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11/11/10 6:00 PM EST

Beltre claims second Silver Slugger Award

Free agent a pleasant surprise at the plate with Boston in 2010

They got him mainly for his glove. And that's why Adrian Beltre's sizzling summer at the plate was such a bonus for the 2010 Red Sox. Beltre, who is now a free agent, was recognized for his considerable achievements on Thursday, when he was named one of the American League's Silver Slugger Award winners.

In other words, in the minds of the managers and coaches who voted for the Silver Sluggers, Beltre was the best offensive third baseman in the AL in 2010.

In a year that saw Beltre get hot early -- en route to his first All-Star Game appearance -- and never really stop, the 31-year-old right-handed hitter notched the second Silver Slugger Award of his career, and his first since he won a National League Silver Slugger with the Dodgers in 2004.

During a season in which several impact players were out of Boston's lineup for a large chunk of the season, Beltre was a constant force. His 28 homers were the most for a Red Sox third baseman since Butch Hobson belted 30 in 1977. His 102 RBIs were 10th in the AL and tied with David Ortiz for the team lead. Beltre was fourth in the Majors with 79 extra-base hits -- a record for a Boston third baseman, surpassing Hall of Famer Wade Boggs, who had 70 in '87.

With all of his production, Beltre proved to be a pure hitter as well, batting .321.

"With A.B., you kind of have to get to know him a little bit," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said recently. "Once that happened, he became more vocal in the dugout -- he became a leader on the field. If you ask everybody [in the clubhouse], they love him, myself included. He was a real treat.

The American League winners of the Silver Slugger Awards, with the number each has won in his career.
C Joe Mauer, Twins 4
1B Miguel Cabrera, Tigers 3
2B Robinson Cano, Yankees 2
3B Adrian Beltre, Red Sox 2
SS Alexei Ramirez, White Sox 1
OF Jose Bautista, Blue Jays 1
OF Carl Crawford, Rays 1
OF Josh Hamilton, Rangers 2
DH Vladimir Guerrero, Rangers 8

"We were just used to seeing him from the other side of the field. Then, we saw what he could do defensively. You'd see that spark, and then he'd beat us with a big swing. But when you see what he did every day, [even when he was] beat up, he's a real pro."

In 2009, the Red Sox's only Silver Slugger Award winner was recently departed outfielder Jason Bay.

Beltre is the first Red Sox third baseman to win the award since Bill Mueller did so in 2003, when the switch-hitter led the league with a .326 batting average and added 19 home runs. Melvin Mora won it in 2004, Alex Rodriguez took the honor in three of the next four years -- with Joe Crede getting in A-Rod's way in '06 -- and the Rays' Evan Longoria won it in '09.

This season, Beltre beat out Longoria -- who hit .294 with 22 homers, 104 RBIs and an .879 OPS -- in batting average, home runs and OPS, and he had just two fewer RBIs than Tampa Bay's young star.

But Longoria did beat out Beltre for the AL Gold Glove Award, announced on Tuesday.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.