Once again Carlos Beltran is being discussed in regards to the Mets. This latest activity is due to comments that Beltran gave regarding his time with the team at a recent B.A.T. dinner. Beltran always has been a polarizing player among Mets fans and his most recent remarks have done nothing to bridge the divide between those who thought he was unappreciated and those who felt he was a choker.

I am firmly in the former camp but today I want to talk about Beltran in another manner. This offseason he signed a two-year deal with the Cardinals. If Beltran can stay healthy and produce during the span of that contract, he can strengthen what already is a solid Hall of Fame case. And barring a return to the Royals, Beltran will have spent more time with the Mets than with any other team in his career.

It’s entirely possible that 10 years are so from now that Beltran will go into Cooperstown wearing a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque.

For the benefit of those who feel like Beltran should not enter the Hall without a ticket, let’s look at his Hall of Fame resume. He’s a Rookie of the Year Award winner, a six-time All-Star, a three-time Gold Glove Award winner and his 88 percent lifetime Stolen Base percentage is one of the highest marks in MLB history. He’s been an outstanding postseason performer, with a .366/.485/.817 slash line in 101 PA.

According to Baseball-Reference, Beltran has a lifetime 60.4 WAR following last year’s 4.4 tally. There’s no hard and fast rule for lifetime WAR and the Hall of Fame but anyone who has accumulated 60 WAR certainly deserves a long look. Let’s look at the people already in the Hall who played the majority of their career in center field like Beltran did. The following list is HOF members with at least 50% of their games played in CF, sorted by WAR.

1 Ty Cobb 159.4 1905 1928 3034 13068 11434 2246 4189 724 295 117 1938 1249 562 897 212 .366 .433 .512
2 Willie Mays 154.7 1951 1973 2992 12493 10881 2062 3283 523 140 660 1903 1464 1526 338 103 .302 .384 .557
3 Tris Speaker 133.0 1907 1928 2790 11988 10195 1882 3514 792 222 117 1529 1381 283 436 157 .345 .428 .500
4 Mickey Mantle 120.2 1951 1968 2401 9909 8102 1676 2415 344 72 536 1509 1733 1710 153 38 .298 .421 .557
5 Joe DiMaggio 83.6 1936 1951 1736 7671 6821 1390 2214 389 131 361 1537 790 369 30 9 .325 .398 .579
6 Billy Hamilton 69.6 1888 1901 1594 7608 6283 1697 2164 242 95 40 742 1189 349 914 0 .344 .455 .432
7 Duke Snider 67.5 1947 1964 2143 8237 7161 1259 2116 358 85 407 1333 971 1237 99 50 .295 .380 .540
8 Richie Ashburn 58.0 1948 1962 2189 9736 8365 1322 2574 317 109 29 586 1198 571 234 92 .308 .396 .382
9 Max Carey 50.6 1910 1929 2476 10770 9363 1545 2665 419 159 70 800 1040 695 738 109 .285 .361 .386
10 Larry Doby 47.4 1947 1959 1533 6302 5348 960 1515 243 52 253 970 871 1011 47 36 .283 .386 .490
11 Edd Roush 46.5 1913 1931 1967 8156 7363 1099 2376 339 182 68 981 484 260 268 92 .323 .369 .446
12 Earl Averill 45.0 1929 1941 1669 7215 6353 1224 2019 401 128 238 1164 774 518 70 58 .318 .395 .534
13 Kirby Puckett 44.8 1984 1995 1783 7831 7244 1071 2304 414 57 207 1085 450 965 134 76 .318 .360 .477
14 Earle Combs 44.7 1924 1935 1456 6507 5746 1186 1866 309 154 58 632 670 278 98 71 .325 .397 .462
15 Hack Wilson 39.1 1923 1934 1348 5556 4760 884 1461 266 67 244 1063 674 713 52 5 .307 .395 .545
16 Lloyd Waner 24.3 1927 1945 1993 8326 7772 1201 2459 281 118 27 598 420 173 67 0 .316 .353 .393
17 Ned Hanlon 14.5 1880 1892 1267 5563 5074 930 1317 159 79 30 517 471 357 329 0 .260 .325 .340
18 Harry Wright -0.2 1876 1877 2 7 7 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 .000 .000 .000
19 Jocko Conlan -0.7 1934 1935 128 417 365 55 96 18 4 0 31 33 13 5 5 .263 .328 .334
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/27/2012.

The first 16 players on this list were chosen for their playing career. Hanlon was elected as a manager, Wright made it as a pioneer/executive and Conlan’s enshrined as an umpire. Our 16 CF have the following WAR:

Avg: 74.3
Median: 54.3

The average skews high due to the inclusion of inner circle HOFers Cobb, Mays, Speaker and Mantle. If we eliminate the top four and bottom four out of our 16-player sample, our average is 58.5, which tracks nicely with our median. Beltran is already above both numbers and could finish with over 65 WAR by the time his career ends. That would put him in the range of Snider, who everyone considers a no-brainer HOF selection.

