Who Am I?
Designated hitter / “left fielder”
Height: 6′ 1″
Switch hitter, throws right
How Did I Get Here?
With a career this long, we’re going to bullet points:
- Beltran was a 2nd round pick by the Royals in 1995. When the man was drafted, the Braves were still playing in Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium… that was two stadiums ago for them.
- Beltran came to Houston in June 2004 in a three-team deal that sent Octavio Dotel to Oakland and John Buck to Kansas City, with some spare parts going from Oakland to KC.
- You may have forgotten this, but Beltran then signed with the Mets as a free agent following the 2005 season.
- At the end of his Mets deal in 2011, he was traded at the deadline to San Francisco for Zack Wheeler. (Note: I legitimately did forget that he was ever a Giant.)
- A free agent again, Beltran signed with the Cardinals following the 2011 season.
- He actually made it all the way through a contract with one team, leaving the Cardinals for the Yankees after 2013.
- The Yankees then traded him to Texas at the 2016 deadline in exchange for Nick Green, Erik Swanson, and Dillon Tate.
- Beltran finally signed as a free agent with Houston in December 2016.
For those scoring at home.. since his last stint in Houston, Beltran has been a Met, (a Giant), a Cardinal, a Yankee, and a Ranger. He was one Braves uniform away from hitting for the “I hate these guys!” cycle.
Just how long has Beltran been playing? When Beltran debuted on September 14, 1998:
- Google was 10 days old.
- Only two Harry Potter books had been published.
- Only three Star Wars movies existed.
- The biggest news in technology was that America Online was interested in buying Netscape.
- We hadn’t yet learned that Gerry Hunsicker would not trade Scott Elarton and Richard Hidalgo to get Roger Clemens.
Beltran signed a one year, $16M with the Astros.
Why Am I Here?
But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let us have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’
Let’s make one thing absolutely clear: the Carlos Beltran of 2004 is not walking through that door. The Carlos Beltran who played with the Astros for the summer and fall of 2004 put on the finest stretch of defensive center field I could ever hope to see. He put the Astros on his back and damn near willed them to the World Series.
(Oh, you think I’m exaggerating Beltran’s effect on that stacked team? In the NLCS:
- Bagwell – 7 for 27, no home runs
- Biggio – 6 for 32, 1 home run
- Jeff Kent – 6 for 25, 3 home runs
- Beltran – 10 for 24, 4 home runs, 4 steals without being caught… .417/.563/.958
- The Astros scored 31 runs in the series; Beltran scored 12 of them.
- Oh, and they went to seven games despite the fact that Brandon Backe started twice and Pete Munro started twice.)
This is all a roundabout way of saying: yes, Carlos Beltran broke Houston’s heart when he signed with the Mets.
GET OVER IT.
He’s back. It was 12 years ago. The man put on one of the most otherworldly displays of baseball I could ever hope to see at Minute Maid Park unless Mike Trout somehow becomes an Astro in his prime and plays way over his usual standard. Be glad he’s back. If you’re still booing him, that says a whole lot more about you than it does about him.
Oh, what is his role? Beltran is the team’s everyday designated hitter, and Hinch says he will be put into left field 20-30 games during the season.
What Are My Strengths?
That beautiful swing you may remember from both sides of the plate? It’s still there. He may not be 100% of the hitter he used to be, but just to throw the comparison out there:
- Beltran, 2004: .258/.368/.559, 2.3 wins above replacement
- Beltran, 2016: .295/.337/.513, 2.0 wins above replacement
He’s not quite as patient. He’s not quite as strong. But he can still hit the ball. Oh… and let’s throw one more comparison out there:
- Houston designated hitters, 2016: /.219/.299/.378
What Are My Weaknesses?
The defense? Gone. Beltran can barely cover left field… when placed there, he will be a liability.
The speed? Also gone. I mean G-O-N-E gone. Beltran will likely be relieved for a pinch runner in critical late inning spots.
Loves to hit: Beltran has been pretty even from both sides of the plate in his career, but last year he definitely preferred left handed pitching, posting a .338/.380/.589 line against southpaws, versus a .279/.321/.484 performance against right handers.
Hates to hit: No pitch jumps out, but as you might suspect form a hitter getting up there in years and losing a little bat speed, Beltran is weaker against pitches up in the zone than your average hitter.
What is my future with the Astros?
It’s a one year contract. Maybe they revisit it, but it seems more likely that he’s here as a stop gap until some of the younger hitters like Kyle Tucker or Derek Fisher are ready.
What is my projected 2017 performance?
Who else would I remind you of?
As we close out this series, I’m not answering this question for Carlos Beltran. I’ve never seen anyone that does what he did in his prime. I’ll choose to remember him that way.