Beltre, slacker

DMZ · December 22, 2004 at 11:19 am · Filed Under Mariners 

One of the things I’ve heard from people who don’t like the Beltre signing is that in his Dodger years he only really cranked it up late in the season, when the team was starting to think about trading him. But that’s not true.

In 2003, his best full month was September. But there’s an excellent case to be made that this is where the Return of Beltre starts to happen — his first-half OPS is .642, and then he get better, better, and better to finish the year. Except even his peak OPS wasn’t that good. And also that in 2002, his September was terrible. His best months were July and August, and those looked like September 2003, but overall… there’s no pattern here. Beltre wasn’t cranking it up whenever trade rumors surfaced.

And that makes the 2003 dip even weirder. If you thought his 2002 second-half improvement was him getting stronger, then 2003 was a step back, followed by a slow ascent to the level he picked it up for 2004.

But this — it’s like reading a stock chart and trying to ascribe causality without there being clear news. It’s not as if analysts issued a “strong buy” advisory ahead of July 2002 and then yelled “sell” before September began.

What we can tell is that Beltre’s not some 90% slacker. Whatever’s going on, random fluctuation or health issues or whatnot, it’s not that he only concentrated for the last eight weeks every year.


16 Responses to “Beltre, slacker”

  1. Jim Thomsen on December 22nd, 2004 11:25 am

    I’d still do backflips every day over Beltre’s DOWNSIDE. That’s how good I think he is … and how happy I am to have him in Seattle.

  2. chris w on December 22nd, 2004 11:29 am

    I hadn’t ever heard that criticism of Beltre before, but in any case, that’s the sort of argument that will almost always be wrong in baseball. It’s a lot like the mostly-debunked theory that guys play better in the year before free agency. Baseball isn’t a game where trying harder during the game is likely to make you better (unlike, I would argue, basketball and football). Yeah, doing things like stretching and keeping in shape can provide benefits, but those benefits show up in the long-term, not on a month-to-month or even a year-to-year basis.

  3. Slooz on December 22nd, 2004 11:32 am

    Yeah, that’s a new criticism that I have not heard. Is this from the LA media or blogs?

  4. DMZ on December 22nd, 2004 11:37 am

    Nah, it’s just people I know from and in LA.

  5. Adam T on December 22nd, 2004 11:41 am

    Was it 2002 or 2003 when he had his appendix removed out of country? I’m sure this would help explain a bad year. If I remember correctly – he came back to the states looking like he weighed 100 lbs.

  6. DMZ on December 22nd, 2004 11:46 am


  7. JP on December 22nd, 2004 11:56 am

    I suppose we will know how good Beltre is in Seattle as soon as we know who our next governor is. From what I can tell, that will be at least a year from now.

  8. Tyler on December 22nd, 2004 12:24 pm

    I have lived in San Diego for the last four years and I have heard a ton of crap about how Beltre is a slow starter. The last couple of years, the radio talk shows have really harped on him about it. However, given the way that the Mariner’s tend to fizzle in the latter months, someone that blows up in August and September sounds like the perfect addition to the club.

  9. Trent on December 22nd, 2004 12:29 pm

    I have a laugh everytime some of my friends, who are Dodgers fans, bring stuff like that up. Of course, I always direct them towards video highlights of Adrian Beltre limping around the bases after another homerun last season.

  10. Shoeless Jose on December 22nd, 2004 12:43 pm

    Well, if everybody in LA is so down on Beltre I guess they all breathed a sigh of relief when Seattle took him off their hands. That DePo is one slick son of a gun.

  11. Jesse on December 22nd, 2004 12:52 pm

    What I think about the inconsistent but occasionally compelling anecdotes about good seasons in contract years is that when that situation does develop it has a lot more to do with what players are doing outside the game than during the game. Sure there may be a few players (Vince Carter) who legitimately don’t try as hard when there’s nothing at stake, but mostly I think it comes down to things like booze, women, and sleep.