Snider was an outstanding offensive player, even taking his home ballpark into account. His last season in Ebbets Field, Snider had 40 HR and a .955 OPS as a 30 year old. The following year in LA, Snider had 15 HR and an .875 OPS. But we can see by OPS+ how great Snider was offensively, as this stat neutralizes for park and league. Here are the top 10 OPS+ numbers for Snider and Beltran:

Snider: 171, 169, 165, 155, 149, 143, 140, 139, 137, 135
Beltran 152, 150, 144, 132, 132, 129, 125, 122, 114, 109

Essentially, Snider had Beltran’s career, plus three better seasons. But it should be pointed out that Beltran is still active and his career-best 152 mark came last season. If Beltran stays healthy, he will knock the bottom two OPS+ marks off his 10-best list during his time with the Cardinals.

So, how can Beltran be so close to Snider when the Duke laps him with the bat? Because there’s more to baseball than just hitting and Beltran stars in these areas while Snider – let’s just say he was a great hitter.

We already talked about what a phenomenal baserunner Beltran has been in his career. Snider had 99 SB and 50 CS in his career, so this is a big edge for Beltran. Defensively, the Gold Glove Award was instituted during the middle of Snider’s career and he never won one. Even if it had been around his entire career, it’s unlikely he would have been a recipient. Snider has a lifetime -2.1 dWAR. Meanwhile, Beltran checks in with a 7.2 dWAR.

When defense and baserunning are important components of your Hall of Fame case, it’s always a bit more troublesome for the voters than if the great majority of your value comes as a hitter, as is the case with Snider. Beltran’s career also lacks the narrative that Snider’s has. The Duke was one of three great CF in New York during the 1950s, he hit 4 HR in the 1955 World Series and had a 1.210 OPS in the series when the Dodgers finally beat the Yankees. Beltran had the monster 2004 postseason, but that ended in a loss in the NLCS.

But even if he retired today, Beltran would go down as one of the top 10 CF in MLB history.

It seems like during his inspired play last year, that more Mets fans were finally starting to give Beltran his due. There’s a good chance Beltran will reach the postseason again with the Cardinals and performing well again on the national stage will only help his case with the voters. Here’s hoping that voters recognize Beltran’s greatness with election to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot and that Mets fans rejoice when he goes in with a Mets cap on his plaque.

19 comments on “Will Carlos Beltran wear Mets hat when elected to Hall of Fame?

  • Mike Koehler

    If the mets had won it all in 2006, there’s no argument he wears a New York cap.
    But as it stands, there’s still a fair chance he goes in with a Royals hat since he did so much early in his career, before the surgery.

    • pmcm71119@aol.com

      At first I was going to reply saying that there isn’t a chance in hell of Beltran making the Hall. Please keep in mind that although I’m a Yankee fan, I’m also a Beltran fan. On a side note, I thought he’d be a perfect fit for the Yanks this year. I looked at the numbers and Beltran did it all, and did it all better than most. Yes, injuries slowed him down but the bulk of his prime matches up, or even exceeds many who are already in the Hall. If I had a vote, he’d get in. Whose cap he wears? As much as it pains me to say this, it has to be the Mets.

      • Brian Joura

        He would have been a great fit for the Yankees when he first was a free agent, too (when the Mets signed him) but the Yankees decided to go after pitching.

  • The Coop

    …you think he’ll make the HOF?

    • Brian Joura

      It’s two different questions. Do I think he belongs? Yes, without a shadow of a doubt. Do I think he’ll get elected? Who knows? We have to predict a group that thinks Jim Rice is a Hall of Famer and Jeff Bagwell isn’t. Forgive me if I don’t want to predict what THAT group will do!

      From the standards of who has already been elected to the HOF, Carlos Beltran belongs. He has no PED accusations against him and to the best of my knowledge has never been considered a clubhouse cancer. He’s got the magical 2004 playoffs although I would like it if he added to his postseason legacy sometime the next two seasons with the Cardinals.

      • The Coop

        Well then it certainly is two different questions. If Beltran were to retire right now, he’d be the “hall of very good,” given his injury history. Remember, Moises Alou will never make the HOF b/c of his history. But if Beltran starts knocking the hell out of the ball in StL, and they make the postseason and he ends up doing more of the same, who’s to say that a) he wouldn’t make the HOF and b) that he wouldn’t go in wearing a StL hat? Right? Unless his knee goes south (which it still can), I feel like it’s way too early to decide if Beltran is a Met legend. He did well here, unfortunately for those of us fans who love him (I’m one of them), we know his limitations. Given the history of this team, they’ll never retire his number. They’ve never retired Tug McGraw’s or Mike Piazza’s (yet…) so why would they do it to someone who’s expectations fell far short when he was with the team?

