— -- Editor's note: This story originally ran on May 15, 2017. Carlos Beltran announced his retirement Thursday. Nov. 13, 2017.
Do you remember Dos Carlos? If you're a Kansas City Royals fan of a certain age, you surely do. That was the moniker attached to a pair of hotshot Royals rookies in the late 1990s: second baseman Carlos Febles and center fielder Carlos Beltran. During those years, Royals fans would grab at anything that looked like hope, and for a while, Dos Carlos was definitely a thing.
After both reached the majors late in the 1998 season, Febles and Beltran spent their official rookie campaigns together the following year in Kansas City. They were both good. Febles hit 10 homers, stole 20 bases and provided above-average, often flashy defense. He finished 10th among MLB rookies that season with 2.0 WAR, according to Baseball-Reference.com.
Meanwhile, Beltran exploded out of the gate. He hit .293/.337/.454 with 22 homers, 108 RBIs, 27 steals and 112 runs scored. He finished with 4.7 WAR, second among rookies behind Chris Singleton. Beltran ranked sixth among MLB defenders with 22 fielding runs above average and was named AL Rookie of the Year. Carlos and Carlos were both in their early 20s, and it seemed that the Royals were set at two key positions for years to come.
That turned out to be half-true. Febles' rookie season turned out to be his best, and he was out of the majors before he reached his 28th birthday. Right now, as you read this, he is only 40 years old and is in his second season as the manager of the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs.
Meanwhile, Beltran went on to become one of the best all-around players in baseball and one of the best in Royals history. His economic value long ago outgrew the constraints of the Royals' budget, and he went on to star for several teams. A player who was once so uncertain of his own ability that he initially refused to return to the minors for injury rehab -- Beltran was afraid he'd never make it back to The Show --? earned more than $200 million playing baseball.
This is the shape of a Hall of Fame career: Great out of the gate. Great for an extended period of time. Productive even after skills begin to fade. And make no mistake, the 40-year-old Beltran is in the fading phase of his career. If that Dos Carlos thing seems like a long, long time ago, it's because it was -- Bill Clinton was president when Beltran reached the big leagues. That's how long it takes to build a Hall case if you aren't among the elite of the elite, one of those slam-dunk players whose Hall worthiness is never questioned.
Beltran's Hall of Fame case is not a slam dunk. He was an All-Star nine times. He won three Gold Gloves. He garnered MVP support in seven seasons but never finished higher than fourth in the voting. On the all-time WAR leaderboard, he is tied for No. 99 with Scott Rolen, who isn't in the Hall. Right above Beltran is Barry Larkin, and right behind him is Gary Carter. They're both in Cooperstown. But others ahead of Beltran -- Rick Reuschel, Alan Trammell and Bobby Grich -- have yet to be inducted.
Let's consider Beltran's case using one my favorite things: Bill James' Keltner questions, which I most recently used in January to look at three Hall-eligible players.