St. Louis, Mo – St. Louisans have been coming up with creative ways to defame their Pujols jerseys since the start of the season. Some Cardinals fans have placed a dollar sign with a “2” and a “0” on either side of the once would-be classic “5” to create a nice “Pujols $250” jersey while others are simply using duct tape to place another Cardinal’s player name and number over the top of the new L.A. Angel’s domain. One name is certain to be making an increased number of appearances on these modified jerseys as the season rolls on; Carlos Beltran.
The soon to be 35 year old outfielder is off to one of the best power seasons of his career. The lineup shuffle has placed Beltran in either Matt Holliday’s old role as the team’s fourth place hitter, Beltran’s second best power position in the lineup in his career, or batting second.
In 285 career games while batting fourth, Beltran is hitting .294 with 48 homeruns, 72 doubles, and 11 triples, while slugging .515 percent. His best slugging percentage for a position in the lineup in which he’s played over 40 games is .554 percent when batting second with 53 homeruns, 55 doubles, and 13 triples in 238 games. In 957 games as a third place hitter, the new Cardinals right fielder hit just .279, but drilled 173 homeruns, 217 doubles, 37 triples, and slugged .498 percent.
Beltran recorded his fifth homerun of the season yesterday after he hit one deep off of the arm of Reds starter, Mat Latos, in the second inning. This is Beltran’s second quickest season to five homeruns in his career. In 2004, the same year that he and the Met’s lost to the Cardinals in the NLCS, it only took this powerful switch hitter ten games to reach that five homerun mark; it’s taken him just eleven games this year. For the record, the longest it took Beltran to reach five deep ones was 72 games in 2000, just a season removed from his Rookie of the Year season, with the Kansas City Royals.
The seven time All-Star looks to be making a trip to Kansas City this year to appear in his second straight Midsummer Classic. Compared to his last season, Beltran’s already reached 15.4% of his overall runs scored (12 runs in 2012 / 78 runs in 2011), 22.7% of his overall homeruns (5/22), 8.3% of his overall RBIs (7/84), has already drawn 11.5% of his overall walks (8/71), and is hitting .41 points higher than his end-of-the-year batting average (.341/.300) in just 7.7% of his overall games played last season (11/142).
Just for fun, let us cover up that old number 5 of Pujols with Beltran’s number 3 and compare the two’s production thus far this season.
Beltran has three more RBIs, five more homeruns (Pujols is still searching for his first), has a batting average that is .76 pints higher than “El Hombre’s,” has drawn seven more walks, and has scored eight more times than the former king of St. Louis in one less game.
Ponder upon this for a brief moment, the Cardinals are Major League Baseball’s most potent offense scoring 70 runs in 12 games. Carlos Beltran has recorded 7 RBIs this season which is 10% of the team’s overall runs. He has also crossed the plate a total of 12 times himself which accounts for 17.1% of those runs with 41.7% of those coming off of homers. Now take into consideration that every one of those 7 RBIs credited to Beltran’s name has come via the long ball.
Now there’s no reason to expect Beltran, who turns 35 years old next Tuesday, to continue producing at this extreme of a high level for the remainder of the season. Recall Lance Berkman’s incredible first half of the season a short year ago when the Puma exploded for 24 homeruns and 63 RBIs; he was nothing short of dominant. Now venture back unto the second half of the year and evoke the memory of how his final 63 games went. While his average (.315 compared to .290) and on-base percentage (.423 compared to .404) both rose, he only hit 7 homeruns and 31 RBIs. Break down those numbers a little bit further and one will discover that in the final two months of the season, Berkman only hit 3 homeruns and 22 RBIs with just 1 of those homers coming in the final 25 games.
With all of that being said, Berkman played a huge part in the Cardinal’s first half success last season and Beltran appears poised to do the same.
Beltran and the Cardinals take their 9-3 record and hoist it up against the Cincinnati Reds today at 12:45pm CST on Fox Sports Midwest and 1120 KMOX.