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Adrian Beltre: 2012 in Review

October 8, 2012 | By RotoRob | comment on this post
Tyler Moore played the hero for the Washington Nationals.
Tyler Moore’s heroics gave the Nats a lead in the NLDS. October magic!

Despite injuries he dealt with in 2011, we ranked Adrian Belte third among third basemen heading into this season.

Well, injuries were not an issue this year and he wound up topping what he had accomplished in his first season as a Ranger – so much so that you can make the argument that only Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera ranked above Beltre among players that qualified at the hot corner. And that list includes Edwin Encarnacion, by the way.

There are a few things that jump out from Beltre’s 2012 season. The most striking item is his work against righties. The right-handed hitter didn’t exactly scuffle against them in 2011 (836 OPS vs. 1076 against southpaws), but this season he dominated righties to the tune of a 984 OPS (compared to a surprisingly low 737 mark against lefties).

To us, that is the reason Beltre was able to put up his best season since that ridiculously impossible to duplicate final season with the Dodgers in 2004. We know that his time at Safeco soured a lot of Fantasy owners, but when you consider what he’s done in the three years since leaving that hitter’s nightmare – 96 homers and 115 doubles – it’s clear that 2004 wasn’t as big a fluke as many thought.

Beltre really turned it on after July, smacking a combined 18 homers (half his total) in August and September while batting at least .333 in each month.

The numbers speak for themselves: his second highest run total to (guess when?) 2004 and an OPS of 920. The only real downside to Beltre these days is that after being a double-digit steal man six times, he’s only swiped four bags total in three years since escaping from Seattle.

Beltre’s walk rate was up this year, and while his extra-base pop wasn’t quite as impressive as last year, when you factor in a 25-point increase in BA and nearly 30 points more in OBP – not to mention the full health – this season wins out easily as his best effort in Arlington.

Okay, so he didn’t show up in the Wild Card game (0-for-4), but neither did Josh Hamilton, and big freaking deal – that’s one game. Still, I suppose you could point to his career OPS of 754 for 91 at-bats in three separate postseason appearances and suggest that Beltre hasn’t delivered in the playoffs, but it’s not as if he’s massively underperformed.

There are still those who believe Beltre is overvalued, but don’t count us among that group.

He’ll be 34 early next season, and it’s reasonable to expect a decline in his home run rate, but even if his “slips” to say 30 homers, 95 RBI and a .300 BA, that still makes him a damn valuable asset at a very thin position.

Quick Hits

  • Yup, that’s pretty much how they drew it up. The Washington Nationals dealt defending champion St. Louis a serious blow Sunday when rookie Tyler Moore of all people came through with a pinch-hit, two-run single in the eighth inning that gave the Nats a lead they wouldn’t relinquish in the opening game of their NLDS. Is it just us or did Moore sort of come out of nowhere to pound 10 homers in 75 games (just 156 at-bats) as a rookie for the Nats? That’s the kind of unexpected performances teams need on their way to something very, very big. Just saying’…
  • Tim McLeod is planning an NPB watch article for the site shortly, but as a mini preview, it’s interesting to note what’s going on with lefty reliever Hideki Okajima. The Yanks signed him to a minor league deal last offseason, but he failed his physical and wound up heading back to Japan to play. To say that he was good for Softbank is an understatement; Okajima tossed 46 scoreless outings before an opponent finally put a dent in him. Now the 36-year-old would like to return to the majors, so it will be interesting to see if he gets that shot and – if so – if he winds up on Tim’s sleeper list as a result.

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