With Carlos Beltran’s historic day now in forefront many including myself are hoping the Mets can take advantage of what a healthy Carlos Beltran can bring. Not just in terms of the multitude of trade Beltran proposals but also in the standings.
However, this morning I am choosing to take a path of reflection. Beltran during his tenure with the Mets has been one of the most polarizing figures to don a uniform. After signing a large 7 year 119 Million dollar deal Beltran did not endear himself to the fans quickly. Like many before and a significant number afterward Beltran struggled in his first year in Queens. A 2005 slash line of .266/.330/.414/.744 with an OPS+ of under 100 Beltran was often booed for his lack of production. Seeing Beltran as already a guy who just cashed in on a hot playoff performance in 2004 many fans by the time 2006 rolled around had already written him off like this year’s Jason Bay. (No I am not making ability comparisons here).
However in 2006 Beltran silenced many of his critics posting what could be regarded as the best offensive season in Mets history. With 41 HR (tied for Mets record), 127 Runs (Mets record), 116 RBI, 18/21 in steals, 150 OPS+ a definite case can be made. Beltran was ready to take the stage as the dominant player that all Mets fans could love until…. the post season. What many forget is that after struggling in the divisional series vs the Dodgers, Beltran responded with 3 HR vs the Cardinals with an OPS of 1.054. Ultimately with the series on the line and Adam Wainwright on the mound there was no other Mets hitter that I would have wanted up.
We know what happen from there but perhaps here is where the Mets fans cursed themselves. Instead of celebrating a great 2006 season, many Mets fans sought someone to blame. Enter the 120 million dollar man. Labeled now as a choke artist, the same guy who has a career 1.302 OPS in the playoffs, Beltran was booed by many on opening day for falling victim to what may have been one of the nastiest curveballs of our generation. Perhaps many Mets fans got what they deserved in 2007 and 2008.
Over the course of the next 2 seasons Beltran continued to prove his worth even though the Mets as a whole could not get the job done. With an average OPS+ of 127 while playing a flawless CF Beltran produced even during the two “collapses” hitting 8 HR in September of 2007 amassing 23 RBI during that time. During 2008 Beltran bettered those stats with an astounding 1.086 OPS+ during September that featured a .440 OBP and SLG of .646. Yet Beltran could not seem to shake the moniker of soft or a choke artist.
Enter 2009, here is where the Beltran haters get more fuel. While contributing at a rate that would have been one of his finest seasons with a .336, .425, .527, .952 line through June 21st Beltran could take the pain of his damaged knees no longer and was placed on the DL. Wanting to be back with the team as quickly as possible Beltran rushed himself back for September in a season already lost. While his OBP stayed high, you could tell his defense and power struggled. Rumors of surgery being needed surrounded the Mets circles.
However, it appeared that Beltran could be ready for 2010 only for the Mets and their fans to be surprised with Beltran choosing to have surgery early in 2010. Carlos would miss 88 games to come back on July 15th. Many viewed Carlos’ comeback as rushed as he did not spend significant game time in the minors before his return. Beltran struggled in July and August producing his worst numbers of his tenure. Dejecters viewed this as the end for Beltran proclaiming him washed up. In September he was able to rebound to a .967 OPS. Of course Beltran continued to be a question mark most of the past off-season and his availability for the start of 2011 was in question.
Terry Collins proclaimed that Beltran would get plenty of days off and would most assuredly not play in day games after night games. Thus Carlos sat out games 3, 6, 9, 12. Since game 13 Beltran has started every game including both ends of a double header. During this span Beltran has had a .996 OPS with 6 HR, 8 2B and a SLG% 2 points from .600. In a year that the Mets have struggled with RISP Beltran has a .963 OPS in that situation.
So where does Beltran rank all-time with the Mets? Take a look:
Season rankings all-time:
3rd WAR (8.0 trailing 1st place by .1)
4th Offensive WAR
One of only 5 Mets to play 161 or more games in a season.
1st in runs scored
Tied for 1st in HR
6th in RBI
5th Offensive WAR
3rd Defensive WAR
10th Runs Scored
10th Total bases
7th Extra Base Hits
You can see these stats and others I omitted because I don’t know what the hell they are at Baseball-Reference.
Soon, and we think it’s bad now, Beltran trade rumors will heat up. Of course there is little reasoning for the Mets to keep Beltran unless they are truly in contention. However, for now lets enjoy watching one of the greatest Mets of all-time spend his last days as a Met with pride in his accomplishments. For when he is gone he will be surely missed.