Adrian Beltre’s Bat Away From Safeco

Adrian Beltre‘s contract was often lumped in with other poor free agent signings because his offensive numbers in his four years with Seattle never came close to his 2004 career year with the Dodgers. But it was a good contract. Beltre provided 67.2 million dollars of value, a small premium over his 64 million dollar contract.

Detractors looking at his offensive numbers ignored his Gold Glove-caliber defense at third. He averages better than 10 runs saved with his glove over the average third basemen during a season. Couple that with his league average bat and you have a very good player.

The thing about that league average bat is that it would play much better away from Safeco, which kills RHBs. Beltre came to Seattle in 2005; check out his home/road splits since.
639_3B_season__ha_full_8_20091006

This year he was injured and had a down year, but in the three previous he had solid away wOBAs. In neutral parks you expect a hitter to have a better home wOBA, so in a neutral home park he should outperform those already good away wOBAs.

To examine this further, I looked at his slugging rate on balls in the air (all non-grounders), play by angle, for 2005 to 2009, separated for home (Safeco) and away. The lines are estimates based on the data with standard error indicated.

slg_bia
You can see Beltre’s power is to left, typical pull power for a RHB, and that he gets more power in away parks through much of left and left-center field. The differences look slight, but many flies and lines to left over the course of a season makes up for the big difference. Interestingly, he also gets more power in away parks to extreme right field, where I had thought Safeco was a little more generous.

Beltre is an excellent defensive third basemen, and in many other ballparks he should be an above average offensive player. He has the chance to be a solid free agent signing once again.




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Dave Allen's other baseball work can be found at Baseball Analysts.


50 Responses to “Adrian Beltre’s Bat Away From Safeco”

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  1. cpebbles says:

    I was really hoping the Cardinals would land Beltre earlier this offseason, but I have a hard time seeing him signing a favorable deal with Boras as his agent and my understanding is that Busch kind of kills RH power also.

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  2. Bill says:

    Baltimore could use his bat and his glove. He’ll be a lot cheaper than Figgins. Baltimore has the money to spend and Josh Bell is still a couple of years away. Maybe Beltre would be willing to sign a shorter term contract with the expectation that his numbers will be inflated by another ballpark resulting in a bigger payday in 2012.

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  3. Ezra says:

    It was a bad contract because he went off the juice before the newly inked contract had dried. Expectations for Beltre were for a young player coming into his prime, not for a player continuing to put up his previous numbers. Take away the 2004 aberration season and Beltre’s numbers in Safeco line up perfectly with his career numbers.

    YEAR SLG ISO HR
    2000 .475 .184 20
    2001 .411 .145 13
    2002 .426 .169 21
    2003 .424 .184 23
    2004 .629 .294 48
    2005 .413 .158 19
    2006 .465 .197 25
    2007 .482 .207 26
    2008 .457 .191 25
    2009 .379 .114 8

    It is not Safeco that makes Beltre’s bat disappointing coming off the 2004 season. Hanging out with Kenji Jojima in the clubhouse just doesn’t have the same effect as spending time with Paul Lo Duca in the bathroom.

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    • gsquared says:

      How do you know that 02-03 Beltre would have put up the same numbers in Safeco as did 05-08 Beltre? (I’m excluding 09 due to injuries). Answer: you have no idea, and you fill that ignorance gap with an accusation for which you have zero actual evidence.

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      • Ezra says:

        The +.100 ISO is too great of a difference to chalk up to “not knowing”. The 02-03 Beltre was still progressing as a player to his 05-06 norm. The evidence is in Beltre’s numbers, as well as the PED use of other 2004 Dodgers players (Lo Duca, Gagne, Mota, etc).

        I know steroids are a tired arguement and we’d all like to simply ignore it; still, there is a reason why Beltre’s contract is “lumped in with other poor free agent signings” despite his performance coming very close to his actual contract.

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    • Double06 says:

      “Expectations for Beltre were for a young player coming into his prime, not for a player continuing to put up his previous numbers.”

      This is false. If the expectations were higher, he would have been paid more. He was paid like an above average player, not a superstar, and he performed like an above average player.

