In a Big Way: Beltre to Boston

Adrian Beltre is Boston bound after reaching an agreement on a one-year deal for $9 million with a 2011 player option for $5 million. Beltre fits Boston’s plan and comes at a bargain price. The Scott Boras camp also makes out well as the player option protects Beltre if the shoulder continues to hamper him and/or he has a disappointing year in Boston. But if things go as planned and he has a good year then he can enter the free agent market again with enhanced value. Now that’s the art of a good deal and a mutually beneficial situation for both parties involved.

Beltre will be entering his 31-year-old season in 2010 and the performance arrow is pointing up. He struggled in 2009 with a disappointing .265/.304/.379 line with only eight homers in 449 at-bats. For the first time in many years Beltre missed significant playing time due to injuries. He appeared in a career low (since he became a starter) 111 games in 2009 as he battled shoulder woes and a very rare yet painful injury to the groin area. The shoulder surgery caused Beltre to miss over a month of time mostly during July and the groin accident forced him to miss nearly three weeks of time in August.

If Beltre’s shoulder cooperates with him in 2010 we can expect him to have a big season in Boston that boosts his prospective value on the free agent market next season. One thing that jumps out about Beltre’s 2009 is his diminished walk rate which sat at 4.1% after this number never seeped below 6% during his prior four seasons in Seattle. This change cannot be precisely explained as his plate discipline statistics varied during his five seasons with the Mariners. Beltre found different ways to be successful at the plate but his Z-Swing percentage (71.2%) was a bit heavier than years past. He swung at more pitches inside the strike zone but the difference is likely minimal or just static but could explain his lighter walk rates.

Beltre’s 2009 BABIP of .302 seems to be in line if not a bit padded than his career BABIP of .293. His best BABIP as a Mariner came in 2009 after the number typically sat in the .290’s save for the aberration (.279) in 2008.

Interestingly enough the Hardball Times BABIP calculator pegs Beltre’s estimated 2009 BABIP at .315 based on his batted ball profile. A .315 BABIP would have given Beltre this triple-slash assuming that all the extra hits were singles:


That looks better but even this rosier picture fails to push Beltre above the .400 slugging percentage marker. I’m not convinced that this adjustment is even proper because Beltre’s 2009 BABIP seems to be in line with his career and Seattle norms. You can use it at your own discretion.

The injuries may have taken the largest toll on Beltre’s power output. Perhaps the shoulder woes sapped some of his bat speed as fastballs uncharacteristically ate up Beltre in 2009. He had a -7.5 run value below average against fastballs in 2009 after always appearing in the black against the pitch dating back to his 2003 season. Beltre’s success against fastballs in 2010 could be a telling tale next season and with a healthy shoulder there’s reason to expect improvement.

On top of a clean bill of health Beltre is moving to the much more friendlier Fenway Park.’s park factors had Safeco Field as the tenth-best run suppressing environment in 2009. On the contrary, Fenway Park ranked as the eighth-best run enhancing park in 2009. That big green wall in Boston also figures to help out Beltre. Leaving Safeco Field may be one of the best things to happen to Beltre. Here are his pronounced home/road splits since he joined Seattle in 2005:

2005 home: .263/.312/.382. OPS=.694
2005 away: .248/.295/.440. OPS=.735

2006 home: .251/.310/.467. OPS=.777
2006 away: .283/.343/.462. OPS=.805

2007 home: .264/.319/.426. OPS=.745
2007 away: .288/.320/.538. OPS=.858

2008 home: .240/.303/.400. OPS=.703
2008 away: .292/.349/.512. OPS=.861

2009 home: .250/.283/.364. OPS=.647
2009 away: .279/.324/.393. OPS=.717

And for good measure here are those home road splits over the past three seasons:

2007-2009 home: .252/.304/.399. OPS=.703
2007-2009 away: .287/.331/.488. OPS=.819

There’s no doubt that Beltre has enjoyed his time away from Safeco field over the past five seasons. He’s slugged the ball with much more authority and his two .500+ slugging rates on the road before his injury-plagued 2009 campaign are downright tantalizing.

