More Beltre

Dave · August 31, 2004 at 9:02 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Tim Marchman has a good column on Adrian Beltre’s breakout season and whether it portends greatness in his future. It’s a quality read, but in case you hate clicking links, here’s the basic summary:

Of the 10 postwar players who had the most comparable offensive seasons to the one Beltre is having, six are of Hall of Fame caliber and the rest all had good careers after their age-25 season save Jim Ray Hart, a fine player who injured his shoulder in 1969 and was never the same again. The only one who stands out as a fluke, and the comparison that should most worry anyone thinking about signing a fat check made out to Beltre, is Larry Parrish

An 80 percent success rate? I’ll take two, thanks.


33 Responses to “More Beltre”

  1. U.S.S. Mariner » Adrian Beltre on November 4th, 2004 2:08 pm
    […] ote him up, but realized that I have not. We have two pretty good threads on him here and here, if you’re looking for more talk about Beltre. On to the mini-mini-article. How much has Adr […]

  2. bob mong on August 31st, 2004 9:59 am

    I dunno. This paragraph worries me a little:

    “Parrish — who briefly managed the Detroit Tigers in 1998 and 1999 — came up to the majors in 1974 as a 20-year-old third baseman for the Montreal Expos. He had the worst pre-age-25 career of the names on the above chart; his OPS rate relative to his league’s was .98. (Beltre’s, before this year, was .96.) ”

    So…that would make Beltre, of his list, the worst player prior to his age-25 “breakout” season. That’s gotta throw up some red flags.

    In a different context (the HOF) Bill James warns against “I can make a group” arguments and writes that they should be evaluated carefully. How? By asking, is the player in question REALLY similar to the other players in the group? Is he the worst player in the group, or is he right in the middle?
    Beltre’s OPS+s from ages 20-25 are 100, 116, 93, 98, 89, 175 (projected for age-25).
    Is Beltre really similar to Dick Allen? Dick Allen’s OPS+s from age 22-25 go 162, 145, 181, 174. I would say that they are not.
    Is Beltre really similar to Mike Schmidt? Schmidt’s OPS+s from age 23-25 are 91, 158, 142. Not really similar.
    Jim Thome, 23-25? 125, 158, 166. Not similar.
    Bill Madlock, 23-25? 124, 141, 150. Not similar.
    Jim Ray Hart, 22-25? 132, 131, 131, 152. Not similar.
    Ron Santo, 21-25? 121, 74, 129, 164, 146. Not similar.
    Eddie Mathews, 20-25? 113, 171, 172, 172, 143, 154. Not remotely similar.
    Sal Bando, 24-25? 107, 152. Ok, some similarity here.
    Larry Parrish, 21-25? 97, 81, 90, 116, 146. There’s some real similarity here.
    Wade Boggs, 24-25? 128, 150. Not similar.

    Of his group, everyone except Jim Thome, Sal Bando, Larry Parrish, and Wade Boggs had been an All-Star before their age-25 seasons. And Wade Boggs first full season was at age 25 and Thome’s was at age 24.

    So, of this group, only Larry Parrish and maybe Sal Bando are really similar to Beltre. And a group of Larry Parrish, Sal Bando, and Adrian Beltre isn’t much of a group, either in terms of sample size or in terms of spectacular performance. A much, much better group would be all players, regardless of position, who had accumulated around 3000 PA of league-average production through their age-24 seasons and then had a breakout at age 25. Then we should see where that leads us.

    And regarding his defense…Marchman writes, “Beltre, though, would probably make a decent shortstop.”

    That’s crap. If he would make a decent shortstop, he would have been playing there already. It isn’t like he was blocked from playing SS by ARod or something. LA shortstops since his first full season:
    1999 Mark Grudzielanek (.812 OPS)
    2000 Alex Cora (.659)
    2001 Alex Cora (.591)
    2002 Cesar Izturis (.556)
    2003 Cesar Izturis (.597)

    Lots of people think Scott Rolen is a better 3B than Beltre, but I have never heard anyone argue that Rolen would make a decent shortstop.

    I know it’s just hyperbole, but still, that’s ridiculous.

  3. Troy Sowden on August 31st, 2004 10:00 am

    Thank you for posting the article, Dave. I’ll repeat my earlier claim – Adrian Beltre is the most valuable FA since A-Rod (and won’t command A-Rod money). Not signing him would be a huge mistake. He can, and should, be had.

    Bring us Beltre.

