Prior to his connection with the 2017 Houston Astros, I think everyone thought it was only a matter of time before Carlos Beltran went into Cooperstown, likely wearing a New York Mets cap. His alleged involvement in one of the game’s biggest scandals in the game’s history lost him his job as the Mets manager and a lot of credibility.
Beltran will first become Hall of Fame eligible on the 2023 ballot. When he does, voters will have a tough decision to make. Will the sign-stealing scandal be behind us enough to enshrine him? Furthermore, was he even Cooperstown-worthy in the first place?
Former Mets star Carlos Beltran was already a questionable Hall of Famer
It’s one statistic but Beltran has the exact same career WAR as Scott Rolen, a guy who has inched closer to the Hall of Fame but still hasn’t gotten in yet. I think the two are quite comparable. Neither was ever the league’s best player in any given year. Each could hit and play terrific defense. Beltran’s overall offensive numbers are far superior so that should give him an edge over Rolen.
Between now and then, Rolen could have already been elected which certainly gives Beltran a greater chance. We’ll also see further how voters feel about guys like Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz, two other stars connected to scandal in the past.
Rodriguez received a suspension from MLB for his use of PEDs while Ortiz’s involvement years earlier is not proven through a positive test. Voters have been unkind to anyone who was a proven PED user or outright liar that took an aggressive approach in defending themselves. Ortiz has managed to fall into the "denier" category and is remembered far more for clutch postseason performances and a big smile.
That’s the main difference between A-Rod and Big Papi. A-Rod is a villain from the Steroid Era. Big Papi is a teddy bear.
With Beltran, he kept his mouth quiet. He didn’t come off as a bad guy in the situation. He took the route that anyone hoping to one day get into Cooperstown with a few bruises should.
In terms of pure numbers, Beltran is short on any of the major milestones. His 2725 hits, 435 home runs, and 312 stolen bases to go with a lifetime .279/.350/.486 batting line are great but they also scream borderline Hall of Famer. The coveted 3000 hits and 500 home runs were out of reach by a couple of seasons. The slash numbers are not elite.
Beltran was at his best during his years with the Mets. However, he only once came close to winning the MVP with a fourth-place vote in 2006. He was rarely in the mix for the honor, often settling for distant finishes in the teens or 20s.
There is no baseball crime committed if Beltran does one day get into the Hall of Fame. Despite never being the absolute best in any season, he was often among the upper echelon of outfielders. His mix of power and speed is something rarely seen back in the early 2000s when guys would run and hit home runs far more often than they do today.
Beltran will most likely suffer at least a year of waiting for enshrinement. How Rolen and Ortiz perform on the upcoming ballots (Rodriguez is a whole different case) will say a lot about whether or not Mets fans may get another stop at the Cooperstown museum whenever they visit.