A great deal of Beltre’s 2009 success will hinge on his health but Beltre’s still in his prime and he’s going to be in a great environment and line up to do some big damage in 2010. The spotlight won’t be on Beltre unlike the beginning of his last contract in Seattle and he has a lot to play for since he knows a huge season could lead to a big pay day next off season.

Expect Beltre to hit in the .280-.290 range and I believe he’s going to hit 30+ homers next year if he’s on the field. As crazy as it may sound a home run total nearing 40 is not out of the question with the friendly confines of Fenway Park. The Fans (121 ballots cast) project Beltre to hit .274/.327/.470 with 23 homers in 140 games in 2010 and I’d imagine these projections will start moving upward with Beltre now moving to Fenway.

All the ingredients are there for Beltre to explode in 2010 and he’s a good bet to provide great value to your fantasy team in 2010. He will likely be on the board in the early middle rounds and don’t let him get past you.

Adrian Beltre could be your Fantasy Team MVP in 2010.

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Dan is a Sports Marketing major at Duquesne University and most recently interned with Baseball America. He also spent parts of two seasons as an intern with the Washington Nationals. He aspires to work in a baseball operations department and can be reached at

37 Responses to “In a Big Way: Beltre to Boston”

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  1. will says:

    Are you kidding me? Aside from his outlier season in 2004, Beltre has never had more than 26 HRs and only once has hit higher than .280. Yet, you really believe it is reasonable to expect that he will top both marks in his age 31 season (is he really only 31)? Players exiting their prime who start getting injuries aren’t exactly great bets to outperform their career numbers.

    Also, Beltre is not a dead pull hitter, so he isn’t likely to benefit as much from the short Fenway LF. Besides, it’s not like Beltre is the only player capable of benefitting from the wall. Any right handed batter would be expected to enjoy the same advantage, so it really cancels out in the grand scheme of comparison.

    Finally, with Beltre, the Red Sox are now casting aside their $12mn investment in Lowell. Assuming he can mostly recover from his injuries, then it is very reasonable to expect that Lowell will be a better player than Beltre (he probably is a better hitter even if he doesn’t fully recover).

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    • Corky says:

      “Assuming he can mostly recover from his injuries, then it is very reasonable to expect that Lowell will be a better player than Beltre (he probably is a better hitter even if he doesn’t fully recover).”

      If they were both DHs, this might be true, but if you include defense, Beltre is the better player. Lowell’s hip injury killed his mobility and range. There’s a reason the Sox are desperate to not have him play 3B next season.

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      • will says:

        You are correct to point out that Lowell’s hip injury killed his range, but Lowell will now be over 1 full year removed from the surgery, so it isn’t unreasonable to think that he will improve defensively. Before the hip surgery, Lowell was close to Beltre’s peer on defense, so the assumption is only asking Lowell to restore some of his lost range.

        I am sure the Red Sox don’t think he can recover, and that’s fine, but they are essentially spending $22mn in an attempt to get the same season one would expect from a healthy Lowell. Of course, Beltre himself has developed a history of nagging injuries. In 2008 he had both shoulder and thumb surgery and then last year the shoulder had to be operated on again. Surely, there is also some risk here?

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    • Bodhizefa says:

      Dave Cameron just mentioned in his column today that Beltre was a “significant upgrade” over Lowell. So it seems I’m not the only one who would think that your comment about it being reasonable to expect Lowell to be better is just a little out there.

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  2. Bodhizefa says:

    will says: “Assuming he can mostly recover from his injuries, then it is very reasonable to expect that Lowell will be a better player than Beltre”

    Please stop drinking before you write things on the internet.

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    • will says:

      That was an intelligent response, but I probably shouldn’t be surprised.

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      • Bodhizefa says:

        I figured since you didn’t bother to do any research on the matter, my response was pretty fair.

