Beltre's career defies unfair labels

Adrian Beltre's offensive numbers need to be put in propert context to appreciate his impact. AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

Like many players who were anointed as future superstars at a very young age, Adrian Beltre has always been a victim of high expectations.

When he hit 48 home runs for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2004, people thought he was finally living up to the hype he generated when he broke into the bigs at the age of 19. However, when Beltre didn't produce similar power numbers during his tenure with the Seattle Mariners, he was a labeled a big-money bust.

On the heels of his three-homer game on Tuesday that propelled the Texas Rangers to the ALCS, Beltre is back in the spotlight, and there still seems to be a "what might have been" narrative that has followed his career.

That categorization is unfair because when put into proper context, Beltre is among the best third baseman in history and, barring a catastrophic injury, should have a legitimate case for the Hall of Fame when all is said and done.