Defending Carlos Beltran (cont.)
Well, it sure looks like Beltran holds his own. You want to put him up against Dustin Pedroia? Chipper Jones? Kevin Youkilis? These are the players Steve Phillips mentioned. Beltran's a much better base runner than any of them. I would say he's a better defender than any of them, though you could argue for Pedroia.
Chipper Jones is a better hitter -- he's a GREAT hitter -- but he has not played even 140 games in a season since 2003, which would make it difficult to give him the "Always in the right place" check mark.
Dustin Pedroia has had one good year and he put up a 122 OPS+ in that year.
Kevin Youkilis has had one good year and he's a barely average runner, at best.
My point is not to knock those guys. They're great players. They do some things better than Beltran. And there are other things they don't do as well. If you want to have a fair fight and compare what they do, how they play the game, fine. But saying stuff like this drives me mad:
"I think at times, while he puts up some numbers, his game is inconsistent. There are times where, in pressure situations, he hasn't gotten the job done."
See? Here we go. Even though Beltran puts up "some numbers" his game is "inconsistent."
Some numbers = tangible.
Inconsistent = intangible.
Carlos Beltran is actually quite consistent. He's a great center fielder year after year. That takes consistency. He is the best percentage base stealer in baseball history. That takes consistency. He has, as mentioned, scored 100 runs, driven in 100 runs eight times. That takes consistency. He has only once in the last seven years hit fewer than 25 homers, driven in fewer than 100 runs, put up an OPS+ of less than 126. If anything, Beltran is TOO consistent, and that consistency has left knuckleheads demanding that he be greater than great ... you know, by improving his intangibles.*
*Or is it increasing his intangibles? Monetizing his intangibles? Tangiblizing his intangibles?
One more Phillips gem:
"While he has that great talent, there are times when he doesn't play the game and make plays."
Yep, those players who don't play the game or make plays, those are the worst kinds of players in the world. You want a player who plays the game, makes plays, a player who makes game plays, the plays gamers play to make, a player who makes plays for plays that playmakers make.
And, man, I really hate the "while he has great talent" line ... especially for a 32-year-old player that has been as good as Carlos Beltran. That to me is a slap in the face -- you know, lots of people have great talent. Steve Phillips may have had great talent ... he was drafted in the fifth round by the Mets and he had enough speed to steal 39 bases in Class A ball one year. Like I say, lots of people have talent.
But here are the number of 32-year-old players who had already hit 250 homers and stolen 250 bases: four.*
*Alex Rodriguez, Barry and Bobby Bonds, Carlos Beltran.
And here are the number of players who have scored 100 runs and driven in 100 runs eight times before they turned 32: 15.
Of those, five are eligible for the Hall of Fame, five are in the Hall of Fame.*
*The seven active players to pull the trick: A-Rod, Pujols, Beltran, Vlad Guerrero, Chipper Jones, Manny Ramirez and Ken Griffey Jr. A few Hall of Famers on that list, too.
And, oh yeah, let's remember again: Beltran is off to his best season so far.
Steve Phillips went on some convoluted rant about how Beltran doesn't get a hit every single time up, didn't slide once at home plate and overthrows his cutoff man by a mile. Yes, intangibles. Maybe these are true things ... Beltran has his flaws. But I would like to point out that I have seen Albert Pujols strike out with runners in scoring position, and I saw Torii Hunter make a bad throw to the plate, and I saw Cal Ripken make a base-running blunder and I saw Derek Jeter (no!) throw to the wrong base. The game is one of failure, and if an alien came down on some spaceship and was shown the entire hitting career of Ted Williams, he might say (though his four-nostril nose), "This guy sucked! He made outs half the time he came to the plate."
The alien also would probably be a better announcer than Steve Phillips.
Joe Posnanski is a columnist for the Kansas City Star and the author of joeposnanski.com.
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