Last year Carlos Beltran was one of the best hitters in baseball--.300/.385/.525, for an OPS+ of 155--despite hitting all of 22 home runs, the fewest he'd managed in a full season since 2005. He did it with doubles and triples, 39 and 6 of them, respectively, and a batting average around .300 for the first time in a full season since 2003. This year Beltran's OPS+ is actually slightly lower (150), but he's getting at his distinctly familiar .296/.382/.542 line in a completely different year. This year he's been invited to the 2012 Home Run Derby. So what's changed?
Well, all those doubles and triples he hit last year have, so far, been turned into home runs. After hitting more than twice as many doubles and triples as home runs in 2011, he has just 12 against 20 home runs in 2012. It's a trade most people would make, but it's also one that suggests the Beltran we St. Louis Cardinals fans get back after the All-Star Break won't be the same one we saw in May and June--no matter what happens in the Home Run Derby.
Players do weird things within arbitrarily defined sample sizes. It could be that Beltran is adjusting to his declining speed by lofting more home runs than ever... or it could also be that he'll go back to hitting more doubles, to almost the same overall effect, by the end of the season. Only one thing is certain: Monday night, during the Home Run Derby, he won't get credit for any of those regressed-to-the-mean doubles.
More 2012 All-Star Game news and analysis from SB Nation St. Louis:
- Here's a full recap of the United States' dominant win over the World team at the 2012 Futures Game, which starred Cardinals prospects on both sides of the beating.
- The 2012 Home Run Derby lineup is filled with surprising contestants, not least the suddenly explosive Andrew McCutchen.