Don't Hate the Playa: It's Time to Show Carlos Beltran Some Love

Lou CappettaAnalyst IIFebruary 7, 2009

There is a baseball player who plays in New York who arguably is the best player at his position. A player so good, he is almost an automatic 30 homers, 100 runs, 100 RBI, 25 steals, and a gold glove, yet for some odd reason the fans refuse to embrace him. Oh, and by the way, his name is not Alex Rodriguez. It's Carlos Beltran.

Maybe it's the slow start he got off to (.266, 16, 78 in 2005) after signing a huge free agent contract prior to the 2005 season. Maybe it's the revelation that Beltran offered his services to the evil empire of the Bronx at the very last minute (and at a discount) before signing on the dotted line with Minaya and company.

Maybe it's watching Adam Wainwright's curve ball buckle Beltran's knees, ending the 2006 season with a bat resting harmlessly on Carlos's shoulder, the only blemish on a stellar resume of clutch performances. Whatever the reason, fans have had hard time warming up to Carlos Beltran and it needs to stop now.

Carlos Beltran is a great player who is good at everything but not great at anything. He hits for power, but not like Ryan Howard. He drives in runs, but not like Manny Ramirez. He scores runs, but not like Jose Reyes. He hits for a decent average, but nothing like Albert Pujols. He wins Gold Gloves but he plays too deep and he's no Torii Hunter.

Last season Carlos Beltran batted .284, hit 27 home runs, drove in 112 runs, scored 116 runs, stole 25 bases, hit 40 doubles, and had a .376 on base percentage. He also won his third straight Gold Glove award, and was the only Mets player to hit in September. Most players would call that a career year, but for Beltran it's a typical one. 

How many center fielders hit at least .280 with 25 homers, 100 runs scored, 100 RBI, and 25 steals? One. How many players in general put up those numbers last season? One. It wasn't Grady Sizemore. It wasn't Alex Rodriguez. It wasn't Manny Ramirez, Jimmy Rollins, or Torii Hunter. It was Carlos Beltran.

Last September, while most of the more popular Mets struggled offensively (Jose Reyes), Beltran hit .344 with 6 HRs, 19 RBI, and 22 runs scored in 25 games played. He hit the final Mets homer at Shea, a two run shot that tied the game and gave the Mets season a stay of execution. It would be the only two runs the Mets could muster against the Marlins that day and they didn't come off the bat of David wright or Carlos Delgado. It was Carlos Beltran.

The number for Carlos Beltran don't lie. The clutch performances (other than the 2006 NLCS) don't lie either. Still, for whatever reason, Mets fan just can't give him his due. Beltran's Mets career seems destined to be a classic example of not knowing what you've got until it's gone. That is something Mets fans are great at, just ask Mike Piazza.