        • Brian Joura

          I think you’re stretching to compare Moises Alou to Beltran. While they were comparable hitting, Beltran was faster, more durable, and most importantly – Beltran played a much tougher defensive position. The fact that he was a CF for the vast majority of his career is a significant part of Beltran’s value. Only 18 CF in MLB history have hit 40 HR. Beltran’s numbers are just a lot more valuable coming from his defensive position.

          Ultimately the Hall of Fame chooses which hat to feature on a player’s HOF plaque. And they’re not going to pick a team he played just a few years for. If the voters pick Beltran, he’ll go in either as a Met or a Royal.

          As for the Mets retiring his number – I have to honestly say – so what? As an organization, the Mets seem to be hesitant to bestow this honor on anyone. That’s certainly their right. While they have the right to decide which players and numbers to honor, I have the right to not care what they do in this regard. In 50 years, they’ve chosen to retire just one number for contributions made by a player. In the same time, the writers have inducted 76 players to the HOF and the VC and the Negro League committee have added quite a few more, too.

  • Brandon Lee

    Very interesting topic. I think Beltran is a Hall of Fame caliber player, but we’ll see what the voters think. He’s put all those great offensive numbers while being one of the best fielders in the game. During his prime years from 2003 to 2008 he was the best center fielder in baseball.
    If he does get voted in it’ll either be the Mets or the Royals, but I feel like his best years were as a Met.

  • rob sahm

    i like beltran alot but if he gets in the hall so should dave kingman ?

    • Brian Joura

      No, those two things don’t have anything remotely to do with one another.

  • cpins

    Interesting topic. If Beltran gets in, I’d guess the similarity of his Mets/Royals stats mean he’d go in w/his team of origin: KC.

    Royals 3134 AB/ 123 HR/ 287/352/483
    Mets 3133 AB/149 HR/ 280/370/500
    * OBP is imprecise – didn’t find HBP’s to include – that’s why I didn’t show OPS.

    It’ll be interesting to see if he makes it. Trying to read voters tea leaves and looking at the current list – it’s a fascinating question.

    Silly as it is the HoF voters love their milestones. 12 of the 16 current CF HoFers hit .300. Beltran is at .283 and obviously won’t be able to reach that magic-marker. Of the non-.300 CF HoFers, Mantle hit 298 but hit 536 HRs, Snider hit .295 w/407 HRs. Only Max Carey (.285/70) & Larry Doby (.283/253) failed to either hit .300 or 400 HRs. Doby of course played in the Negro Leagues before reaching the majors.

    Unless the voters lose their milestone fetish, Beltran’s best hope lies in his long ball totals. He currently has 302 dingers to go w/his 283 batting average. That’s good for fifth on the list and 49 more than the current fifth placer Larry Doby. A couple more strong seasons with another 30 home runs ought to build a strong enough case to meet the arbitrary milestone bias of voters.

    • Brian Joura

      You were pretty close. You can get exact numbers broken down by team at Baseball Reference. With the Royals he had a .352 OBP and an .835 OPS and with the Mets he had a .369 OBP and an .869 OPS.

      I’m not worried about the Batting Average fetish. AVG has already lost a lot of its luster and I don’t see it getting it back 7+ years from now.

  • Dave Dillon

    I think Carlos goes down as a guy who did everything extremely well, but didnt have one standout tool. For homers, the magic # is 500. For hits it’s 3,000. I never considered him to be feared above all other players. Griffey is the standout CF’r of this era, even with his wasted years in Cinncinati. Maybe the perception would be different if the team didnt collapse for 2-3 years. It wasnt CB’s fault, but on the other hand, he didnt excel to the point that the team won by 10 games and breezed through the playoffs. Just for comparison’s sake – for a ten year period, Andrew Jones might have been considered more dominant. At one point he looked like a lock for 500(+). He might have been stronger defensively and could steal at will. No doubt he suddenly ballooned up and seemed to totally lose it all at once.

    • Brian Joura

      Jones and Beltran are direct contemporaries while Griffey accumulated most of his value by the time Beltran made the majors. After 2000, Griffey’s single year high in bWAR is 2.0 while he accumulated negative value five times.

      Griffey’s peak is much higher but if you look at seasons where they each accumulated 4.0 WAR or greater, Griffey had 10 while Beltran had 8, including five of the last six years.

      I don’t think anyone doubts that Griffey is a slam-dunk HOFer. I think Beltran is closer to Griffey than he is to Hack Wilson.

