July 24, 2017

Adrian Beltre needs 11 hits to reach 3,000 - a milestone that would bring some long overdue attention to a quietly great player.

Beltre has never won an MVP award, and he's been an All-Star only four times, missing out even in 2004, when he was on his way to hitting 48 home runs for the Dodgers. Although he's been overlooked at times, the 38-year-old third baseman has put together a well-rounded case for the Hall of Fame, and his 3,000th hit may very well solidify it. Beltre also has 453 home runs, a career .286 average and five Gold Gloves.

Beltre and the Texas Rangers open a nine-game homestand Monday night against Miami, so his 3,000th hit could come at home.

Beltre is among a handful of players in their late 30s or older who still have an opportunity to add to their resumes as their careers wind down. These other stars have varying cases for the Hall of Fame:

- Albert Pujols, Angels. The 37-year-old Pujols is signed through 2021, so the three-time MVP has a chance to add a few more milestones to his long list of accomplishments. He hit his 600th home run earlier this year, and his 3,000th hit will likely come next season. Hank Aaron, Alex Rodriguez and Willie Mays are the only players to reach both those marks.

- Ichiro Suzuki, Marlins. Suzuki has over 3,000 major league hits - and that doesn't count his stats from when he was in Japan. He's 43 now and hitting just .227, but his unique career has been a marvel.

- Carlos Beltran, Astros. The 40-year-old Beltran has 433 home runs and 312 steals, and although Mets fans remember his strikeout to end the 2006 NL Championship Series, his overall body of work in the postseason has been stellar. He's hitting only .229 this season, so his bat may finally be slipping, but he'll have plenty of support for the Hall.

- Chase Utley, Dodgers. Utley's prime was probably a bit underrated. He won four straight Silver Sluggers from 2006-2009 and put up big power numbers for a second baseman. The 38-year-old is hitting .225 this year, and he's still 176 hits shy of 2,000. His sabermetric case for the Hall is a decent one despite that low hit total, but he hasn't done much to stand out late in his career.

- CC Sabathia, Yankees. Sabathia's Hall chances took a hit when he posted a 4.81 ERA from 2013-2015. His 2015 season ended with a trip to an alcohol rehab center, and the left-hander has enjoyed more success on the field since. Sabathia, who turned 37 this past week, is 9-3 this year with a 3.44 ERA. He needs 203 more strikeouts to reach 3,000.

Here are a few other developments from around baseball:

THAT WAS FAST

The Chicago Cubs were 5 + games behind first-place Milwaukee at the All-Star break, and despite the obvious talent on the roster for the defending World Series champions, it was fair to wonder if they'd let the Brewers reach too comfortable an advantage. Since then, Chicago has gone 8-1, and the Cubs are now one percentage point ahead of Milwaukee atop the NL Central.

The pressure will be on the Brewers to respond, especially now that a resurgent Pittsburgh team is only three games behind.

HIGHLIGHT

Aaron Judge's 31st homer of the season nearly left Safeco Field on Friday night, landing three rows from the top. Statcast wasn't even able to get an accurate read on it. The Mariners' staff estimated the drive at 440 feet, which drew immediate skepticism .

The Yankees beat Seattle 5-1 that night.

LINE OF THE WEEK

Nolan Arenado, Rockies, hit three homers with seven RBIs in a five-hit day Wednesday as Colorado beat San Diego 18-4. Impressive, even for Coors Field.

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More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

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Follow Noah Trister at www.Twitter.com/noahtrister

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