        In the end, your statement is nothing but silliness. Is it possible that Lowell is a better player than Beltre in 2010? Sure, anything is possible, and Lowell has shown that he can be a 3+ WAR player in the recent past. But he’s 36 years old, coming off wrist surgery from like a week ago, is not as good as Beltre defensively, and may still be recovering from his hip surgery. So it doesn’t seem probable that he’ll be better than a 31-year-old whose swing is tailor-made for Fenway. And reasonable? Not by any stretch of the imagination, intoxicated or no.

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      • Bodhizefa says:

        That should read thumb injury and not wrist.

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  3. Bodhizefa says:

    By the way, this is an awesome signing for the Red Sox. Unless Beltre wanted nothing to do with all other teams and parks in the big leagues, the rest of baseball should be kicking themselves right now.

    From a fantasy perspective, I think 30 homers is within hailing distance now if Beltre can stay on the field. And a .280-.290 batting average doesn’t seem so outlandish either. He’s a guy I’d probably move into my Top 10 at 3rd base, and there’s even a slim chance he could produce at a Top 5 level there this year. I just hope he keeps stealing bases.

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  4. Ian says:

    Dan…30-40 homers? Sorry, but that is hilarious and I LIKE Beltre. Expect pretty defense, 10-20 homers, fairly low OBP and a mid-summer DL stint. Lets revisit this topic around this time next year :)

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    • sean says:

      Ian, finally a voice of reason.

      If Beltre really had a 80/30/100/.280 season left in the tank, then why would he negotiate for the player option in 2011 at half the value of 2010. Sounds to me like an insurance policy type contract for an overhyped, over-the-hill, never-was slugger…

      If he hits 20 HRs, I’d be doing backflips. I expect 420 ABs and something in the 15-18 HR range with an average in the 260s

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      • R M says:

        Sean, it is pretty funny that you accuse one projection of being unreasonable, and make a ridiculous, unfounded one of your own in the same post.

        He averaged a little more than 25 homeruns from 2006-2008, and a shoulder injury sapped his power in 2009. The last time Beltre failed to top 420 at bats was 1998, and the last time he failed to top 18 homeruns (outside of 2009) was 2001. And he is moving from one of the least hitter friendly parks to a very hitter friendly park. Unless you have some sort of psychic power that tells you this is going to happen, I would put some thought into a projection before posting it next time.

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      • Judy says:

        My understanding is that the Red Sox wanted the player option because it lowers their 2010 payroll for luxury tax purposes by treating the contract as a 2 year deal.

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    • R M says:

      Ian, did you just project a DL stint? For a player whose lowest AB total from 2002-2008 was 556? Now that is hilarious.

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      • sean says:


        Your 2006-08 sample saw prime power aged Beltre get 620, 595, and 556 ABs while hitting 25, 26, and 25 HRs. Beltre will be 31, is coming off of serious injury, and as things stand on the Sox today will have to contend for PT.

        Looks like you’re the one who’s not thinking. Then again, why am I not surprised…

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  5. Johnny Tuttle says:

    I’m a little surprised that I’m the first wondering here about his PT. Will he be in some sort of a rotation with Lowell and Kotchman to play opposite Youkilis, whether Youk’s at 1B or 3B? Is it a given that Kotchman will be welded to the pine? That Lowell will be moved?

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    • Dan Budreika says:

      Kotchman appears headed to Seattle now. Boston is getting back Bill Hall and prospect(s).

      Looks like Hall will be a reserve with Beltre at 3B full time and Youkilis at 1B. I’d imagine they would try to move Lowell too unless he miraculously agrees to be a bench player if the Sox can’t get fair value in return for him. My guess is they will hope he’s healthy in March and deal him during Spring Training.

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      • Johnny Tuttle says:

        Hall will still need his ABs, no? Is Tek there, too, pushing VMart to 1B occassionally? And of course Lowell might bring back another hitter if and when he goes.

        I do see Beltre as the starter, but he’s going to get something less than a full # of starts. It’s something to consider in drafting him, particularly in daily lineup leagues when you’re willing to handcuff him with another starting option.

