Beltran: Best Positional Player in Team History?

Beltran: Best Positional Player in Team History?

Beltran: Best Positional Player in Team History?

From Mike Silva - his blog is NY Baseball Digest

The three homers by Carlos Beltran yesterday afternoon reminded everyone of the player that has spent the majority of his time playing for the Mets. You always hear about Beltran’s at bat in the 2006 NLCS, or his recent rash of knee injuries, but many pundits conveniently forget how good Beltran was from 2006 to mid season 2009. We don’t know how much time he’s got left in a Mets uniform, but it makes me wonder if he will go down as the best offensive player in Mets history.

Can it be proved numerically? Using Baseball Reference Wins Above Replacement (WAR), which combines offensive and defensive value, Beltran has been worth 30.2 wins through yesterday’s action. This is third in team history behind Darryl Strawberry (37.7) and David Wright (31.6). Using OPS+, which weights offensive performance against the league average and is adjusted for ballpark, Beltran is currently at 127, sixth in team history.

The advanced metrics suggest that Beltran is still behind Darryl Strawberry, and may not even be as productive as David Wright. When you combine his offensive performance, defensive prowess, and the important position of centerfield, one could make the argument that Beltran is the best overall player in team history.

Strawberry was a fearsome power hitter, but never considered the best defensively at his position. There is a better argument for Wright, but a gold glove centerfielder is far more valuable than at third base.

The one area that may ultimately knock Beltran down is speed, an area that Strawberry excelled in. When he came to the Mets there was an expectation he would routinely steal 50 bases. His Mets high was 25 in 2008. Perhaps the knees were already starting to bother him early in the contract, and he wanted to preserve his health.

It’s a very tough call about Beltran’s place in Mets history. Unfortunately, one at bat will probably lead to a lifetime polarizing debate about his value. Sometime in the near future I suspect Mets fans will realize how good a player they had the last seven years. Maybe after he is gone he will be appreciated properly.

Is Beltran’s Year Surprising?

The only reason I am surprised by Beltran’s performance to date (.295, 8, 25) is due to the severity of his knee injury. The bone on bone injury is extremely painful, and dealing with that certainly will impact you in the field and at the plate. Clearly, he is no longer the defensive player he once was, but offensively he hasn’t missed a beat since September of last year. The fact he’s been able to play every day, including day games after night games, is astonishing. Still think he is soft?

Beltran had 5 homers and 21 RBI’s in 20 September games before he was shut down. If healthy, there is no doubt the guy can hit. Perhaps it’s time to move him to third in the order with David Wright slumping.

Maybe the only question left is whether Beltran can yield a decent return come the July trading deadline. Right now, you would have to imagine he has a tremendous amount of value for a contending team in need of offense.

By The Baseball Page
Friday, 13 May 2011


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