As I write this, the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants are enjoying a well-deserved day off in the midst of their National League Championship Series, to give it its full, “Avenue Of The Americas” title. Hostilities stand at one-all and this entire postseason tournament – taking into account all ten teams involved – has been pretty terrific, providing drama at just about every turn. We’ve seen Chipper Jones say his final goodbye. We’ve seen Texas disappear. We’ve seen Raul Ibanez do a mean Dave Henderson imitation. We’ve seen Bryce Harper and Davey Johnson act their respective ages. We’ve had Miguel Cabrera show us what all the fuss has been about. It’s all been great stuff.
We’ve also seen a great postseason player do what he does best: have a great postseason. Carlos Beltran has burnished his career credentials to a sheen that cannot be ignored. It seems the man can’t avoid doing well in October. It happened in Houston, in New York and now St. Louis. Once the regular season ends, it takes a fire brigade to cool Beltran off. A quick gander at the career numbers will show us it’s not a mirage. In 137 plate appearances – stretching over 30 games, to date – Carlos sports a slash line of .378/.489/.878, good for a gaudy OPS of 1.327. Not to put the cart in front of the horse, or anything, but that’s Hall Of Fame stuff. Even with two wonky knees, he still has gazelle moves on defense and has stolen nine postseason bases without being caught, just for kicks. And not like he was some slouch in the regular year, either. In 619 plate appearances for the Redbirds – his most since 2008 — he knocked 32 homers, chased home 97 runners and slashed at a .269/.346/.495 clip, for an .842 OPS. Let’s face it: even at this advanced age, the man can play.
So why didn’t Met fans like him?
Perhaps his quiet demeanor and “steadiness” didn’t translate to New York. Perhaps since he wasn’t demonstrably upset by each and every loss in his first year here – 2005 – the fans soured on his “attitude.” Perhaps because he played hurt the whole year, never said anything about it and had his performance suffer as a result gave us a false impression of his abilities – a tag he couldn’t ever shake. Perhaps his talents can only be appreciated from afar, though San Francisco and St. Louis rooters the past two seasons have had no trouble holding Beltran to its collective bosom. Perhaps he simply isn’t a guy to hump up and carry a team for long stretches of a regular season: perhaps those stellar postseason numbers don’t look so hot to fans of a team that never gets to a postseason. And of course, there was the infamous Adam Wainwright curveball. We were wrong.
This guy can play on my team any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
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