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      • Johnny Tuttle says:

        I should point out that in saying that Hall needs his ABs, I mean that he will get 150 or so at a minimum, and they inevitably come at a starter’s expense. That contributes to the pushes on PT Beltre faces from Lowell (or return on Lowell) and the twin catchers.

        If I were his agent (and I know he’s a smart agent), I wouldn’t have tied the vesting option to PA. Unless I were feeling particularly litigious.

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      • R M says:

        I’m not sure I really understand your concern. Every team in baseball has utility/backup players who amass a good number of at bats. They also have starters who play “full time”, which obviously does not constitute playing all 162 games. Varitek is officially the backup catcher. And yes, occasionally V-Mart will be able to give Youk the day off at 1st. How does any of this amount to Beltre not playing the full number of games? At $9 mil, the Red Sox are clearly dedicated to using him as their starter.

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      • Johnny Tuttle says:

        Fair enough, R M. My only concern is that the Sox clearly have more and better quality backups than do other teams, and with some concerns about keeping Beltre healthy (however well-founded they may be), we might see him dip below the normal rest patterns for a typical starting 3B.

        Once Lowell is addressed, my concerns could evaporate in an instant, particularly considering Tek’s and Hall’s relatively meagre offense.

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  6. Andrew says:

    Projecting 30 to 40 home runs is just absurd. He’s an OK late-round grab with a little upside. Is Dan by chance a Sox fan?

    It’s a great deal for Boston from a real baseball perspective due to the excellent defense that he provides, but Beltre’s days of Mixed League fantasy stardom are long gone.

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  7. Big Oil says:

    I’d tend to agree 30 is more a ceiling that a floor for our performance expectations…right now he is going around 211 in the draft…I’m not sure I’d grab him anytime before (depending on draft format) rounds 13-15 in a 12 team league (although he has gone as high as 121 apparently).

    Also, the groin injury link had me nervous to click.

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  8. Jimbo says:

    Seriously folks? I’m surprised how much emotion is overtaking logic here.

    If only there was some way to get a comp on Beltre. Like, perhaps a former Seattle player with similar power who recently moved to a better park.

    Exhibit A should be Raul Ibanez. Averaged 23hr in his Seattle days, with a slightly lower HR/FB rate than Beltre. Moved to Phili and hit 34, including a 2nd half swoon. Oh, and he’s about 7 years older than Beltre.

    One thing I’ve learned here is don’t come to a discussion without some facts. Might not be the right facts, or there may be better ones out there, but at least *something* that can be debated.

    So for those who agree with “Projecting 30 to 40 home runs is just absurd” how about some support for that?

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    • Bodhizefa says:

      Safeco actually plays fairly well for left-handed hitters, so an Ibanez comp really wouldn’t have much to do with Beltre’s future as a hitter outside of Safeco.

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    • Andrew says:

      I think you have a misunderstanding of MLB park factors. Sure, Safeco depresses home run totals. Unfortunately, so too does Fenway. Last year, Safeco ranked 24th for adjusted home run rates while Fenway was 21st based on ESPN MLB park factors.

      As a dead pull hitter, Beltre might certainly hit a ton of doubles off the Green Monster, but – once again – projecting 30 to 40 home runs is indeed absurd.

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  9. Dan says:

    Beltre’s defense makes him avery attractive 3B for Scoresheet players.

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  10. MDS says:

    whoa whoa whoa…. lets not talk about 40 HR unless Barroid is his personal trainer and Victor Conte is his dietician. Lets say, you can reasonable expect 30 HR and secretly hope for 40

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  11. Ewan says:

    While the 40 HR projection may be a bit bold, don’t forget that this is a guy that nearly hit 50 once. Whether he was on something at the time we’ll never know, but it’s not like he’s projecting Craig Counsell to hit 40 HR.

