The entire world sits with bated breath waiting for the bidding results of the Yu Darvish sweepstakes.
Well, maybe just baseball fans.
It is plain to see that for Texas Rangers fans, Yu Darvish and Prince Fielder have dominated the free agent discussion since the winter meetings and the blockbuster signings by the LA Angels. Many Rangers fans want a swift and powerful counterpunch after the rival in West landed two of the biggest names on the market.
There are many reasons the Rangers spent the majority of the season ahead of the Angels last year, not the least of which is a guy who can generate more power from one knee than Erick Aybar can with a full swing. The same guy made one of the most spectacular catches in the first inning of Game 4 of the World Series, a catch that settled Derek Holland down and allowed him to pitch his masterpiece.
Adrian Beltre was a signing that many saw as an afterthought last year when the team fell short of signing Cliff Lee. Inked to a five year/ $80 million deal, Beltre hit his way into the hearts of many Ranger fans when his first home run of the year came with the bases loaded, putting the game out of reach.
Beltre immediately fit into a clubhouse ready to embrace him. They bonded so well that he didn’t fly into a rage every time someone touched his head after a big hit (something that not every club can claim).
He flashed some incredible leather throughout the year, making gravity defying throws to first on slow rollers in the infield. He hit .296/.331/.561 while driving 105 RBI and crushing 32 home runs during his debut season as a Texas Ranger.
And some said he only hit in contract years.
If Beltre hadn’t gone down for almost six weeks with a hamstring injury, his numbers could have far eclipsed anything he had ever accomplished in a major league uniform. And he’s been in the big leagues since 1998. This team showed an incredible ability to pick up the hole left in the offense without him, but they certainly know they perform better with him.
When the Rangers clinched the number two seed in the American League on the night of game 162, there was no bigger smile in the clubhouse.
Through all the champagne and smiles, it was easy to see a man driven to help his team succeed. And Beltre would get his chance to shine during Game 4 of the ALDS against Tampa Bay.
On October 4th, 2011, the Ranger would have the chance to close out the Rays and move on for a chance to repeat as AL Champs. After being dominated in Game One by rookie Matt Moore, the Rangers had rattled off back to back wins. When the chance to put the Rays away came, Beltre would be ready.
He made four plate appearances that day. Three times he hit the ball out of the park.
Beltre slotted his name next to Babe Ruth in the record books for what he did that day, but all he cared about was the chance to go with his teammates to the next round. The teammates who had rallied around each other all year, stepped up for each other all year, and cheered for each other all year.
In fact, in one game against the LA Angels, a field microphone that was left a little too close to the Rangers dugout caught one such example of Beltre cheering for his teammates as they crushed home runs against their rival.