Carlos Beltran The HOFer
May 20, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; St. Louis Cardinals right fielderCarlos Beltran
(3) during an at bat against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
I don’t really want to talk about the Royals making Sam Deduno look like an ace, so I am leaving that to someone else. For today I would like to talk about how things have been changing for several years in baseball. Gone are the days when RBIs and Wins were the main factors in who won MVP and Cy Young awards. Go look at Felix Hernandez and his 2010 Cy Young award with only 13 wins to see a case study of this phenomenon. Hall Of Fame voting is likely to follow suit. There is evidence of this change already occurring in internet HOFer and Posnanski favorite Bert Blyleven, who got elected after many years of waiting, and a ton of us internet nerds fighting for him and against Jack Morris. I think former Royal Carlos Beltran may be one of the players to benefit from the internet as far as his chances to get into Cooperstown.
As I watched the Cardinals series I pulled up Beltran’s Baseball-Reference page just to reminisce and see how good he really has been. By the time I was done perusing his career, I was convinced that he should be in the Hall of Fame once his career is over. There are five different measures of a player that B-R lists that talk about HOF norms. I will briefly cover each one and how Beltran ranks. Three of them he would either be in or right on the line and the other two he comes up very short.
The three that are good are:
Hall of Fame Monitor – Gives points for hitting key milestones by year and career, like seasons where a player hits .300 or 30 HRs, things like that. Carlos by this metric has 100 points which is exactly the cutoff for a likely HOFer.
Hall of Fame Standards – Similar to the last one, but focused entirely on career totals like a point for ever 200 extra base hits over 300 for example. In this Beltran has 43 points and a likely HOFer has 50.
JAWS – Uses career and peak WAR totals to match up by position. Beltran is ranked as the 9th best center fielder of all time by this system, ahead of current HOFers like Andre Dawson and Kirby Puckett
The two where he lags are the traditional measures:
Black Ink – Gives points for seasons where a player led the league in things like HR, RBIs, and AVG, and then fewer points for leading in lesser regarded stats like games, walks, or runs. Beltran has one black ink point for leading the league with 162 games in 2002, and black ink level for a HOFer averages 27 points, so he is a long way off.
Grey Ink – Is the same as black ink but focuses on finishing in the top ten rather than first. Beltran fares better here at 87 points, but still well below an average HOFer of 144 points.
The two he does poorly in focuses a lot on traditional statistics that are the exact ones slowly being pushed out in favor of stats like WAR. If you look at Beltran from the newer stats perspective he is much better. Sure he didn’t lead the league in
May 28, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals right fielder Carlos Beltran (3) throws a ball to a fan after the fifth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. St. Louis won the game 4-1. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
things like HRs or RBIs, but he was good at those things and a premium defender at a premium defensive position. He has over 8 career WAR from defense, and if you look at non-traditional “Ink” he also lead the league in offensive war in 2006 and finished in the top 10 five times. In this he is similar to another player that the internet cognoscenti has pushed for, Tim Raines. Another reason that these may shift is that there are more teams during all of Beltran’s career than those who played before teams like the Marlins, Rockies, Rays, and D-Backs existed, so it is harder than ever to lead the league in anything.
The last part of the argument for Beltran is that he does have a lot of recognition for being a great player throughout his career. He has a Rookie of the Year, 7 All-Star games, MVP votes in 7 seasons (4th place highest finish), 3 gold gloves, and two silver sluggers. He hits for average and power, has one of the best success rates on stolen bases of all time, plays great defense, and has 130 assists from the OF in his career. That is a five-tool player who has collected 347 HRs and 306 SBs while hitting .283 so far over his career. He should make The Hall in my opinion, and as the old guard leaves and new BBWAA voters start being populated by internet members like Rob Neyer and Buster Olney (they have to get to ten years of membership before they can vote for HOF), this sort of player will have a much better chance of making it in since these voters will value defense, OBP, and the other stats of the new generation.
Only one question remains for me, and that is which team will Beltran go in for. He has played for the Royals, Astros, Mets, Giants, and Cardinals. He spent less than a season with Houston and San Francisco, so they are out. His contract with St. Louis will be over after this year, so unless he is signed again this off-season he will have only spent two years with the Cards. That leaves the Royals who he came up with, and the Mets sho signed him to his first big free agent contract.
Carlos spent at least part of 7 seasons in Kansas City and New York both. He played in 795 games as a Royal and 839 with the Mets. His best seasons came mostly for the Mets though, as they had him from age 28 through part of his 34 year old season. That means he wracked up 24.7 WAR as a Royal and 31.2 as a Met, which is closer than I would have guessed. It is likely that he goes in as a Met, and it is too bad he probably doesn’t remember KC as fondly as KC remembers him. All that being said, it was fun to watch Beltran when he was here, and he will always be one of my favorites.