  4. Dave on August 31st, 2004 10:10 am


    While I agree that that the tone of the article was probably a bit too over the top and doesn’t qualify Beltre’s risk perfectly, he’s got some pretty solid extenuating circumstances. The botched appendectomy in 2001 that nearly cost him his life robbed him of his health and pretty obviously affected his on field play. Beltre hit .290/.360/.475 as a 21-year-old in 2000, right in line with the projections his minor league numbers foretold. Then, 2001 brings surgery, and Beltre falls to .265/.310/.411, a level he sat at for three years.

    Do we know just how badly the appendectomy hurt him? No. But it’s a pretty strong justification for the unexpected lack of development.

  5. Digger on August 31st, 2004 10:40 am

    Ah….What? Ignore PECOTA? Three straight years with a .310 OBP and then a breakout with free-agency coming? Hmmm.

    When mortgaging the future with big, long term free agent contracts, why take any chances in a year when there are great low risk guys out there. Gotta get Beltran!

  6. Troy Sowden on August 31st, 2004 10:58 am

    PECOTA is not fool proof. It is a great tool to use when dealing with most players, but as with any tool, it cannot account for anything. I’m with Dave, Beltre’s appendectomy is an unusual case, and means we have to look at Beltre’s data through a different filter than we do with most players. I’m quite confident we can expect him to put up 04 type numbers for the next 5 or 6 years, barring major injury of course.

  7. Troy Sowden on August 31st, 2004 10:58 am

    I meant, it cannot account for everything. Sorry for the asanine looking post.

  8. Dave on August 31st, 2004 11:01 am

    For what its worth, I’ll guarantee that once the ’04 numbers are factored in, PECOTA is going to love Beltre. PECOTA is a sucker for tools fiends with power at a young age, as Nate’s research has shown that players with that skillset experience the best development paths.

  9. Eric on August 31st, 2004 11:10 am

    If you factor in the appendix thing in ’01 then this line doesn’t look that bad:

    Beltre’s OPS+s from ages 20-25 are 100, 116, 93, 98, 89, 175

    He is right at league avg at age 20, improves at 21 then nearly dies and struggles for 3 years, now he is back and putting up the monster numbers scouts alwasy projected for him, it is almost like he just picked up where hsi natural progression would have been.

    I say Beltre is the #1 target, sign him for 6 or 7 years and you have a GG 3Bman and #3 hitter through his age 31 or 32 season. The Ms weakest position historically becomes one of their best.

  10. Ralph Malph on August 31st, 2004 11:37 am

    Off topic, does anyone know why Ugueto was placed on the restricted list? Do I have that right?

  11. bob mong on August 31st, 2004 11:39 am

    I don’t know. Beltre’s big year is largely batting-average driven, if he goes back to hitting .250-.280 then he is only going to have a .330ish OBP. Which you have to hit a lot of homeruns to overcome.

    I just don’t trust the batting-average spike.

  12. Jim Thomsen on August 31st, 2004 11:47 am

    I agree that Beltre is probably a reasonable gamble for big money, but I’ve seen little discussion of the issue from Beltre’s likely perspective. To wit: What would be his motivation for choosing Seattle over, say, a dozen other suitors. Seattle has a history of being an isolated outpost from which big-name, big-money stars and free agents want to flee, not flock. If I were Boras and Beltre looking over the roster of suitors in the offseason, I’d look at the Mariners and think: “Hmmmm … team that fell flat on its face with seemingly good players. Holes at shortstop, maybe at second, maybe one outfield position. Unsettled rotation and bullpen. Management with its head up its epididymal tract. Comparatively weak media market. Bankrupted farm system. Question marks about most of the kids. How much can we really help this team in 2005? And how much can my signing help this team help itself? Will I just be another A-Rod in another Texas where my presence and paycheck are actual detriments to winning?”

    If I were them, I’d say pass.

    Here’s a little exercise for your folks: How would you pitch Beltre and Boras on Seattle?

  13. Dave on August 31st, 2004 11:51 am

    The team that offers the most money almost always gets the player. Period. Tejada preferred Seattle to Baltimore, but let his agent negtoiate the best contract possible, then signed what he was given. Free agents are essentially just auction pieces now. Very rarely will you see a top shelf free agent take anything besides the highest offer, regardless of what condition the franchise is in.

  14. Brian Harper on August 31st, 2004 11:57 am

    Jim, you don’t have to pitch Boras on Seattle, all you need is $$$. If it makes Scott more money, he’ll sell his client on it. He’ll convince him to take the biggest offer, and that if he’s not happy after a year or two, they can force a trade to the Yankees or some other team.

