Section 518

Where we endeavor to stay positive about the 2011 Mets…

That Carlos Beltran, He’s Pretty Good

Posted by JD on July 29, 2010

I know there’s a lot going on today, what with Roy Oswalt joining the Phillies and R.A. Dickey holding the Cardinals to just three hits over 8 1/3 innings, but I’d like to address something that’s been festering with me for the past two weeks. It’s become pretty clear that Mets fans have split into two camps: those who properly value Carlos Beltran, and those who think he’s some sort of clubhouse cancer. I’m so deeply embedded in the first camp that I struggle to comprehend the second camp’s argument.

Beltran has now appeared in 13 games for the Mets. He’s still a bit tentative in the field and his .702 OPS is well below his career .855 mark, but he’s still more productive than Jeff Francoeur (.670 OPS after today’s game). Of course, the anti-Beltran camp’s argument isn’t rooted in statistics: they seem to be fascinated with the all-important (and ambiguous) factor of “chemistry”. According to one theory, Carlos Beltran and Oliver Perez destroyed the the team’s chemistry as soon as they walked in the door. The Mets’ 2-9 road trip happened because Beltran and Perez simply don’t play well with others.

That’s unacceptable to me. Yes, I understand that you’re still mad that Beltran took that curveball in 2006. I wish he’d swung at it, too. Heck, I wish he’d hit that pitch over the Whitestone Bridge. But that was just one sour moment in a fine Mets career. He’s played 689 games for the Mets, in which he has hit 128 home runs (6th in franchise history), scored 473 runs (11th), and has an .870 OPS (5th). Beltran also has accounted for 26.7 WAR (using Baseball Reference’s calculation), good for 5th in franchise history. Simply put, he’s one of the very best position players this franchise has ever fielded. Any “chemistry” concerns can go pound sand.

That brings us to the heart of this (pointless) debate: those fans who don’t care for Beltran also don’t care for statistics, advanced or otherwise. They “know what they see” and don’t need to dig any deeper. A part of me understands this: I can’t tell you how to calculate WAR, and I struggle to understand some of the more advanced statistics. But I can tell you this: I’ve been to plenty of games at Shea Stadium and Citi Field, and I’ve seen Carlos Beltran steal bases, make gravity-defying catches, and hit titanic home runs. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. And the fact that some Mets fans haven’t makes me wonder what they were watching.

Carlos Beltran is awesome, and your argument is not valid.

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6 Responses to “That Carlos Beltran, He’s Pretty Good”

  1. david said

    Thank you so much for this post. Fans who don’t understand the value of Carlos have been a source of incredible frustration to me as well. Every time Mike Francesca talks about how Mets fans don’t like Carlos Beltran I become so agitated, because that doesn’t speak for any of us who are capable of seeing how good he is. And honestly even without statistics how could people miss it? He does everything well…what do they want exactly?

  2. I couldn’t agree more. But I guess a sinking ship needs scapegoats, and somehow, Beltran is now the guy. A while back on my blog I included Beltran in a short series called “Under the Radar,” arguing that even though he plays in New York, he has been an underrated ballplayer for a long time.
    Beltran may be past his prime, but it’s too early to draw that conclusion.
    But Beltran didn’t construct this team. Nor can he manage it, become a starting pitcher, or pitch out of the bullpen. He also cannot make Jose Reyes a healthy player. Nor can he re-teach Jason Bay how to hit Major League pitching.
    What he can do his play the best that he can, and there’s no reason to believe he is doing otherwise.
    Spot on post, Bill

  3. great post JD… Jay and I were talking about Beltran this afternoon(Jay knows he is by far my favorite Met) and he asked me if I had read your post on him… He told me I would love it and he was right..

  4. DJ said

    Whether he’s a cancer or not is largely secondary to the fact that he CAN’T PLAY anymore and is pulling down 18.5MM bucks this year AND next year.
    Perhaps you should revise your summation to read “Carlos Beltran was awesome before 2009 and the argument about him being a clubhouse cancer or not is basically irrelevant by comparison.”

    • JD said

      It’s not conclusive that he “can’t play” anymore: he is still working his way back from a serious injury. You can argue that he should be in right field instead of center (I won’t disagree), but you can’t ignore the fact that if he regains even just 75% of his prior skill level he can still be a major contributor to the team.

  5. Paul E said

    Wow!! JD,
    Love the 75% comment-Wilpon must have been channelling you last month. Beltran is truly a great player who once was a 5-tool monster…under rated? Absolutely. Well compensated for his efforts? Yeah! But, every one of these guys who were free-agent superstars definitely are going downhill by year 7 of a long term deal. Still, he’s at 144 OPS+ (Mike Schmidt was 147 for his career)

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