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Houston — It took quite some time, but Carlos Beltran finally got there, winning a World Series title after 20 seasons in the majors.

Now he is leaving the Astros and leaving baseball, retiring after a career in which he was a nine-time All-Star and was Rookie of the Year. Beltran, a 40-year-old designated hitter and outfielder, made the announcement Monday, 12 days after the Astros beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 7 of the World Series.

He announced his retirement in an essay written for The Players’ Tribune website. His story touched on what finally winning a championship meant to him.

“I realized early on that my purpose in this game was to share knowledge with younger players and to give back to the game of baseball,” he wrote. “I always wanted to do that — that, and be the best teammate I could possibly be. Over 20 years, I feel like I accomplished that.

“So whether we won or lost Game 7, I would have still been happy with my career. But it still feels nice to have a ring,” he continued.

Besides being named an All-Star nine times, most recently in 2016, and the 1999 AL Rookie of the Year, he won three Gold Glove and two Silver Slugger awards.

His production dropped dramatically this year. He hit .295 with 29 homers and 93 RBIs for the Yankees and Texas in 2016. He then batted .231 with 14 homers and 51 RBIs for Houston. Despite that, Beltran’s veteran presence and his work with Houston’s younger players including Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Marwin Gonzalez proved invaluable for the Astros.

“He was worth every penny for us … he helped us win in a lot of ways, even though his numbers were not what they were last year, he contributed in a lot of ways that were not really seen by our fans,” Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow said. “They were talked about a lot by our players. Also I think people know what I’m talking about. He really was a player-coach for us this year and he contributed in ways that lead me to believe there’s no way we win the championship without him this year.”

He finishes with a .279 average, 435 homers, 1,587 RBIs and 312 stolen bases. He also has played for Kansas City, the New York Mets, San Francisco and St. Louis.

Judge, Bellinger top rookies

Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger are baseball’s Rookies of the Year for 2017 after their record-setting home run binges eliminated any reasonable competition for the honors. Judge led the American League with 52 homers, the most ever by a rookie. Bellinger hit 39 and had to settle for the National League’s rookie record.

Judge and Bellinger received every first-place vote available from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Judge became the first Yankees player to receive this award since Derek Jeter in 1996. Bellinger gave the Dodgers a record 18th Rookie of the Year winner.

Boston outfielder Andrew Benintendi finished second in the AL vote, followed by Baltimore slugger Trey Mancini. St. Louis infielder Paul DeJong was the NL runner-up, with Pittsburgh first baseman Josh Bell finishing third.

Judge is also a finalist for the MVP award. Ichiro Suzuki in 2001 and Fred Lynn in 1975 are the only players to win the AL MVP and Rookie of the Year awards in the same season.

Around the horn

The Braves hired Alex Anthopoulos, a former Dodgers and Blue Jays executive, as their general manager, giving the team a young but experienced leader to provide stability amid a crisis.

Anthopoulos also was named executive vice president in control of baseball operations.

Anthopoulos succeeds John Coppolella, who was forced to resign on Oct. 2 after an ongoing investigation by Major League Baseball disclosed rule violations committed by the Braves in the international player market.

... The Dodgers and Padres will play a three-game series at Monterrey, Mexico, from May 4-6.

The games had been originally scheduled for San Diego’s Petco Park, and the Padres will remain the home team.

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