    The other approach, which worked well for Baltimore last year, is to go after another big-name free-agent at the same time. That’ll help convince them that the team is for real, despite plenty of evidence to the contrary. So go after both Betre and Beltran, and maybe you convince both of them that they won’t be an isolated star on a poor team. Sign them both, and that may just be true.

  15. Kevin on August 31st, 2004 12:03 pm

    Dave’s right. Look at Pudge in Detroit. I think it’s sad and misguided. After you have $10 mill in the bank, is an extra $mill or two really going to impact your lifestyle? Ten years ago, I took a job offer in Seattle that was half the $ of a similar offer in NY, and it was the best investment I ever made. YMMV.

  16. Digger on August 31st, 2004 12:04 pm

    Is there a rule against using the (7 letter) s-word on this site? I’m all for ignoring it in the context of enjoying the game, but not when you’re commotting 15% of your payroll for the next 5+ years.

  17. Jim Thomsen on August 31st, 2004 12:19 pm

    If that’s true, then I’m aboard. Break the bank for Beltre and Beltran. How about a 3-4-5-6 murderers row of Beltran, Beltre, Boone and Bucky?

  18. G-Man on August 31st, 2004 12:32 pm

    I agree, Boras is only intersted in getting the largest contract that he can. That’s what counts with him; the bigger the contract, the bigger the ego stroke for him.

    I’m not sold on Beltre yet. If he’d go for a 3 or 4 year deal, you could sell me, but that’s just about impossible. I really don’t like to project this one great year over 6 or 7 more seasons. This team isn’t that close to returning to the playoffs.

    The only mitigating circumstance is that there aren’t any obvious big-money suitors for him, so Seattle might be able to get him for merely an outragious amount rather than a totally obscene figure.

  19. Paul Weaver on August 31st, 2004 12:48 pm

    In the wake of not signing Beltre or Beltran, the Ulitmately wise upper management does some shuffling, and we have the new ’05 seattle mariners:

    C: Pat Borders (low cost, fan favorite)
    1b: Julio Franco (a success story, proven veteran)
    2b: Roberto Alomar (future hall of famer)
    ss: Barry Larkin (a legend, brings immediate respect)
    3b: Robin Ventura (a key component to the dodgers’ 04 success)
    dh: Fred McGriff (His pursuit of 500 homeruns will bring the fans out)
    rf: Ruben Sierra (He’s returned to his late 90s form!)
    cf: Ken Griffey Jr. (Bring back the Kid)
    lf: Rickey Henderson (Patience at the plate, with above-Edgar speed)

    Ron Vilone and Jaimie Moyer struggle for the top spot in the rotation.
    Jeff Fassero, Mike Hampton, and Kevin Appier fill out the rest of the rotation.
    John Olerud is the set up man, and John Franco is the proven closer.

    The success story of the middle 2000s’. Management congratulates themselves with a raise – funded by higher ticket prices.

  20. Troy Sowden on August 31st, 2004 12:55 pm

    There’s no dozen or so other suitors either. Most big market teams don’t have a hole at 3rd. Consider:

    The Yankees would have to move Arod or Jeter to 2nd. I just can’t see it. The Cards, Orioles, A’s, Marlins (Lowell is expected to exercise his option, and if not they should just move Cabrera back to 3rd), Mets, Angels (Dallas McPherson), Braves (Andy Marte), and Rangers are set for years to come.

    The Red Sox are said to be cutting payroll, and have plenty of their own FAs to worry about. Likewise the White Sox. The Cubs could be on the market, pending whatever they do with Aramis Ramirez.

    Houston doesn’t seem poised to go spend alot of money, but that’s just my assumption. I suppose Colorado, Cleveland, Tampa Bay, Cincinatti, Detroit, or San Diego COULD make a run at him, but none of them seem real likely to spend that kind of money. Detroit did it last year with Pudge, so it’s possible.

    That leaves Philadelphia, San Francisco, Arizona, LA, and us. Of all the other teams in MLB, maybe one or two throw their hats in the ring – the Cubs seem somewhat likely, so we’ll count them. Add one wild card small market team – the D Rays? – and that makes a maximum of seven teams in the bidding.

    Honestly, I bet most of them don’t even make a run, leaving us, LA, and Philadelphia. LA won’t go over 3 years, so unless Beltre loves the Dodgers, don’t count on it.

    Prediction – the M’s will be in a bidding war with the Phillies for Beltre. And we’ll win.