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      • Ezra says:

        The year before Vladimir Guerrero, considered way above the average player, recieved an $85M/6yr contract. At 25, coming off a 48HR season, Beltre was not considered “an above average player,” and as a result netted a deal with a very close annual average salary to Vlad. (Beltre received $64M/5yr)

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      • Double06 says:

        Ezra, you’re operating on the assumption that the cost of wins on the market for Guerrero and Beltre were equal in their respective free agent classes. This is wrong.

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      • cpebbles says:

        Maybe you don’t remember 2004 that well, but Vlad’s back issues clearly depressed the market for him, and injuries had clearly effected his defense. While it’s convenient for the argument you’re making to pretend that Guerrero was a once-in-a-decade superstar free agent, most teams shied away and even though he stayed relatively healthy for the Angels, he ended up performing pretty close to the contract’s value.

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    • Dave Cameron says:

      Statements like this are flying a banner from your house that says “I’m an idiot.”

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      • Ezra says:

        Look, I’m not trying to make personal accusations against any commentators here. Even if my point is flawed, I’m not throwing insults around.

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      • Dave Cameron says:

        No, you’re just randomly assassinating someone’s character on the basis of third grade logic.

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      • Joe R says:

        Dave, I’m pretty much fully on board with you and using steroids as a character killing (especially when it’s an unsupported statement).

        That could be a good post for a slow day? I can’t stand seeing players get illegitimized baselessly.

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    • ThundaPC says:

      A player having an amazingly fantastic year is a clear sign that they’re doing steroids.

      Quick, somebody investigate Ben Zobrist!

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    • ACB says:

      Davey Johnson hit 43 homeruns in 1973. Clearly he was “spending time with Paul Lo Duca in the bathroom.”

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    • R M says:

      Claims like this are just small-minded. So Beltre went on steroids for one offseason, which magically allowed him to hit 64 points above his career batting average and gave him twice the strength he had before? And then he went off steroids the subsequent offseason and this caused him to lose every single bit of strength those roids had given him in a matter of months? Right. Steroids are performance enhancers, not magic.

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  4. Matt Walsh says:

    What type of deal do you think Beltre will get? I was thinking 13 over two years.

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    • Dave Allen says:

      Do you mean 13 per year for two years or 13 total over two years. The latter, I think is way too low, and would be a great deal for any team. The former seems pretty reasonable, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he got at least a third year.

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      • Joe R says:

        Big difference between what a player *should* get and what a player *will* get.

        And Beltre is a guy with a bad walk rate, and coming off an injury plagued campaign. Maybe he does warrant $10 mil / yr via his glove (baseball prospectus crosscheck seems to agree), but for 8 figures? Crazy as it sounds, I’d almost rather just sign someone like Adam Everett and slide my 2B or SS over to 3rd.

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    • jrollpatrol08 says:

      10 mil per season, 3 year deal w the phils, who just declined pedros option. he will be a great addition to the already potent lineup. ive been wantin this cat since the middle of the season when it dawned on me that feliz’s contract was/could be up at the same time as beltres–who is a better player than his recent contract-year numbers show. hopefully they get him 3 years 8mil a year but i think boras might get him 10 a year, even with a large market for 3basemen.

      rollins
      victorino
      utley
      howard
      werth
      ibanez
      beltre
      ruiz
      dangerous

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  5. don says:

    The Phillies may need a guy, to replace their incumbent walk averse some pop good glove third baseman. Citizen’s Bank may be a good place to put old Safeco hitters out to pasture.

    His 2004 season is really absurd. 10.0 WAR?

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    • Joe R says:

      Wait, a walk averse some pop good glove 3rd baseman is the problem, so bring in Adrian Beltre?

      Even though Beltre’s better, it’s not exactly the 2nd coming of Mike Schmidt.

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      • don says:

        No, I was just commenting how much Beltre’s skill set looks like a younger better Feliz. He’s not the second coming of Schmidt or even Rolen, but as long as the rest of the infield is Rollins, Utley, and Howard he wouldn’t need to be. And if you hit deep flies to left center, CBP isn’t a bad place to play.

