4 Reasons Why Carlos Beltran Has Struggled with the Giants
Carlos Beltran has only been a Giant for a month, and half of his time in the Orange and Black has been spent out of the lineup due to injury.
Nonetheless, his numbers haven't been what the Giants hoped for or expected.
In 12 games with the Giants so far, Beltran is hitting just .239 with no home runs, two RBI, 11 strikeouts, one walk, a .255 OBP and a .348 slugging percentage.
So what happened?
Here are four reasons for Beltran's San Francisco struggles ...
1. No Jose Reyes (or Anything Close, for That Matter) Hitting Before Beltran
A big reason for Carlos Beltran's run production with the Mets this season has been a healthy Jose Reyes who is in a contract season of his own.
Reyes, even after the departure of Beltran, is having a good offensive season, leading the league in batting average (.336), and having a productive year all around with 26 doubles, 16 triples and 34 stolen bases so far in 2011.
Reyes' .377 on-base percentage meant that Carlos Beltran often had runners on base while at the plate, resulting in more RBI chances and more RBI for Beltran.
Now that Beltran is with the Giants, the hitters that precede him in the lineup are not at all Reyes-like.
So far this season Giants Manager Bruce Bochy has had Andres Torres and Aaron Rowand platooning in the leadoff spot, mostly due to Torres' injuries this season.
Neither of them is having any success offensively. Following a breakout season in 2010, Torres is hitting just .228 with three home runs, 18 RBI and just a .317 on-base percentage in 2011.
Aaron Rowand is hitting just .235 with four home runs, 21 RBI and a meager .276 on-base percentage.
2. Beltran, Who Had Lineup Protection in New York, Doesn't in San Francisco
David Wright was injured for a good part of the first half of the 2011 season, but Wright had been Beltran's personal protector in the Mets' lineup since Beltran was acquired by New York in 2004.
Wright is hitting .255 with 10 home runs and 40 RBI in 70 games this year, and is a career .301 hitter with 179 home runs and 704 RBI in seven seasons.
Clearly, the threat of Wright hitting with men on base resulted in better pitches being thrown to the man who usually hit in front of him with the Mets, Carlos Beltran.
Now that Beltran is a Giant, and Bruce Bochy has been hitting him in the cleanup spot in the order, the only potential lineup protector for Beltran is hitting in front of him: Pablo Sandoval.
The man that would then be left to protect Beltran in the lineup would be Aubrey Huff, whom Bruce Bochy has insisted on keeping in the lineup despite a very poor season thus far (.248, 12 HR, 54 RBI, .305 OBP) and severe criticism over not giving rookie Brandon Belt an everyday role.
Without a decent hitting threat behind him in the order, Beltran has been pitched to differently with the Giants than with the Mets.
3. The Hitting-Centric Culture in New York Is Not Present in San Francisco
The San Francisco Giants are dead-last in the NL in both of those categories.
The Mets have scored 569 runs this season. The Giants have scored 444.
For Carlos Beltran, moving from New York to San Francisco was much more than traveling 3,000 miles and putting on a different uniform.
It was going from a team with an offensive culture to a team that struggles mightily to score runs.
It has meant that Beltran has had to take on the role of a coach, helping other professional hitters improve their swings and their approach at the plate.
Most notably, Beltran has tried to help Andres Torres find the swing that he had in 2010.
In New York, the hits and runs came.
In San Francisco, it's not at all a foregone conclusion that the Giants will score even two runs on any given day.
4. For the First Time in His Career, It's All Up to Carlos Beltran
Carlos Beltran came up with the Kansas City Royals, and his club was never really a contender during his time there.
When he was traded to the Houston Astros in mid-2004, he was thrust into a playoff race but was not burdened with the expectations of producing for a club that otherwise had an anemic offense. Those Astros had the likes of Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Jeff Kent and Lance Berkman in a dangerous lineup.
When the Mets acquired Beltran, they had plenty of good hitting as well, including the man who would hit behind Beltran, David Wright.
Now, for the first time in Beltran's career, he is on a club that is pushing for a postseason berth without a competent offense, placing a huge burden on his shoulders that he has not had to carry in the past.
How Beltran will handle these pressures remains to be seen, but so far, the result has not been what San Francisco hoped for when trading for him just prior to the July 31 deadline.
It's Crunch Time for Beltran and the Giants
As Carlos Beltran makes his return to the Giants' lineup, a lot of questions remain to be answered, the most significant of which surrounds San Francisco's postseason chances.
Will Beltran and Sandoval be enough to carry a Giants offense that has so far been unable to support its elite pitching staff?
If the Giants do make the playoffs, the question will quickly become whether other Giants will step up as they did when San Francisco made an improbable run to a World Series title.
With the NL West being the only remaining competitive race in Major League Baseball as September nears, all eyes will be on Carlos Beltran and his new team as they sprint, or hobble, as the case may be, to the finish line.