Congratulations Carlos Beltran
With the Houston Astros winning the World Series yesterday, future Hall of Famer, Carlos Beltran finally won his World Series ring. It could not have happened to a better player and a better individual.
While many Mets fans may have been tangentially aware of the 1999 AL Rookie of the Year, everyone knew who he was went he had an incredible 2004 postseason for the Houston Astros. During that postseason run for the Astros, Beltran hit .435/.536/1.022 with a record eight homers in a single postseason.
On that postseason stage, we saw not just a five tool player, but a great player who had that rare ability to raise his game on the bigger stage. Those are the types of players who typically thrive in New York, and Mets fans were thrilled when Omar Minaya made the bold move and made him the Mets first ever $100 million player.
If we’re all honest, things did not go as well for Beltran with the Mets as we all would have hoped. His first season was marred by struggles and his head-first collision with Mike Cameron in right center field at Petco Park that left Beltran with facial fractures and a concussion. That collision was so bad he was the one that got lucky.
Still, during that first season with the Mets, he helped create a culture that led to one of the better runs in Mets history. Early on in the 2005 Spring Training, Beltran took David Wright and Jose Reyes under his wing, and he showed them what it took not just to be Major League players, but great players.
This sparked the incredible 2006 season that ended in heartbreak. Because baseball is a cruel sport, that season and perhaps Beltran’s entire career with the Mets will forever be remembered for Beltran’s strikeout with the bases loaded at the end of Game 7 of the NLCS. However, Beltran’s season was much, much more than that.
Beltran would hit .275/.388/.594 with 38 doubles, a triple, 41 homers, 116 RBI, and 18 stolen bases. By WAR, it was the greatest single season performance ANY Mets position player has ever had. He was predominantly in the Top 5 to 10 in all single season Mets categories setting the marks for runs scored and tying the record for homers and extra base hits. In addition to that, Beltran joined Tommie Agee as the only Mets outfielder to win a Gold Glove. When Beltran would win in the following season, he became the only Mets outfielder to win multiple Gold Gloves.
Essentially, Beltran became the Mets version of Keith Hernandez and Mike Piazza. He was the seminal figure that taught the young players how to play, and he was the player who led the charge by being the superstar.
By the way, for all the talk about the Adam Wainwright moment, Beltran hit .278/.422/.556 with three homers in that postseason. The Mets don’t even get to that Game 7 without him. He should have been revered for that season.
If only he was treated as such. Though not his fault, from that 2006 NLCS on his Mets career became one of what if to hand wringing instead of celebration. The disappointment of the 2006 NLCS carried forward into collapses in 2007 and 2008. Although, he did all he could do to try to stop it.
In 2007, he hit eight homer and 27 RBI in September marking his highs for any month that season. In 2008, he had an impossibly great month hitting .344/.440/.645 with six homers and 19 RBI. This includes a game tying two run home run at the final game at Shea Stadium. To that end, Beltran provided the Mets with the team’s final highlight at the beloved Shea.
From there, Beltran would have some injuries and run-ins with the front office. Rightfully and despite the Mets objections, he had a knee procedure which probably extended his career. Always, the good teammate and doing what was best for the team, he willingly moved from center to right in 2011 before he was traded away for Zack Wheeler.
Since Beltran has left, Mets fans have seemed to have warmed much more to him remembering him more for the great player he was than the strikeout. When he was introduced at the 2013 All Star Game, he received the standing ovation he so rightfully deserved.
That’s what you do for a player that is the greatest center fielder in team history, and is arguably the best outfielder in team history. More than that, that’s what you do for a player who built his Hall of Fame career during his seven year career with the Mets.
All Mets fans should now be congratulating one of the best players in team history for getting that elusive World Series ring which we all know meant so much to him. He didn’t get it with the Mets. Ironically, he got it with that Astros team with whom he built his postseason reputation that inspired Minaya to go out and get him.
This won’t be the final day of celebration for Beltran. One day in the not too distant future, the Hall of Fame will come calling. The hope is he wears a Mets cap, and he returns to Citi Field to watch his number 15 get retired and hang forever next to his fellow Mets greats.