Bel­tran go­ing out on top

Astros out­fielder re­tires af­ter win­ning his first World Se­ries ti­tle

The Western Star - - SPORTS - BY KRISTIE RIEKEN

It took quite some time, but Car­los Bel­tran fi­nally got there, win­ning a World Se­ries ti­tle af­ter 20 sea­sons in the ma­jors.

Now he is leav­ing the Hous­ton Astros and leav­ing base­ball, re­tir­ing af­ter a ca­reer in which he was a nine-time All-Star and was Rookie of the Year. The 40-yearold des­ig­nated hit­ter and out­fielder made the an­nounce­ment Mon­day, 12 days af­ter the Astros beat the Los An­ge­les Dodgers in Game 7 of the World Se­ries.

He an­nounced his re­tire­ment in an es­say writ­ten for The Play­ers’ Tri­bune web­site. His story touched on what fi­nally win­ning a cham­pi­onship meant to him.

“I re­al­ized early on that my pur­pose in this game was to share knowl­edge with younger play­ers and to give back to the game of base­ball,” he wrote. “I al­ways wanted to do that — that, and be the best team­mate I could pos­si­bly be. Over 20 years, I feel like I ac­com­plished that.

“So whether we won or lost Game 7, I would have still been happy with my ca­reer. But it still feels nice to have a ring,” he con­tin­ued.

Be­sides be­ing named an All- Star nine times, most re­cently in 2016, and the 1999 AL Rookie of the Year, he won three Gold Glove and two Sil­ver Slug­ger awards.

His pro­duc­tion dropped dra­mat­i­cally this year. He hit .295 with 29 homers and 93 RBIs for the New York Yan­kees and Texas in 2016. He then bat­ted .231 with 14 homers and 51 RBIs for Hous­ton. De­spite that, Bel­tran’s vet­eran pres­ence and his work with Hous­ton’s younger play­ers in­clud­ing Jose Al­tuve, Car­los Cor­rea and Mar­win Gon­za­lez proved in­valu­able for the Astros.

“He was worth ev­ery penny for us ... he helped us win in a lot of ways, even though his num­bers were not what they were last year, he con­trib­uted in a lot of way that were not re­ally seen by our fans,” Hous­ton gen­eral man­ager Jeff Luh­now said. “They were talked about a lot In this Oct. 9, 2017, file photo, Hous­ton Astros des­ig­nated hit­ter Car­los Bel­tran takes a swing dur­ing Game 4 of base­ball’s Amer­i­can League Divi­sion in Bos­ton. Bel­tran is re­tir­ing af­ter win­ning his first World Se­ries ti­tle in his 20th major league sea­son. The 40-year-old made the an­nounce­ment on Mon­day, 12 days af­ter the Astros won the World Se­ries.

by our play­ers. Also I think peo­ple know what I’m talk­ing about. He re­ally was a player-coach for us this year and he con­trib­uted in ways that lead me to be­lieve there’s no way we win the cham­pi­onship with­out him this year.”

He fin­ishes with a .279 aver­age, 435 homers, 1,587 RBIs and 312 stolen bases. He also has played for Kansas City, the New York Mets, San Fran­cisco and St. Louis.

This sea­son was Bel­tran’s sec­ond stint with the Astros, af­ter he was traded to Hous­ton in June 2004. His work that post-sea­son re­mains one of the best play­off per­for­mances in his­tory. He hit .455 with four homers and nine RBIs in an NLDS win over At­lanta, then bat­ted .417 with four more homers and five RBIs be­fore Hous­ton was elim­i­nated by the Car­di­nals in the NLCS.

Bel­tran ap­peared in 10 games post- sea­son, in­clud­ing three in World Se­ries.

He fin­ished with three hits, in­clud­ing two dou­bles, and an RBI in help­ing the Astros to their first ti­tle. this the

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE PHOTO/CHARLES KRUPA

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