Last night I was called to task when, on Twitter, I said that Carlos Beltran was not as good as his hype and endorsed the opinion that David Wright is not a superstar. The challenge came in the following form:
Let’s take these issues one at a time.
When the Mets signed Beltran he was looked at as the prized free agent of the 2004-05 offseason. Not just by the Mets and Mets fans but by everyone in baseball. Beltran was, indeed, an excellent player and it was a feather in Omar Minaya’s cap to have signed him. Beltran was coming off a year in which he had 121 runs, 38 homers, 104 RBI, 92 walks, 36 doubles and 42 stolen bases while player for Kansas City and Houston. He also had a monster post season in which he batted .435 with 21 runs, 8 homers and 14 RBI in 12 games.
In looking at his numbers previous to that point in his career I must admit that my use of the term ‘hype’ when refering to Beltran may have been a bit of an exaggeration. He had, indeed, compiled a nice resume in the years leading up to his free agency making him worthy of being the prized free agent that year. What I meant was that Beltran had had an excellent year and was on the top of his contract value when he was signed. I don’t hold it against Beltran for cashing in when he was on top of his game but there was nowhere for him to go but down from there. And his first season for the Mets was, in fact, a very down year. But he followed that with 3 very good (okay, excellent) years that lived up to the promise we fans sought when he was signed. Though the last couple of seasons have been ravaged by injuries Beltran is on track to have another excellent year.
I’m not afraid to say it: mea culpa. (Though I don’t agree with any ballplayer making the kind of money Beltran does. But that’s a different discussion.)
The Wright question struck me as odd because my comment said nothing of how I would rank Wright among other third basemen of his time. In fact, to my discredit, my comment was more subjective. Would I consider a particular player a superstar? This question has nothing to do with how the players stats compare to his contemporaries but how I see the player myself.
Indeed the numbers Wright has put have have been great. Per 162 games through his career he’s averaging 103 runs, 41 doubles, 27 home runs & 106 RBI. Given these numbers it’s hard for me to argue that Wright is not a superstar. And if you’re a follower of sabermetrics (which I am not) this conclusion is even stronger.
But for some reason I feel that he has not fulfilled the expectations I had of him. Yes, he’s been great on the field. But I expected more from him as a team leader. Yes, he’s always there with a quote and has handled himself very well in the wake of Fred Wilpon’s recent criticism of everything Met as well as other situations that have come up over the years. But I had stronger expectations. Perhaps that he’d be a more vocal leader and cheerleader in the mold of Gary Carter or even Paul Lo Duca.
Perhaps it’s unfair of me to rate a superstar based on my own expectations or even personality. Barry Bonds failed on both of those fronts as well but he was a superstar (regardless of the steroid question). But like I said above this is a subjective question and at this point in time this is how I see it. My opinion, as with most open minded people, is subject to change. Please feel free to try and convince me.