The other day here in the FanDome, a post compared the five year stats of Curtis Granderson, Alex Rios and Shane Victorino. The post did not include Carlos Beltran and Grady Sizemore because of all the injuries those two players have dealt with over the past two years. But that's the point. Even with all the time lost, Beltran and Sizemore have the highest combined value for centerfielders in the past five years. By a lot too. And Beltran is the top dog in value among CFs the past five years. Those years have been spent with the Mets.
And yet, if you listen to the cacophony of New York fans and a lot of writers, Beltran has been a bust for the Mets and a poster boy for opulent spending that has led the Mets down the road to ruin. Not only is that unfair, it's untrue. You can point to a myriad of factors to the unraveling of the New York Mets. But you can only mention Beltran for 2010 as part of that conversation. Even his diminished playing time due to his balky knee in 2009 almost achieved the value of his salary that year.
Part of the problem is that the Mets have failed to reach their objective. They lost two late season division races to the Phillies and the last two years have been out of contention altogether. When you get a superstar like Beltran and he is listed as one of the pieces to get you to the Promised Land, and the team never gets there, the first reaction is to blame the star player. But Beltran was brilliant from 2006 to 2008. He was very, very good in 2005 (his first part year with the Mets). Yes, Beltran has earned his keep.
Consider that Fangraphs evaluation, Beltran has been worth a combined $105.1 million since he joined the Mets. And yes, that includes the last two years when he was only physically able to produce seasons worth $14 million and $3.7 million. Baseball-reference.com rates his value even higher. So what did the Mets pay for that $105.1 million in performance? Roughly $96 million. That's a nine million dollar bargain. Oh, but he has another year on his contract that will pay him $18 million in 2011. Even if Beltran can produce in a full season what he produced in a reduced 2009 (when he only played 81 games and still added $14 million of value), the Mets will still come out ahead. How many long term contracts can you say that about?
This Fan doesn't think that Carlos Beltran has been nearly appreciated as a player as much as he should have been. From a fan's perspective, there were few players on the field more graceful and sweet to watch. He was the class of his position for much of the last decade. He's driven in 1062 runs in just 12 full seasons (the last two abbreviated). He's scored 1106. He's compiled 351 doubles, 67 triples and 280 homers. He has stolen 289 bases and was only caught 39 times (an incredible 88% success rate). He needs 20 homers and 11 more steals to become one of the very few in the 300/300 club. He has almost a .500 career slugging percentage. Add to all that, he's compiled a 1.302 OPS in 22 post season games that include 11 homers and eight stolen bases (without ever being thrown out). He's been the best centerfielder of his generation.
All Carlos Beltran has to do in 2011 is play about 130 games and compile an OPS of around .800 and he will fly by the value yardstick and easily earn the paycheck he's received from the Mets over the years. The Mets have had a lot of bad things happen. The Mets made a lot of mistakes. But Carlos Beltran was definitely NOT one of them. This Fan hopes he has a great comeback season.