The offense is obvious, easy to quantify and clearly understood. Adrian Beltre of the Texas Rangers hit three home runs Wednesday, and two days later, he hit for the cycle. The last player to accomplish both feats in the same week was Joe DiMaggio, in 1948.

But what truly distinguishes Beltre, what makes him perhaps the most underappreciated performer in baseball, is the way he plays third base. It is not only that Beltre, a three-time Gold Glove winner, is the best in the majors at the position. It is that he plays it with a style that defies logic, and he uses a blend of skill, strength, intellect and instinct that is all his own.

''Think about a lot of the best players and how they did things that were indigenous to them," Joe Maddon, the manager of the Tampa Bay Rays, said after watching Beltre for three games this week.

Maddon mentioned Ozzie Smith's flair at shortstop, Stan Musial's coiled batting stance and the way Steve Carlton wrapped his left wrist before unleashing a slider.