Sarah's Take: Adrian Beltre
The best word to describe Adrian Beltre is promise. After having a controversial off season, Beltre had a slow start. However, after the all-star break when other Dodgers slumped, Beltre started to show signs of becoming a super star. Beltre, 21, showed much maturity when he still performed well after getting a large financial commitment from the Dodgers. Beltre provides hope for now and the future for the Dodgers and their fans.
Adrian Beltre can do everything well on any baseball field. Many call him a five-tool player, and five-tool players are difficult to find. Beltre can hit for a high average, hit with power, run fast, field, and throw. Because he has so much talent, the Dodgers rushed to sign him before his legal age. Then they rushed him to the major leagues. Though he did not get a swollen head when the Dodgers promoted him from double-A to the major leagues in June 1998, often the competition overmatched him. In 1999 he showed much growth as a player, but at times he struggled still. The 2000 season started slowly for Beltre. Many Dodger officials questioned his work ethnic. After a stint on the disabled list with a severely strained groin muscle and several conversations with Manny Mota, Beltre had renewed desire and performed outstandingly after the all-star break.
Beltre became an offensive force in the Dodger lineup in 2000. His .290 batting average with twenty home runs and 85 RBI is outstanding for a 21-year-old. Before the all-star break he batted .251 with eight home runs and 38 RBI, but after the break he hit .331 with twelve home runs and 47 RBI. He had a remarkable August when he hit .368 with five home runs and 22 RBI. For some reason he batted .336 from the first through the sixth innings whereas he batted .201 after the sixth inning. When the Dodgers had runners in scoring position, they wanted Beltre’s .321 batting average in that situation. With runners in scoring position with two outs he hit .338. Beltre had a .360 on-base percentage, which is decent. Unlike most young Dominicans, Beltre showed patience and discipline at the plate. While striking out 80 times, he walked 56.
Early in 2000 Beltre struggled defensively, but after the all-star break his defense improved. Though his 23 errors were the second highest committed by a National League third baseman, he has good fielding skills. His hands are quick. He catches sure-handedly and softly, never jerking at the ball. Sometimes he allows the ball to play him, producing bad hops, instead of attacking the ball. His arm makes the strongest throws in the league, but sometimes he has thrown inaccurately. He plays soft grounders and bunts maybe the best in the league. He had a range of 2.82 while the league’s average was 2.18.
Adrian Beltre has enormous potential. In the 2000 season he showed much growth and development as a baseball player. Barring injury, he will contribute to the Dodger effort in 2001 and probably many years to come.