The first two months of the season, there were a lot of Cardinals fans that reveled in the misery that Albert Pujols was experiencing at the plate. Pujols got off to an astronomically slow start in the City of Angels and the media couldn't get enough.
But as the season is closing in on the halfway point, it is interesting to compare the numbers of those who were called on to replace Albert in the Cardinals.
Quickly after Albert decided to take the money and run, the Cardinals went out and signed Carlos Beltran. Beltran has turned out to be the Lance Berkman of the 2012 Cardinals. As you probably remember, Berkman came into last season as a mid-30's player on the downside of his career. He surprised everyone and hit 31 home runs and drove in 94 runs.
Beltran went into Wednesday's play second in the NL in home runs with 19 and fourth in RBIs with 48. He has played nearly everyday and is hitting over .300. His defense hasn't appeared to suffered much with his aging knees. All in all, Beltran has been a phenomenal pickup for the Cardinals.
As mentioned, Pujols' line this year has been less than impressive, even with his latest burst at the plate. Here is his current line at the time of writing
Here is Beltran's line so far this season:
It's clearly evident that Beltran has, at least for the first half of this season, far outperformed Albert Pujols. These number are a far cry from what Pujols is used to putting up in any given season. Pujols is on pace to hit less than 30 home runs and barely drive in 100 runs. He also well off the pace of scoring over 100 runs in a season and his .OPS is .264 below is career average.
Beltran is also a leader in All-Star voting and is currently holding down a starting position for the Senior Circuit.
Who knows what the future will hold for the rest of this season. Pujols is starting to heat up a bit as the summer gets into full swing and he may go on a tear. But the world deals in here and now scenario's and right now, Beltran has clearly been the better player.
So as far as the Cardinal offense skipping any beats without El Hombre, it just hasn't happened. While #5 will always have a special place in hearts of Cardinal Nation, Beltran's #3 is front and center in the Gateway to the West.