  21. Chris Begley on August 31st, 2004 1:34 pm

    There is also the chance (or my wishful thinking) that Lincoln will be sick of the criticism of the last few years and instruct Bavasi to make a splash and sign either of the two B’s, so as to be able to say – look we can spend money too!

  22. Jon on August 31st, 2004 2:37 pm

    Even if your wishful thinking is right, Chris, and I’m right there with ya’ bud, I suspect that any signing of Beltran or Beltre would then be followed by word from on high that the M’s will have to cut payroll elsewhere. One step forward, two steps back. Of course, any free agent will want to know that the M’s are serious about contending and so will seek assurances that others will be added, too. Which is yet another reason why Beltre and Beltran won’t sign in the first place.

  23. Ralph Malph on August 31st, 2004 2:49 pm

    “Beltre’s big year is largely batting-average driven”

    Huh? He has 42 HR’s. His Isolated Power number is .317, after never being higher than .184. True, his batting average is up a TON, but I would say his big year is largely HR driven.

  24. Ralph Malph on August 31st, 2004 2:51 pm

    What is the 7-letter s word? sonuvabitch has 11 letters. I’m stumped.

  25. bob mong on August 31st, 2004 3:08 pm

    Largely batting-average driven, not completely. Basically, he has made two huge improvements this year over any other year of his career: he is hitting 80 points higher than his career batting average (50 points higher than his previous high) and has doubled his previous high in HR. Everything else: walks, doubles, triples, stolen bases, strikeouts, Pitches per PA, GIDP, G/F ratio, everything else is the same. The difference is more singles and more homeruns.

    I expect the increased power to last, the batting-average spike not to last. Well, to be clear, I don’t expect him to hit .340 ever again; I would guess that he’ll settle in around .300 or so.

    If he was hitting .260 (his career average prior to this year), with the same number of homeruns, he would have a line something like this: .260/.310/.580 – which would be nice, sure as shootin’, but wouldn’t be getting him any MVP talk.

  26. Ralph Malph on August 31st, 2004 4:52 pm

    Not to nitpick, but Beltre’s lifetime BA coming into this year was .262. Of the 80 point increase this season, 28 points comes from additional singles and 52 points comes from additional HR’s.

    So his uptick is largely power driven, but not completely.

    When I look at his career path, I see huge potential at ages 20 and 21, a big 3-year dip, and then a return to the career path suggested by those age 20/21 years. The only explanation I can think of for that is the appendicitis he had at age 22.

  27. Jeremy on August 31st, 2004 5:12 pm

    I’d consider it a BAD MOVE to bring Beltre to Seattle, unless they get a bargain somehow. Beltre’s not the first guy to have a huge season pretty much out of nowhere (besides his minor league numbers). It reminds me of the Twins and Mets, overpaying for a guy with essentially one good season. Would you want him if this year was identical to last year? He’d be marginally better than Justin Leone, and that’s what you should expect if signing him, even if he’s likely to be better than that.

    Go get Troy Glaus, he’s better in every way except injury risk, and will probably be half the price.

  28. G-Man on August 31st, 2004 6:22 pm

    …any free agent will want to know that the M’s are serious about contending

    Like Pudge and Tejada? Especially not Boras clients. Contending isn’t relevant. The biggest contract is.

  29. big chef terry on August 31st, 2004 6:46 pm

    Until this team acquires a high end ss and cf, acquistions like Adrian Beltre are like lighting a match to money…utterly worthless…

    This current team can’t make two thirds the plays the Ms have in each of the last fifteen years.

    Until that is fixed and the destruction of the pitching staff is stopped, signing corner infielders, corner outfielders and dh’s is so, so silly…

  30. Jerry on August 31st, 2004 9:58 pm

    Why is everyone so down on Beltre? And why does everyone think that the team won’t sign guys? The M’s have over $30 million to spend. They can get Beltre AND Carlos Beltran, and still have money left for a solid pitcher.

    It is hard to predict what the market for Beltre and Beltran will be like, but I think that it is a safe bet that both will sign for between 9-13 million/year. The main sticking point will be years. With Boras, he tends to like deals that have options and incentive years at the end, so the value is more than it appears (eg. the media says ‘8 years and up to $100 million’, but the last two years are options or are incentive-laden). Boras has stated that he will be looking for 6 years for both guys. Boras also stated to the media that he was looking for 6 years, 12mil/year for Beltran. This was when he was getting a lot of attention around the trade deadline. Really, you have to consider this a starting offer.

