Adrian Beltre has been the rare Rangers regular to get off to a slow start at the plate this season.
He's hitting just .125, has just one extra base hit and isn't drawing any walks. It's all enough for some people to suggest that he got dropped from the cleanup spot in favor of the torrid Nelson Cruz.
It's a silly notion. Six games is an unbelievably small sample size to use for a reasonable evaluation, trying to fix something that isn't broken is never wise and the shuffle wouldn't result in a big change in projected runs either. At least the suggestion stops at changing the batting order because extending it to say anything negative about Beltre's value would be monumentally stupid.
Make no mistake, Beltre has had a major impact on the six-game winning streak even without producing runs like he did last season. He's done it with a glove that's been just as good as advertised and has been making the entire team better as a result.
There are the obviously great plays, like the one he made to rob Milton Bradley of a double in the eighth inning on Wednesday. Bradley scorched a ball down the line, Beltre made the play without a problem and then gunned the troubled Mariner down with a one-hop strike that was right on the money.
Does Michael Young make that play? No real need to answer that one.
Web gems aren't the only thing that makes Beltre's defense special, though. Think back to Monday, when Elvis Andrus made a play behind second on an Ichiro grounder and then gunned the speedy one out at first. If Beltre doesn't have such tremendous range, Andrus has to play more in the hole and there's no way he gets to Ichiro's hit in time to make the out. Then Ichiro is on base, Derek Holland has to deal with a baserunner and who knows what might happen from there.
These things are going to keep happening this season and will likely be overlooked in favor of a focus on the team's hitting and pitching. But if the pitching continues to be better than expected, you can be sure that Beltre's presence is part of the reason why.