I figured I’d take a break from the exciting dullness of Spring Training and let my imagination drift in a different direction. Watching Mets Classics (or something to that effect) over the last few weeks, I must say, seeing Carlos Beltran in the Orange & Blue again was, for lack of a better word, awesome.
I found myself not remembering him for Game 7 in 2006 (not going to get into that), but for his six-plus seasons of, like it or not folks, five-tool baseball he played here in Flushing. Sure, there were some injuries. And there were even down times. For the amount of money The Wilpons were paying him, naturally, there was (and still is) discord among fans as to whether Beltran was worth the contract the Mets gave him.
The New York Mets signed Beltran, then entering his 28-year-old season, to a seven-year, $119 million deal, at the time the most-expensive contract ever given out by the team. Over his 839-game tenure in Queens, he slashed .280/.369/.500 with 149 HR, 559 RBI, 208 doubles, 100 stolen bases, an OPS+ of 129, and 31.3 WAR (4.3 dWAR).
If you break down those numbers, injuries, and downtime and all, into 162-game averages, his numbers are as follows: 28.31 HR/162, 106.21 RBI/162, 39.52 doubles/162, and 19 SB/162. Just for kicks, and to call-back that five-tool comment from before, 0.81 dWAR per 162.
Over the course of Beltran’s 20-year career, his numbers are still incredibly impressive and should make him (maybe not first-ballot) a Hall-of-Famer one day. Over 2,586 games played, his slash line is .279/350/.486 (119 OPS+). His 2,725 hits, 435 HR, 1,587 RBI, 565 doubles and 312 stolen bases put him in rarefied air.
Throw in his ridiculous (like ’90s Yankees good) postseason-numbers and his case for Cooperstown becomes even clearer. In 65 games played, Beltran has 16 HR, 42 RBI, a .307 average, and an OPS of 1.021. And yes, I remember 2006 versus Adam Wainwright.
But do you remember that in the 2006 NLCS against St. Louis, Beltran went 8-for-27 with three HR, four RBI, 18 total bases (his third most in a playoff series after 24 in ’04 NLDS and 23 in ’04 NLCS with Houston) and a 1.054 OPS? Many don’t. Again, his mega-contract was worth every penny that the Mets invested in it. Plus, they got back a player who could still turn into a force, Zack Wheeler.
His Similarity Scores on baseball-reference.com have him listed among Hall of Fame-outfielders Andre Dawson and Dave Winfield, as well as 2019 enshrinee, Larry Jones. OK, Chipper Jones, but only because he’s a HOF’er now.
I have no doubt in my mind that Carlos Beltran will one day also be inducted into the corridors of baseball immortality. The only question in my mind is, does he go in with a Mets or Royals cap on his head? Or neither? Or none?
That’s actually an easy answer, in my opinion. We’ve already covered his Mets career numbers above. In almost the same amount of time with Kansas City (795 games there, 839 in NY), Beltran’s stats are close to where he was at over his Mets tenure, but not close enough to justify an interlocked KC on his plaque.
In seven seasons with the Royals, he slashed .287/.352/.483 with 123 HR and 516 RBI. These are all very comparable numbers to his time in the Orange & Blue.
It’s his (semi) advanced stats that tell the difference between his two longest-tenured stays in MLB. His WAR with the Mets was 31.3 (4.3 dWAR) and his OPS+ was 129. With Kansas City, his WAR was 24.7 (3.8 dWAR) and he carried an OPS+ of 111.
While the disparity certainly isn’t significant, it’s enough to make Carlos Beltran the third HOF’er to have that beautiful (also) interlocked NY on his cap. At the very least he’ll have no insignia on his plaque at all. While that would be a huge personal letdown, I’d be happy just to see one more of our own get inducted.