  • Ed Leyro

    Anyone who knows me can attest to how much of a Carlos Beltran I am. I was a fan of his before he became a Met and I will continue to be a fan of his now that he is in St. Louis. I expect to attend his first game back in New York and will give him a standing ovation when he comes to the plate. That being said, he’s not a Hall of Famer just yet. And I have two words to back up my statement. Steve Finley.

    I don’t think anyone would say that Steve Finley will be going to the Hall of Fame when he becomes eligible next season. He was a very good centerfielder for a long time, but no one ever would ever confuse him for a Hall of Famer.

    Here are Beltran’s stats compared to Finley’s over the years:

    Beltran: 14 years, 1,917 hits, 390 doubles, 73 triples, 302 HR, 1,146 RBI, 1,184 runs scored, 293 SB, 831 BB, six-time All-Star, three Gold Gloves, two postseason appearances, no pennants, no World Series titles.

    Finley: 19 years, 2,548 hits, 449 doubles, 124 triples, 304 HR, 1,167 RBI, 1,443 runs scored, 320 SB, 844 BB, two-time All-Star, five Gold Gloves, seven postseason appearances, two pennants, one World Series title.

    They look pretty similar, don’t you think? As of right now, Finley leads Beltran in most categories. Beltran will more than likely surpass Finley in HR, RBI and walks this year. He also might pass Finley in doubles in 2013. But he might never pass him in base hits, triples and runs scored. After stealing only four bases last year, it might take a few years for him to pass Finley in stolen bases, if he ever does at all. It will also take him a minimum of three years to pass Finley in runs scored.

    Now granted, Beltran’s 60.8 WAR (53.6 oWAR, 7.2 dWAR) is better than Finley’s 40.5 WAR (42.5 oWAR, -2.0 dWAR), but Finley’s dWAR numbers took a dive in his final three years in the major leagues, as should be expected from a player once he turns 40. His dWAR over his final three years was -2.6, meaning he was above zero through age 39.

    Finley is on no one’s Hall of Fame list. For Beltran to be on that list, he has to surpass Finley in many things and possibly by a wide margin. I just don’t see that happening.

    • Brian Joura

      You know all the numbers. So then I think the question you have to ask is: Why does Beltran run circles around Finley in WAR? Because he’s got four seasons better than Finley’s best. That’s pretty significant. Also, Finley has 12 seasons where he was below average in WAR. The last four years of his career, he was not adding any significant value to his HOF case – the only thing he was doing was (potentially) taking time away from a better player and accumulating counting stats. Counting stats are great if you get to 3,000 hits but 2,548 hits are not going to do anything for Finley. He’ll be a one-and-done HOF candidate.

      If we compare Finley when he was a productive player (1989-2003), he had a .276/.337/.447 line for a 108 OPS+. He also had 249 HR and 977 RBIs. Now let’s compare that to Beltran, who has a .283/.361/.496 for a 121 OPS+. In 1001 fewer PA, Beltran has 302 HR and 1,146 RBIs.

      Now, Beltran could fall off a cliff and fail to be productive during the next two years. I doubt it, but it’s certainly a possibility. But even if all he does in St. Louis is add two crappy years of production, he’ll be that much further ahead of Finley. In 2004-05, Finley added 48 HR and 148 RBIs to his total.

      Beltran laps Finley when they were productive players. Any similarity between them now, or edge for Finley in counting stats, is merely due to the 2,730 extra PA that Finley has.

      More than half of his career, Finley was average or worse. The only years where Beltran was average or worse were the years when he was hurt in 2000 and again in 2010. Beltran’s first year with the Mets, when we all thought he was lousy, Finley was worse than that 12 times.

      Right now it’s a simple matter of quality versus quantity. I think it’s unrealistic to expect that Hall of Fame voters won’t be able to see the edge in quality that Beltran enjoys over Finley

  • Ed Leyro

    Well, if Beltran has a career that mirrors Paul Molitor’s after turning 35, then he will be a Hall of Famer. Your piece did inspire me to write a post for Studious Metsimus on the topic. (I linked out to mets360 and this article; gotta give you credit where it’s due.) If you or any of your readers would like to read it, here’s the link.


    • Brian Joura

      You’re changing the goal posts here. The Finley comparison made sense because they were both CFers. Molitor was a DH who added nothing defensively to his HOF case after 1983 when he was 26. What Molitor had to produce offensively as a DH is a whole lot more than what Beltran has to do as a Gold Glove CF who was an excellent baserunner.

  • FromThisSeat.com

    In order for Beltran to be remembered as a Cardinal, he will have to accomplish more individual feats as well as stay longer. At his age, I just don’t see that happening. I say he retires a Met although we are talking 12-15 years from now.

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