight-homer run in 2004 helped him finish with career postseason marks of .307/.412/.609 and 16 home runs (with more walks than strikeouts) in 256 plate appearances.
Meanwhile, any voter who uses advanced metrics will likely opt to vote for Beltran. Consider that Beltran finished with 69.8 career Wins Above Replacement, and that his best seven years saw him tally 44.3 WAR -- then consider that the average center fielder already in the Hall of Fame tallied 71.2 career WAR, and enjoyed a seven-year peak that saw them accumulate 44.6 WAR.
So, is Beltran a future Hall of Famer? It depends on your perspective. Those who favor milestones and awards will view him as having fallen short of the prerequisite marks. Those who go off WAR will give him the nod.
In other words, we could be in for five long years of debate.