    In this market, 6 years is about the limit. In terms of money, no player got more than 13mil/year last season, even though it was a good crop of players (Pudge, Vlad, Tejada, Sheffield). I don’t see Beltran or Beltre getting much more than these guys.

    You also have to consider that the buzz for these two will wear off. Beltre is a novelty right now, because he is really putting on a show. Right now, the MVP talk has led to him getting a lot of press. Beltre has little chance of getting the MVP (Barry Bonds SHOULD win, and Scott Rolen might win). If he doesn’t win it, and espeically if the Dodgers don’t do well in the playoffs, interest in Beltre will go way down. Carlos Beltran was at the center of the news when he was getting discussed in trades, and that has slowed down a lot.

    In the winter, long after all the buzz has died down, Boras and the GMs of a bunch of teams will compare what these guys have done, and what the market looks like for comparable players. Thus, I don’t see them getting more than Vlad or Tejada did. Beltran is good at everything, but is not exceptional at any one thing. Beltre is risky because he has not played at this level for a long time. Tejada, Vlad, and Sheffield all had better stats and had played at an elite level for years. Tejada and Vlad were also only 28, so age was not an issue. All three guys had been legit MVP type players for several years. The point is, in this market, I doubt that Beltre or Beltran will get stupid money. At least nothing in the Manny Ramirez, Todd Helton, A-Rod neighborhood.

    I could see Beltre signing for 9mil/year for 5 years, and Beltran going for as little as 11mil/year, for 5-6. But lets suppose the M’s sign BOTH Beltre and Beltran to six year deals, with Beltre getting 69 mil (10mil, 11mil, 11mil, 11mil, 12mil, 14mil option) , and Beltran getting 75 (12mil, 12mil, 12mil, 12mil, 12mil, 15mil option). Both of these figures are high estimates. Both deals would include options for the final year, and they might be able to include incentives of stipulations in Beltre’s because he has not played at a high level for a long time. The Mariners have at least 35 million to spend next season. Beltre and Beltran would get 22 mil combined from the above contracts in 2004. That would leave 13 mil left for a starter and some role players. Since the M’s are going to pay minimal salaries to Olivo, Bucky, Lopez, Madritsch, Putz, Sherrill, Mateo, Achison, and possibly Reed, they can afford to splurge on some big-time free agents. If the M’s trade Ibanez, Winn, Franklin, or other marginal players (perhaps Spiezio or Shiggy if they get super-lucky) they will be even better off. Since the M’s have Moyer, Boone, Franklin, Hasegawa, and the Cirrillo money coming off the books after 2005 (about 30 mil total), they can take a chance this year without getting hosed. I don’t know who might be available in free agency in 2005-2006, but Beltre and Beltran could be good risks to take given this situation.

  31. Daniel Stern on August 31st, 2004 11:31 pm

    “If he was hitting .260 (his career average prior to this year), with the same number of homeruns, he would have a line something like this: .260/.310/.580 – which would be nice, sure as shootin’, but wouldn’t be getting him any MVP talk.”

    Hmm, a Gold Glove caliber 3B slugging .580 in the best pitcher’s park in the league- might not get him any MVP talk, but wouldn’t mean he wouldn’t deserve some.

  32. Richard on September 1st, 2004 5:28 pm

    The guy who said that the Dodgers won’t offer Beltre more than a three-year deal should not get his news from Ben Maller. The Dodgers’ owner came out and said that report was completely false. The Dodgers will re-sign Beltre as a matter of course. DePodesta has called re-signing Beltre his top priority for the off-season. The Dodgers’ new owner wants his honeymoon period to go on, and he will not be out–bid for the Dodger player on track to be the first Dodger to ever hit 50 HR’s in a season in the over-100-year-history of the franchise. Mariner fans who think you are going up against Kansas City in a bidding war are kidding themselves. Only the Yankees can out-bid the Dodgers, and they already have a third baseman.

  33. Jerry on September 2nd, 2004 7:07 pm


    You don’t know what you are talking about. The Dodgers are in serious financial trouble. The team is loosing a ton of money, and they have a lot of horrible contracts. They will almost definitely cut payroll this year. I think that they might try to resign him, but they are not going to be able to pay him what Boras will want.

    Maybe I am wrong, but the Dodgers are not going to spend like they did when they went after Shawn Green and Kevin Brown. They are handicapped by those mega-contracts now, and the team is in serious financial trouble. They will say all the right things about retaining Beltre, then seriously go after Finley.