Barry M. Bloom

Beltran building strong Hall of Fame case

Beltran building strong Hall of Fame case

NEW YORK -- Carlos Beltran is having an unexpectedly terrific offensive season for the Yankees, stirring up some buzz about his eventual induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Beltran has said he'd like to play two more seasons, placing his eligibility for the Hall at seven years away, including the five-year waiting period.

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At 39, Beltran will be a free agent at the end of the season, and though he'd love to stay in New York, there's been no contact yet with the Yankees about a new deal.

Beltran's RBI single

Yankees manager Joe Girardi has been campaigning for Beltran's Hall candidacy all season, and when you look at the numbers, he certainly has a point. As the Yanks embark on a six-game road trip to Colorado and Minnesota beginning against the Rockies on Tuesday night, Girardi continued to wax eloquent about the right fielder, now in his 18th full season.

"Really I don't know where we'd be without him," Girardi said. "I think he's a Hall of Famer. You look at his body of work. You look at his stolen bases, you look at how he played center field, the RBIs, everything together."

On May 15, Beltran became the third Puerto Rico-born player to hit 400 homers, joining Carlos Delgado and Juan Gonzalez. He's also the fourth switch-hitter to hit 400, following Mickey Mantle, Eddie Murray and Chipper Jones.

Beltran's 400th homer

Beltran's lifetime WAR of 69.4 is the fourth highest among active players, behind teammate Alex Rodriguez (118.6), Albert Pujols (99.7) and Adrian Beltre (86.0).

With 16 homers this season, Beltran is tied for fourth in the American League with David Ortiz. Behind him are such powerhouses as Mike Trout, Chris Davis, Nelson Cruz, Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista. His 44 RBIs place him in a tie for sixth with Trout and Mike Napoli. When the season began, no one would have figured it.

Hall chances? These are the natives of Puerto Rico in the Hall: Roberto Clemente, Orlando Cepeda and Roberto Alomar. Beltran would be the fourth. Here's what he had to say about it:

"For me, man, I'm just happy to hear that I'm being considered for the Hall of Fame," Beltran said. "But honestly, my whole concentration is on coming to the ballpark every day and trying to help this team win, to do the best I can. I always say that when I retire from baseball, I will take a look at my numbers and compare myself with the careers of the players who are in there, and hopefully I'll get a chance.

"I don't like to talk about it. It's not in my hands. The only thing I can control is coming here today and doing the best job I can. And hopefully at the end, when everything is said and done, I have good enough numbers so I can be considered."

Beltran's three-run homer

Here are the numbers: Among the power hitters from his home commonwealth, Beltran has more homers (408) and RBIs (1,487) than Clemente (240 and 1,305) and Cepeda (379 and 1,365).

Clemente was elected to the Hall by the Baseball Writers' Association of America in 1973 after an 18-season career. He passed away on Dec. 31, 1972, when the plane carrying him on a rescue mission to earthquake-ravaged Nicaragua crashed into the ocean off the coast of San Juan. The writers waived the five-year rule in honor of the great Clemente.

A 12-time Gold Glove Award-winning right fielder who played his entire career with the Pirates, Clemente had exactly 3,000 hits to Beltran's 2,513.

Cepeda, whose 17-year career as a first baseman and outfielder ended in 1974, was elected by a Veterans Committee and was inducted in 1999. He had 379 homers, 1,365 RBIs and 2,351 hits. His best years were for the Giants and Cardinals.

Among the switch-hitters, Mantle and Murray are already in the Hall, and their power figures far surpass Beltran. But Jones, who played 19 seasons at third base and the outfield -- all with the Braves -- is right in Beltran's ballpark with 468 homers, 1,623 RBIs and 2,726 hits.

Jones' career ended in 2012, and he'll be on the Hall ballot for the first time at the end of next year. His chances of getting elected are very good.

Beltran's two-run shot

So are Beltran's chances when these comparisons are considered. As a voting writer, he sizes up very well. And despite a serious right knee injury in 2010 with the Mets and a right elbow injury two years ago with the Yankees, Beltran should ultimately get in during his 10-year period of eligibility.

"He's probably a Hall of Famer anyway, but he'd be one for sure if he didn't have the injuries," said Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, who played with Beltran for several months in 2004 when both played for the Astros. "He's one of the best talents I've ever seen or played with. He could do everything when I played with him.

"He could hit for power, he was as fast as anyone in the game, had a real strong arm. He used to slide so hard you thought he was going to break the stem off the base. He was phenomenal. When he was younger and in his prime, I'd be hard-pressed to find a guy that could match his talent across the board.

"So it doesn't surprise me that -- even with some of those skills deteriorating and eroding -- he's still pretty good."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.