In some vocal circles of Mets fans, Carlos Beltran is loathed as a selfish player. The hate even inspired the semi-popular but ironic hashtag #BlameBeltran.
In his six-and-a-half seasons with the Mets, Beltran selfishly hit .280/.369/.500 with a 129 OPS+. He also slugged 149 rally-killing home runs, selfishly drove in 559 runs, stole 100 selfish bases, and provided the Mets with 30.9 self-centered fWAR. Those numbers would be much better if he didn’t miss half the season in 2009 and most of 2010 by not sacrificing and playing through a knee injury.
He also hit three selfish home runs in the 2006 NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals. He even had the audacity to hit solo homers, instead of when people were on base. Also he struck out to end the season. The gall.
Never mind that he had a better series than any other batter not named Carlos Delgado, posted 7.9 fWAR during the regular season, and was one of the main reasons the Mets were in the playoffs in the first place.
These accolades easily rank Beltran as one of the top 5 position players in Mets history. But hey, he was a “selfish player” who “didn’t know how to win.”
We heard this same rhetoric a few weeks ago, when the Mets were interested in signing Brian Wilson to bolster a weak bullpen. Some people were against the move because Wilson is a “selfish” player, and the team needed players who cared about “helping the team win” not just putting up personal stats.
Why do these things have to be mutually exclusive?
Does the selfish pursuit of home runs, RBI, a .300 batting average, more wins, more saves, more of any stat not also help the team win games?
Why is it selfish for Brian Wilson to want to save more games, or strike more people out, but when Mariano Rivera wants to do the same things he’s helping the team win?
Why is it selfish for a player to sit out when he is injured, so that they don’t hurt the team with sub-par play, but if you play while injured, providing the team with less production while risking making the injury worse, you’re a team player?
Why is it that only superstars like Carlos Beltran are selfish, while guys who are league average or below for their entire careers, like David Eckstein, are team players?
Is wanting to help the team win not a selfish act? After all, if the team wins, the player gets the glory of playing for a winning team, is more likely to get a large contract, and will have the name recognition that players on losing teams don’t get.
Isn’t being selfish and pursuing better statistics actually an admirable trait for a professional baseball player? Isn’t baseball, more than any other team sport, a collection of individuals doing things that don’t necessarily rely on the help of teammates (at least on offense)?
Isn’t it time for baseball fans to stop regurgitating the same archaic rhetoric that the media spits out and realize that it is time to start opening their minds to different ways of thinking?
Which team wins more games: one made up of 25 “selfish losers” like Carlos Beltran, or one made up of 25 “proven winners” like David Eckstein? I think we all know the answer.
Follow Joe Vasile on Twitter at @JoeVasilePBP.