ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- If there was one thing to take out of Sunday’s Cardinals/Nationals finale, and one thing to pay close attention to over these final three regular season games, it’s one man and one man only.
Having him get hot going into the postseason is by far and away the most valuable thing the Redbirds could possibly ask for. The difference between a hot and cold Beltran is the difference between a solid - albeit erratic - lineup and a deep, power packed one.
Think about it. Jon Jay is getting on base regularly at the top. Matt Holliday and Allen Craig are driving in runs on a fairly consistent clip in the middle. Yadier Molina and David Freese provide depth. Adding Beltran into the mix in the second spot provides an element you can’t get with a replacement.
No, not even Matt Carpenter.
Carpenter, while exceptional at getting on base with a .366 OBP, is not a pure power hitter like Beltran. In 307 career at-bats, he has just six home runs. That’s a home run in more than 51 ABs.
Beltran? How about 334 career bombs in 7307 at-bats. Or, a home run every 21.8 ABs. Heck, he’s even doing it at a better rate in 2012 at age 35 (HR every 16.8 ABs).
See the difference? Not only does he hit for power more often but he’s done it for a much longer period of time. That simply can’t be replaced by someone even as impressive as Carpenter has been this year.
2012 has been a crazy roller coaster for Beltran. He started off the season looking like an MVP candidate (.312 avg, .400 on-base percentage, 20 home runs on June 27) but fell off considerably immediately afterwards (.206 avg, .254 on-base percentage, eight home runs in July and August).
It was a struggle. You could see the season wearing on him. He was much slower to balls in right field. He just looked...well...old.
September was much better though. He hit .280 with a .386 OBP last month and finished it off with a monster 3-4 game where he hit two home runs.
Where will this lead? It’s impossible to tell. I asked Beltran in the clubhouse if it’s possible to use one game to jump start him in the future. He just shrugged and said it was one game. He said tomorrow (today) is a new day.
For the Cardinals, it would serve them well if it did continue. Very well.