I’ll save you the headache of having a Hall of Fame argument over Beltran, because there is none. He’s getting in. The only debate worth having is what logo will be on his plaque.
After playing the first six-and-a-half years of his career in Kansas City, then helping Houston to a run to the 2004 NLCS, Beltran joined the Mets as a free agent in ’05. Things didn’t start off well for Beltran’s tenure in Queens. He played through injuries and had a down year in ’05, leaving many to wonder if the Mets had acquired themselves yet another free-agent bust. An ugly collision with Mike Cameron in the outfield that August was emblematic of just how smoothly his transition to the Big Apple was going.
Thankfully, Beltran became the player we had all hoped for the following year, and was an MVP candidate from ’06-’08. He was one of the games best power hitters, and manned center field with a grace that few others have ever possessed. He would chase balls down in Shea with such ease that it often appeared that he wasn’t trying. It was a joy to watch, and frankly, was often taken for granted.
So which team will be immortalized on Beltran's bronze cap? He played for seven teams throughout his career -- Royals (seven years), Mets (seven), Yankees (three), Cardinals (two), Astros (two), Rangers (one), and Giants (one). Right off the bat, you can eliminate the Giants, Rangers, Cardinals, and Yankees.
The Astros are an interesting case. An argument can be made that Beltran made his biggest impact as a player in ’04, when he carried the Astros down the stretch, and capped his first stint in Houston with a memorable playoff barrage of home runs. And this season's swan song culminated in his (and the franchise's) first World Series title.
If the Hall requires him to pick a team, it has to come down to the Mets and Royals. When you compare Beltran’s numbers, they’re eerily similar in each stop; a testament to how consistent of a player he was throughout the meat of his career. And for me, the tipping point would be what he did in helping to make the Mets a contender, compared to the doormat teams he played on in Kansas City. That’s about the only real difference you have to go on, and that’s enough for me.
But in my opinion, Beltran should be enshrined without a logo on his cap. I believe he is best remembered as a great all-around player that made great contributions at every stop of his career. I wish I could say the first thing that came to my mind when I thought about Carlos Beltran was literally anything other than the Wainwright strikeout, but I know the loyal fans in orange-and-blue will still support him when his day comes in Cooperstown. Many other fan bases should be there and thank him, too.