    While I’ll be the first to admit that in reality I have no actual knowledge on this subject, it also explains to me why it seems to affect some players more than others or a given player at different points in their career. But anyway, in a contract year I think players are more likely to be serious about their conditioning, what they put in their bodies, how much sleep they get, all of that. Maybe I’m too cynical; maybe they pay tons of attention to that all the time, but when faced with a guy who’s a classic contract year player, that’s my general assumption. I bet it’s a lot harder to hit a baseball or pitch (Freddy) when you’re hungover.

    Anyway, that doesn’t make much of a prediction about Beltre. I think it’s more than likely that he really turned the corner. But I also think it’s unlikely that over the next couple seasons in Seattle he will be as careful with his off the field habits as he probably was during this last contract year. But I don’t know, maybe he doesn’t drink.

  12. Brandyn Jacquart on December 22nd, 2004 1:20 pm

    Ok say we do sign Odalis Perez to a good contract(3 years 18 to 21 Mil) our Rotion is Fine then with Piniero, Perez, Meche, Moyer, and Mandarich(SP)Key is no batting practice Franklin…..What about our Bullpen?? THis is my top 7 list for Bullpen pitchers avaliable Scott Williamson, Antonio Osuna, Jim Mecir, Chris Hammond, Terry Adams, and Curtis Leskanic, Ramiro Mendoza. I wanted to get Steve Kline but he was quickly snached up by the O’s(for a very good contract at 2.75 Mil a year) So who do u believe we will sign and who will fit the best wit our group?? My oppinion is to get Scott W. for a power setup man possible closer over Incosistant Putz and then Chris Hammond for a good situational lefty for the bullpen.????????

  13. Adam S on December 22nd, 2004 1:30 pm

    If Beltre can dog it for half a season and still put up the numbers he did in 2004, then I’m OK with him being a slacker 🙂 I’d rather have “slackers” like Beltre than guys who give “110%” like Bloomquist, Wilson, and Franklin.

    That said, I don’t think any athlete can “crank it up” for an extended period.

  14. mfan on December 22nd, 2004 1:36 pm

    Mandarich on the mound. Now that would be an intimidating presence. He wouldn’t last long, though, with the current steroid policy.

  15. misterjonez on December 22nd, 2004 3:38 pm

    Beltre is the only guy I can remember in recent years that has had the “Limitless Tools, but he’s just not putting it together” guy that actually put it together. The part I don’t get is how Dodger fans kept saying “If Beltre would just live up to his potential, LA wouldn’t need any more offense,” and now that he did it, everyone in LA is saying stuff like “Nah, fluke season..he’s just playing for a contract, and now he’s gonn stink it up like he did before.”

    Even if you take what he did in 2004 and apply a similar decline to what Boone experienced after his 2001 explosion, you still end up with a much improved player. And although I really hated listening to writers in St. Louis talk about Rolen entering his “prime production” years, I have to admit that we’re looking at an eerily similar situation here with Beltre.

    And in the end, how much does it matter if a player is hot late rather than early? Arguments can be made either way to defend that a guy who rallies late/early is superior to someone who performs consistently all season, but none of them really make much sense to me. As long as he ends up with solid season averages, I don’t really care how he gets there.

  16. ToddLuvsLounging on December 23rd, 2004 1:45 pm

    I’m a Dodger fan and a Beltre fan. Naw, we’re pretty frustrated right now. Down right depressed. Beltre always showed flashes of greatness. That’s why last year was such a revelation and a pleasure to watch. He won a ton a games for us last year. He’s a good guy. He’s no slacker.

    Those second half number were a result of batting 7th, when the Dodgers were out of contention, or the games were out of reach and the pitchers fed him fastballs. The thing the Mariners will have to watch out is when there are two strikes and he starts reaching for outside sliders in the dirt. Last year he let those go or he hit them to right field. He’s strong and was driving those pitches over the fence. Plus, he’s a stud fielder at third base.

    It killing Dodger fans that all we needed was a couple of starting pitchers, a catcher, and sign Beltre. Moneyball. I loved the book, but it’s no fun when your team starts losing/trading players you’ve grown to care about.