The St. Louis Cardinals were the beneficiaries of a resurgent season from Carlos Beltran after the club signed the oft-injured outfielder to a two-year deal to help replace departed superstar Albert Pujols in 2012.
But was that a fluke or will Beltran be able to match his production and have another All-Star campaign for the Red Birds?
Last season Beltran hit 32 home runs and drove in 97 runs while playing in 151 games, the most he had seen in the previous three seasons when he averaged only 95 games per season. The 32 long balls were the most he had hit since the 2007 season when he hit 33 and the 97 RBI were his highest output since the 112 he put up in 2008.
Who would have ever thought Beltran would hit more home runs than Pujols last season?
Many around the game had thought Beltran was past his prime when he averaged 33 home runs and 113 RBI for the New York Mets from 2006-2008, but I thought giving Beltran $26 million over two years was a nice calculated risk.
General manager John Mozeliak was wise to only offer him two years because his recent injury history made anything longer than that look foolish. The $13 million per year may have been a little pricey, but he certainly proved to be worth every penny in 2012 as the Cardinals advanced to the postseason in large part because of his bat.
Provided Beltran can play in another 145 games this season, there is no reason to believe he won’t keep producing despite his age–he turns 36 in April–and could even get a breather if the club brings along top prospect, Oscar Tavares to spell Beltran in the outfield every few days to preserve his legs.
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