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Just The Sports: 2007-06-24

Just The Sports

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Up And Down Beltran

When the Mets signed center fielder Carlos Beltran to a seven-year contract, the front office thought they were getting their center fielder of the future, eliminating their need to worry about that position for the next seven years and allowing the front office to focus on shoring up other problem spots on their roster. Based on Beltran's track record, such a signing was an intelligent one since he had slugged over .500 in each of the five seasons before he and the Mets agreed they were each a perfect fit for the other.

Then the first season of Beltran's tenure began and he got off to a surprisingly sub-par performance, given his previous seasons' efforts. In his first seventy-two games of the 2005 season, he was only hitting .259 BA/.315 OBP/.424 SLG/.248 GPA and finished the season hitting .266 BA/.330 OBP/.414 SLG/.252 SLG, which was little improvement. Beltran's abysmal season, compared to his high hitting standard, brought the overworked criticism that his personality would keep him from achieving success in New York.

When the 2006 season began and Beltran hit .289 BA/.395 OBP/.632 SLG/.336 GPA in his first seventy-two games. His on-base percentage, slugging percentage, gross product average, and isolated power were all statistically significantly superior to his 2005 numbers for the first seventy-two games and effectively eliminated all such location-based criticism. What Beltran's 2006 season also served to do was make his 2005 season look even more flukey than it did while it was going on.

Now, in the midst of this season, Beltran is putting up numbers that look more like the 2005 season when his hitting value was just a little above replacement level than his 2006 career-best season. So far this season, Beltran is only hitting .271 BA/.350 OBP/.450 SLG/.270 GPA, numbers that he is on record as blaming on a nagging left quad injury with the injury supposedly affecting him more when he is batting left-handed. While this may be true in his head, he hasn't hit right-handed any better than he has left-handed; Beltran has hit .276 BA/.346 OBP/.460 SLG/.271 GPA as a left-handed batter and .281 BA/.356 OBP/.427 SLG/.267 GPA as a right-handed batter.

Even if the injury has accounted for some of Beltran's drop-off, it cannot explain why he has forgotten in the span of one off-season how to draw a walk. Beltran drew forty-seven walks in 319 plate appearances in 2006 and thirty-five walks in 320 plate appearances. Beltran needs to be reminded he can get on base by other means than a hit.

In effect, unless Beltran makes a miraculous turnaround and since he says the injury will only be improved by rest the likelihood of that happening is slim to none with slim just having left town, the Mets will have been on the receiving end of two horrible seasons by Carlos Beltran with only four seasons left after this one during which they have a chance to squeeze $119 million worth of production out of Beltran.


Monday, June 25, 2007

Tracking Your Idol

Most children who grow up playing sports latch onto a professional athlete of their favorite sport they respect and admire and whom they choose to emulate. The children play the same position as their idol, choose the same jersey number, even mimic their idol's physical movements on the field, and if all of their dreams come true they end up playing the same position as their idol on the professional level. Such has been the case for Colorado Rockie shortstop Troy Tulowitzki who has made nothing subtle out of his admiration for Derek Jeter that borders on obsession since Tulowitzki went so far as to buy all of his teammates bottles of Jeter's cologne, Driven. Fortunately for Tulowitzki, his idolatrous worship of Jeter has carried itself to the field.

Both Tulowitzki and Jeter made it to the major leagues at the age of twenty-one, but only played a handful of games during their first time with the major league team. Jeter played fifteen games and Tulowitzki played twenty-five games in the majors during their age twenty-one season. Counting last year's games and the games he has played so far this season, Tulowitzki has played ninety-five games as a major leaguer.

In order to gauge how well Tulowitzki has kept up with his idol, Jeter, I took Jeter's first ninety-five games and compared them to Tulowitzki and found that there were really no differences between the two data sets. Jeter hit .267 BA/.338 OBP/.371 SLG/.245 GPA and Tulowitzki has hit .265 BA/.340 OBP/.376 SLG/.247 GPA, as close to identical as you can get without being exactly the same. Since those first ninety-five games, Jeter has become a much better hitter average-wise so Tulowitzki does have his work cut out for him to keep up with his idol's career.

Defensively, Tulowitzki has far and away surpassed anything Jeter did in his first ninety-five games or really anything Jeter has ever accomplished on the field. What this advantage means for Tulowitzki is that he does not necessarily have to top Jeter's batting prowess to have a more positive impact for the Rockies than Jeter did for the Yankees.

As long as Tulowitzki does not get arrested for stalking Jeter, right now it looks as if he will have an equally successful career.