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  6. gsquared says:

    The 02-03 Beltre was still progressing as a player to his 05-06 norm.

    -Exactly my point. That (along with the change in league and ballpark) is why you can’t compare the 05-06 stats with the 02-03 stats and say “they were the same, so that means 2004 must have been a steroid year.” Who knows how Dodger Beltre might have done from 05-08? No one. That’s why you can’t use Beltre’s stats to conclude steroid use.

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  7. Judy says:

    Adrian Beltre is another version of JD Drew. You either believe or you don’t.

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    • gsquared says:

      I choose to believe that if someone makes a positive claim (i.e. player X took steroids) the burden is on the person making the claim to provide hard evidence. If they can’t, then I’m under no obligation to take them seriously.

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      • Joe R says:

        Unfortunately, that’s not how it works in MLB anymore.

        Not only is that blatantly unfair to the players, but it’s also ascribing a moral superiority to the past generations, like the modern day player is the only one to ever “cheat”.

        Babe Ruth very likely hit with corked bats many a time. Most likely wasn’t the only one who did.

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      • JD says:

        Normally I’d agree, but not in baseball and not when it comes to PEDs. Players had their chance. Now, I believe it’s fair and just to suspect anybody and everybody. Every player should be viewed through a skeptical eye, and not just before. Even now. There are still undetectable drugs out there.

        Joe R., of course it’s fair to the players! They are the ones who could’ve put a stop to this fifteen freaking years ago. They didn’t. They brought ALL this on themselves. It’s fair to suspect use, especially for a guy who one year basically doubled (not quite, but close) his high water mark any other season. I have no idea if Beltre did. I don’t much care (I wasn’t the one who made the original comment). But it’s downright pathetic to defend a player’s innocence in 2009. Not only is it naive, they don’t deserve your apology. The burden is on them to clean up the game and to prove they are clean. It’s not on us to only accuse a guy once there’s a smoking gun.

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      • dprat says:

        JD said…

        “The burden is on them… to prove they are clean.” This after a paragraph earlier: “There are still undetectable drugs out there.”

        Conundrum: What proof will you accept that I’m not taking undetectable drugs?

        Guess it’s just easier to damn them all. Another conundrum: And yet you still read Fangraphs?

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      • Dirty Water says:

        ‘Guess it’s just easier to damn them all’

        Easier, nothing. Most (and I do mean MOST) players have had the opportunity to speak up about drug issues but they chose to toe the union line by keeping silent. If this were not the case the ‘ped era’ would be long forgotten by now, but since they have chosen to conspire with the guilty, they too are to blame.

        JD is 100% correct, says me.

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  8. Steve C says:

    Lets see, a good hitting right handed 3rd basemen. I know just the ball park for him.

    Directions, get on 90E
    Continue until you reach the Atlantic

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    • Ethan W says:

      I would be very happy if Theo came up with Beltre with a 3 years at 10 million contract. Between he and Scutaro, the Sox suddenly have one of the better left sides of the infield instead of possibly the worst defensively.

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      • Joser says:

        But Lowell is still under contract for another year, and I have a hard time thinking of a team that would take him off Boston’s hands. Beltre in Fenway is a good fit, but it creates more problems for Theo.

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    • Red Sox Jimm says:

      After today’s “rumors” about Texas and Mike Lowell, I couldn’t imagine what team near the end of I-90 (a.k.a. the Massachusetts Turnpike) you’d be talking about …
      How about “off the Monster for a double” … YES

      Directions: get off I-90 before you drown in the Atlantic Ocean … around Kenmore Square … Copely square and back down Comm. Ave… Just ask where the paaaak is.

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  9. scatterbrian says:

    I suspect Beltre will be signing a one-year or one-year-plus-option deal because Boras will want Beltre to reestablish his value so they can look at another contract in a year or two if/when the market improves. That probably rules out a number of teams playing in pitcher’s parks. He seems like a perfect fit for Oakland–who need power, a 3B, and right-handed hitters–but I doubt Boras will want him to play half his games in that dungeon.

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  10. Nick says:

    You just convinced me. I hope the Red Sox sign him and ship Lowell out of town.

