PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 11: National League All-Star Carlos Beltran #15 of the New York Mets looks on during the 2011 State Farm Home Run Derby at Chase Field on July 11, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
One year ago today, Carlos Beltran returned to the field after a season-long injury absence. The Mets were 48-40 at the time, and postseason dreams were abound. From that point until the end of the season, the Mets went 31-43, including losses in the first seven games in which Beltran played. And the "Blame Beltran" movement was spawned. Even before his return, Beltran was not welcomed as a liberator. Rather, he was decried by many as a cancer, a toxic asset:
The Mets lost ballgames simply because soul-crushing Beltran stepped foot in the clubhouse. Gotcha. Nevermind that the 2010 Mets gave 1633 plate appearances to position players with a sub-.300 OBP. Compare to the 354 sub-.300 plate appearances so far this season, which works out to a ~630 full season pace. Nevermind that the 2010 Mets finished with about the same record as was expected, so the second half slide was more likely a true talent level correction. The Beltran did it!
Fast forward to today. The Mets haven’t been a catastrophe and many are saying that the team has exceeded expectations (even if they really haven’t). Beltran is enjoying an All Star caliber season. And he is being praised for his leadership in the clubhouse. What a turnaround from the second half of 2010.
It will be strange when he’s gone. Seven seasons with one team is a long time in this era. It’s a different feel than Mike Piazza’s final season -- Beltran is still one of the top players in the league; fans seem to have better feelings towards Piazza -- but arguably the best position player in team history is possibly on the verge of departing. And all things considered, that's okay. I am at peace with my Beltran. Sandy Alderson, do what you will.