As the New York Mets hit the halfway point of the season one of the highlights this season has been the play of Carlos Beltran.Coming into the season the concern was how will Beltran's knee hold up and how much playing time can he be expected to contribute this season. After 81 games Beltran's knee is holding up well. How well? In 81 games played Beltran has started 75 of them 2nd only to Reyes with 78 and has appeared in 79 games overall. 1st among his teammates.Beltran is not just playing every day but he is a big part of that lineup.Beltran in 2011 is hitting:
  • 288/AB .281/BA .370/OBP .493/SLG 12/HR 54/RBI 43/R
Over at a topic that is brought up from time to time is the concern that upon the return of David Wright (who is rehabbing from a stress fracture) he will be placed in the 3 spot in place of Beltran.This year when Wright went on the DL he was hitting from the 3 spot:
  • 146/AB .226/BA .337/OBP .404/SLG 6/HR 18/RBI 23/R
If and when Wright returns who can say where Collins will bat Wright in the lineup but my opinion is that except for the 2008 season historically Beltran has always been the Mets preferred 3 spot hitter and Wright has only batted 3rd due to Beltran being on the DL or slowly returning from an injury.Since joining the Mets in 2005 here is a breakdown between Beltran & Wright on the number of Games Started batting in the 3 spot.If you notice since signing Beltran has been the teams 3 spot hitter. It was not until 2007 that Wright didn't start seeing considerable time batting in the 3 spot.The reason why Wright started to bat 3rd? On July 25 Carlos Beltran strained an abdominal muscle during batting practice and was scratched from the New York Mets' lineup. 6 days later Beltran was placed on the 15–day disabled list, retroactive to July 25. He was replaced by newly-acquired 2B Luis Castillo on the roster.On August 10 Beltran returned to the lineup but other than 3 games he finished the season batting in the 4 spot.Now like I said earlier 2008 is the one season where Wright batting 3rd does not seem to have anything to do with Beltran being injured. In 2008 Wright started 158 games batting in the 3 spot while Beltran who appeared in 161 games that year started no games 1 game in the 3 spot.What did Wright and Beltran hit that year?
  • Wright: 626/AB .302/BA .390/OBP .534/SLG 33/HR 124/RBI 115/R
  • Beltran: 606/AB .284/BA .376/OBP .500/SLG 27/HR 112/RBI 116/R
In 2009 despite the numbers Wright put up in 2008 Beltran was once again back in the 3 spot to start the season. In fact Beltran started in the 3 spot in 45 of the teams 1st 67 games played before giving way to Wright taking over and batting 3rd for the remainder of the season. The reason why this time? On June 22nd Beltran was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a bone bruise on his right knee.Beltran returned from the DL September 8th but finished the season starting in the 4 spot in 18 of teams last 25 games.In 2010 with Beltran not starting the season with the team as he recovered from a controversial surgery he had in January of that year. Wright was the primary batter used for the 3 spot but not before a brief 20 game experiment with Reyes batting in the 3 spot followed by a 21 game experiment with Jason Bay (Yes Jason Bay) in the 3 spot. On July 15th Beltran was finally activated from the DL. From the remaining 74 games Beltran started in the 3 spot in 36 of those games while Wright started in the 3 spot in 21 of those games.Which brings us to 2011. You have a new manager that didn't really know how much he could lean on Beltran to start the season. In fact Beltran barely had a Spring Training as the Mets carefully handled him in trying to get him back into the lineup. So It would be hard to argue how Collins could not go to Wright as his primary 3 spot hitter to start the season. Now with the roles reversed and Wright working his way back into the lineup combined with how well Beltran has played and held up this season the idea that Collins would place Wright in the 3 spot while possible just doesn't seem the most likely scenario.Beltran has almost always been viewed as the Mets best 3 spot hitter and outside of injury I would expect to see him continue to do so for the remainder of this season.Below I leave you with a breakdown of games started in the 3 spot by Mets players since 2005.Source:2007 New York Mets Batting Orders - Link2008 New York Mets Batting Orders - Link2009 New York Mets Batting Orders - Link2010 New York Mets Batting Orders - Link