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  11. MFG says:

    He’d be the perfect first 3B in the new Twins park.

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  12. stickle says:

    Are those error bars or confidence intervals? If they are error bars and just one standard deviation wide on either side, then that is not a significant difference.
    -The stats police

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  13. Joe R says:

    BTW, here’s how Beltre’s years from 2002-09 line up (WAR, WARP-3), in order from 2002-2009

    4.1, .9
    2.8, 1 (apparently fangraphs and BP have slightly different views of Beltre in the early part of the decade)
    10.0, 10.7
    2.5, 1.6
    4.6, 4.3
    3.0, 3.8
    4.1, 4.2
    2.3, 2.1

    So his Seattle days are pretty much in agreement on the two sites (now that the BP replacement level baseline is improved), a total of +16.5 on fangraphs, and +16 on baseball prospectus.

    So using a linear logic, Beltre was worth his contract evidently. I still take issue in using a linear regression of salary since teams will pay more for a star player since they tend to generate revenue on their own.

    I’d love to run a study based on this 2010 MLB offseason, the contracts signed (in particular the annual salaries), and the PECOTA projections for each player in each season.

    I would think that the regression would be better fit by an equation in the form y = a +b*x^c, with c > 1.

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    • joser says:

      since teams will pay more for a star player since they tend to generate revenue on their own.

      What’s your evidence for this? It’s been noted multiple times on this site that “star” (as in “high WAR”) players don’t get paid more per win, but do tend to get more years on their contracts. It seems hard to believe, I know, but that’s how the actual contracts play out.

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  14. wobatus says:

    I don’t think hypothesizing Beltre took steroids is randomly assassinating his character. That all depends on your opinion of steroid use. It’s a lot different to say “You’re an idiot” than “I think Beltre went off steroids.”

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  15. PL says:

    I say Oakland gives him the most money, but only in terms of a 1 year deal. The A’s currently have no 3B.

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    • Joser says:

      If Beltre wanted a one year deal he probably would’ve accepted arbitration with Seattle. McAfee is just as hard on RH pull hitters as Safeco is, so it’s not like playing a year for the A’s is going to rehabilitate his superficial offensive numbers. And I don’t see Beane offering Beltre more dollars than he would’ve got in arb from the M’s either.

      Just because there’s a hole at 3B in Oakland and Beltre plays 3B doesn’t mean this is an automatic fit.

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  16. Josh Shep says:

    I haven’t heard this team rumored yet, and the ballpark isn’t great, but the opportunity is there: San Francisco. I’ll start by saying I’m a Giants fan and I’d love to see them sign him and move Sandoval to first, decline arbitration to Garko, and keep Ishikawa as the backup 1B/defensive replacement. Beltre’s glove is awesome, and Pablo Sandoval can’t be any worse then Garko at 1B. He’d also be an offensive upgrade to Garko as well. Getting to play road games in LA, Colorado and Arizona would be nice as well. I’d really love to hear his name come up in connection with the Giants, but alas, I doubt it.

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  17. R M says:

    I am hearing a lot of people talk about what ballpark it would be best for him to move to, but unless the dimensions of that park happen to be smallest where Beltre hits most for power, in terms of value it doesn’t really matter whether he ends up in San Francisco or Cincinatti, does it? Won’t his value to the new team be the same even if his numbers go down or up due to the park?

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  18. R M says:

    Dave A, is the value he provided using the dollar value of a win currently? Or are you using 2005’s number, if it is any different?

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    • Dave Allen says:

      The value of dollars per win is different every year and used for that year. So Beltre’s value was

      (wins in 2005) * (dollars per win in 2005) +
      (wins in 2006) * (dollars per win in 2006) +
      (wins in 2007) * (dollars per win in 2007) +
      (wins in 2008) * (dollars per win in 2008) +
      (wins in 2009) * (dollars per win in 2009)

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  19. Steve Wimer says:

    I read somewhere online, probably a Sporting News blog, that Beltre was on the list of steroid abusers. They could have been fabricating, fibbing, or have some inside information. Certainly, Beltre’s numbers do support doubts. And it’s not third-grade logic.

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