In defense of Carlos Beltran, an October stud
For Mets fans, the enduring image of Carlos Beltran in October is this:
But judging him on that at-bat alone is far from fair. With his National League Championship Series Game 1 heroics in the books, Beltran has further cemented his legacy not just as a good postseason player, but one of the best of all time.
Consider: Beltran entered NLCS Game 2 with a .750 career slugging percentage in 178 postseason plate appearances, the highest of anyone with even half that many PAs. (Second on the list? Some guy named Babe Ruth, whose lifetime playoff statistics look eerily similar to those of Beltran.)
Coming into the day, Beltran’s October OPS sat at 1.199, fifth on the all-time list by mere hundredths of a point. And while his 16 home runs only rank eighth all-time, they are the most by anyone with fewer than 200 postseason plate appearances.
The common misconception is that Beltran did not enjoy much of that success with the Mets, which is entirely untrue. He hit .278 with three home runs and nine walks in his 10 postseason games as a Met, including .296 with all three of his homers in the 2006 NLCS against the Cardinals. Had Beltran not scored the Mets’ only run in the first inning of Game 7, he would not have batted with the tying run in scoring position in the ninth. Had his two-run homer not provided the only runs off Jeff Weaver in Game 1, the Mets might never have even reached Game 6 of that series, let alone Game 7. (Endy Chavez sends his regards.)
So begrudge Beltran for one called strike three on a fantastic Wainwright curveball if you must. But do not let that color your perception of what he is: one of the most talented clutch performers in postseason history.
Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.