By Eric Schmidt

Not since the 2008 Major League Baseball season has the St. Louis Cardinals right fielder Carlos Beltran had what would be considered a good all-around productive season.  Beltran, while with the New York Mets  finished the 2008 season with 27 Home Runs, 112 Runs Batted In, and a .284 Batting Average.  Since then and from the 2009-2011 season, Beltran’s numbers were a combined 39 Home Runs and 159 Runs Batted In.  Not a great stretch for a player who came off a third straight 100+ RBI season in 2008, then to have a major drop off in 2009.  Now the production was not due to lack of effort, more so to nagging and lingering injuries.

In 2011, Beltran looked to be regaining his productive form, but was dealt by the Mets to the San Francisco Giants at the trading deadline, though his numbers were good at 15 Home Runs and 66 RBI’s through 98 games.  Beltran finished that season with 22 Home Runs and 84 Runs Batted In, not too shabby for a guy considered to be at the end of his career due to nagging injuries.

The Mets probably were not as convinced by his numbers or maybe thought he would never regain his All Star form from 2008.  Maybe they figured that the nagging injuries that kept Beltran out of significant amount of games the prior three seasons, were not just going to disappear and signing a player to a long term contract especially when the teams finances were going to take a major hit, probably wasn’t a good idea after all.  So losing a player that they figured may not be as good as he once was, might have motivated Beltran to regain his All Star form and compete again at the high level of Major League Baseball.

The reason I feel that Carlos Beltran may be a candidate for the 2012 Comeback Player of the Year, which may sound crazy to most baseball fans that closely watch the game, is not merely from what his numbers could have been from last year, which were good, but from what they could have been the prior seasons while he was hurting.

Beltran is once again pounding the baseball and pounding it all over the field and hard. For a team like the Cardinals who lost Albert Pujols to Free Agency and hoped that they would find a player that could put up at least a portion of his numbers, I am sure they really didn’t know what Beltran would bring to their team.  They knew that he was a great leader on the field and if and when he was back to his form, he could carry this team on his shoulders and lead them to a playoff run.  But that was not a guaranteed thinking.  More so a risk and so far that risk has paid off greatly.  Beltran, prior to tonight’s game was batting .296, 20 Home Runs and 65 Runs Batted In, which almost mirrors what he had when he left the Mets last season, but this time around, he is not being shopped on the market and he is guaranteed to finish the year with the same club.  That is a major factor in how he will end up this season.

Beltran regained his All Star form, played in his seventh All Star Game and participated in the 2012 Home Run Derby. He is batting cleanup in a line-up that has been consistent even with the loss of Albert Pujols’ big bat. The Cardinals are in the hunt for a playoff run and a lot of the credit goes to the year that Beltran is having.  He has filled the void left by Pujols, at least for now.

Carlos Beltran has always been the type of player that you would want on your team, especially when he is hot.  His first half has been remarkable and it will be exciting to see how he finishes up the season and how far can the Cardinals advance in the playoff’s, if they make it in.  A change in location might have been great for his resurgence to his All Star form and a major lift in his career, and there is no telling how long he can compete at this level, but to be healthy and happy and winning again, I am sure the pains of the prior injuries are not a thought in his mind.

 

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