    All the pessemists who think 10-20 is expected, have you even looked at his stats prior to last year, which was injury hit combined with poor performance (and an awful HR/FB%). He hit 76 HR over the 3 previous years, in a park well known for supressing RH pull hitters. As was pointed out, he may not end up with 40 HRs, but I think 40 doubles is pretty easily attainable providing he can stay healthy

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  12. Dan Budreika says:

    Let’s revisit what I said again: “Expect Beltre to hit in the .280-.290 range and I believe he’s going to hit 30+ homers next year if he’s on the field.”

    The guy was consistently hitting 25-26 home runs from 2006-2008 and played half his games at Safeco Field. I emphasize…IF HE’S ON THE FIELD…it seems likely that he will knock 30+ homers. Look at his splits in the original post. He was great on the road save for his overall down year in 2009 when he was hurt.

    Moving on: “As crazy as it may sound a home run total nearing 40 is not out of the question with the friendly confines of Fenway Park.”

    I never said he WOULD hit 40 home runs. I’m saying it’s NOT OUT OF THE QUESTION that he has a HR total NEARING 40. Not 40 precisely. I said nearing HR. He won’t hit everything over the Green Monster and many off the Monster. I’d put 40 as his highest ceiling. Think of this as a higher percentile PECOTA projection type thing with much reason for optimism.

    Some of you don’t find 30+ homers from him too crazy due to the environment change…IF HE’S HEALTHY and returns to those .500+ slugging numbers in a better environment (he slugs well at home and on the road since he’s out of Safeco) then we can expect a high HR output. .500+ combined slugging can give you 30-40 homers. For example, Jason Bay slugged .537 last year and hit 36 homers.

    We have consistent data here where 2009 was the aberration. The shoulder woes looked like it ruined his season. He’s consistently been on the field during every other season of his career. And now he appears healthy.

    There is a lot of reason for optimism. I can’t wait to revisit this post in October 2010.

    I will also refer you to Dave Cameron’s post on Beltre’s signing:

    “Offensively, Fenway Park should be a huge boon to his numbers, as Dave Allen showed how well Beltre’s game is suited towards a park that is friendly to right-handed pull hitters. He’s leaving the hardest park in baseball for a right-handed hitter and going to one that famously improves the performances of players with his offensive approach. Beltre has been a league average hitter while toiling in Safeco Field, and he has the chance to be much more than that in Boston.”

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  13. Andrew says:

    Improving his offensive production is one thing; boosting his home run total is another. Sorry, but 30 home runs is his upside, not 40. Again, Fenway depresses home runs, nearly as much as Safeco does.

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  14. ray says:

    wow….since when is 31 years of age old? In 1977 Rod Carew, in his age 31 season, hit 16 HRs and hit .388 and won the AL MVP. In his next 8 seasons he hit a total of 32 HRs. So why can’t a guy who has hit 25+ HRs in 4 of the past 5 seasons, not be able to hit 30+ HRs in a better hitters park, and a better lineup?
    Granted Beltre will not sniff .388 or .300 for that matter, but the guy has the power to hit 30+ assuming he is healthy.

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  15. crix says:

    If Beltre is healthy he will def. hit 30 hr with Boston. Any nay sayers must not know how bad a ballpark safeco really is for righties that hit lindrives. The wind pushes everything down most days or to right field, so unless you are Mark McGwire or Albert Pujols, it’s tuff to hit it out very much. I bet Sox nation is going to fall in love with Beltre, just watch how hard he hits everything. (he might go to his knee on some of his swings though which looks awful but, don’t worry about that it’s normal 4 him.)

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  16. crix says:

    Oh yeah, he also check swings and points to the 1st base ump instead of letting the home up call it which has hurt him in the past but, try not to let it frustrate you too bad.

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  17. Donald Trump says:

    In his career, Beltre has 56 at bats in Fenway. Sure,not a large sample size,but he has hit zero home runs, 3 doubles, and sports a .179/.299/.232 line. Yes, his SLG is below his OPB.
    I’m staying away from him next year, and I’m a sox fan.

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