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The Two Halfs of Carlos Beltran

Players don’t usually get better as they graduate to their mid-30’s. It’s just good science. At the ripe old age of 35 Carlos Beltran had his best fantasy campaign since 2008 from a pure numbers stand point. His end of season numbers — .269, 83R, 32HR, 97RBI, 13SB – were good enough for 11th place ($17) in our rankings , but how he ended up there is a different story.

In the first half of the season 35-year-old Beltran looked more like 27-year-old Beltran, hitting .296/.382/.542 with 20 homers at the All-Star break. He slugged .707 in May. He hit .337 in June. Then July and August happened. He went from hitting like the man he replaced in the lineup, Albert Pujols, to hitting like Jeff Francoeur. Here are his slash lines from those two months.

July: .200/.231/.400
August: .211/.271/.394

That’s…that’s not good. He redeemed himself a bit with a better September/October (.849 OPS) but had pissed off a large swath of fantasy owners by that point. If you had sold high on him at mid-season you were no doubt reaping the rewards. If you were stuck playing him every day then staring at your lineup become a daily exercise in anger management.

Looking at his batted ball data tells us his BABIP was much, much lower in those two months than the others, which was expected. He didn’t have abnormally high or low line drive, ground ball or fly ball percentages in those two months, all of which could contribute to the fluctuation in BABIP. The culprit in his slump looks to be a mixture of bad luck and a lack of patience.

Beltran has been a fairly patient hitter in his career. Let’s take a look at his BB% by month.

April: 15.1
May: 11.4
June: 10.4
July: 4.4
Aug: 7.6
Sept: 14.4

Notice anything? He had the highest K% of his career (20%) last season as well. His O-Swing%, Z-Swing%, Swing% and SwStr% were all at career highs while his Contact% was a career low. I think it’s fair to say he got a bit lucky in the first half of the season to put up the kind of numbers he did and a bit unlucky in the second half, which doesn’t make for an enjoyable fantasy season.

He’ll be back in St. Louis next year, once again hitting in the middle of a very potent lineup. If he can stay healthy, which he has done the past two seasons, he should be able to produce similar totals to his 2012 season.