What was once thought to be a disaster situation for the New York Mets turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
The Mets played the entire first half of the season without center fielder Carlos Beltran, and not only managed to keep their heads above water, but have been one of the best teams in the National League.
A lot of New York's early success was because of Angel Pagan. He finished the first half as one of the best hitting center fielders in all of baseball, hitting over .300, while supplying some power, driving in runs, and stealing bases.
Gee, almost sounds like what the Mets wished they could have gotten out of Beltran, who’s only a career .284 hitter.
With Beltran returning to the lineup, the Mets can only hope they’re getting the Gold Glove center fielder they inked a few years back, and that he boosts New York’s power numbers.
But most important, the Mets need Beltran to add to Pagan’s production, and continue to find the gaps in the outfield, stretch doubles into triples, and steal bases.
New York is in its second season in its new ballpark, Citi Field, which has become one of the best pitching parks in baseball.
Its cavernous right-center field plays to the advantage of Mets hitters, who turn line drives in the gaps into triples, and on defense, use their speed to track down fly balls.
Carlos Beltran will bring with him an old man on bad knees (seems to be a theme with struggling New York sports teams, ask Patrick Ewing, Allan Houston and Mike Piazza).
Beltran was once coveted as an elusive five-tool player. He was a Gold Glove defender, a thief on the bases, could hit for average and power, and had a rifle from center field.
Well, the power numbers have been down over the last few seasons, and don’t expect them to get better in Citi Field.
Will the speed be there after micro fracture knee surgery? Eh, probably not, which means his stolen base numbers and range in the outfield are down.
Beltran should still hit for average, but will a second half line of .275 and seven homers really be the boost the Mets need?
As it is, Beltran is displacing Jeff Francoeur in the outfield, with Angel Pagan sliding over to right field. Francoeur has one of the best outfield arms in all of baseball, so losing him won’t help New York.
But, with roughly two and a half months of baseball to play before the playoffs, Beltran should continue to help the Mets.
Despite getting thrown out stealing by Buster Posey last night, Mets fans and Beltran fantasy owners should be encouraged that in his only appearance on the bases all night, he tried to steal.
If Beltran continues to be aggressive on the bases, he’ll be a major contributing factor in the Mets playoff chances.