by Jimmy Hascup
Boston fans must get spoiled every offseason. Not only are they one of the most pro-active teams in baseball when it comes to signing and trading for players, they’re also not afraid to shake things up, even after makings the playoffs this season. No matter what, the Sox’s management will do anything in its power to better the ballclub. In this case, the reported signing Adrian Beltre infuses both youth and improves the defense at third base, especially after a down year from Mike Lowell. But in a fantasy sense, did Beltre do anything last year to hint at a better 2010?
449 At Bats
.265 Batting Average (119 Hits)
8 Home Runs
13 Stolen Bases
.304 On Base Percentage
.379 Slugging Percentage
.302 Batting Average on Balls in Play
The best part for Boston in signing Beltre to a one-year deal, with a player option is that they’ll get a very motivated player. Beltre, in his age-32 season, will be able to hit the free agent market again and earn an even bigger keep if he’s able to stay healthy, which is obviously a concern. Shoulder and groin injuries hampered him this year year, limiting him to just 111 games, and it is certainly an issue going into 2010.
But when you’re in fantasy leagues, a manager’s biggest worry is whether or not a player will produce to his capabilities. You want a player who is properly motivated, and right now, Beltre’s one-year deal provides the perfect incentives for fantasy owners to take a chance on him this season. Let the eight homeruns, low RBI totals, and meager slugging percentage influence other managers into thinking Beltre’s best years are behind him. If his injuries are a thing of the past – which Boston believes – then it could be a very nice bounce-back year for the Red Sox’s third basemen.
For Beltre, the average is one that fantasy leaguers will have to live with. HIs .302 BABIP is actually higher than his .293 career average, so a huge jump in batting average shouldn’t really be expected. Despite the injuries, his strikeout rate of 16.5 percent did not deviate much from his career 17.2 percent rate. Though, his walk rate dropped to a career 4.1 percent level, when the norm is 7.1 percent. There isn’t a lot in his plate discipline numbers to point at anything specific there, as the only huge difference existed in his swing rate, with increased three percent this season. The OBP was hindered by a career-low in walks, but I’d expect that number to improve, especially playing in a lineup like Boston possesses.
Owners who had Beltre last season were certainly disappointed. He produced at a career-low level, rivaling his numbers from his rookie year when he played in just 77 games.
Last season Beltre’s line-drive numbers fell to a career 16.4 percent lowpoint. His career suggest he should be just over 19 percent. Additionally, his ground-ball rates increased to 45.6 percent, nearly four points above his career-average. While he was able to attain the same lift on his batted balls, he wasn’t able to generate nearly the same power as he had in the past. He hit just 5.6 percent of his fly-balls over the fence. Compared to his 13.1 percent HR/FB rate, that’s a huge difference. Prior to this season, there had been no indication that Beltre’s power was regressing. The injuries he had to deal with last season definitely had an impact on his ability to drive the ball and hit for power.
Playing in the friendlier confines of Fenway Park, I’d expect Beltre’s power numbers to improve – returning to at least 20 HR and 80 RBI. He won’t need to carry the load, he’ll just be expected to continue to provide sterling defense and consistent offensive production at third base. I’m going to go out on a limb here, but I believe if Beltre is healthy, he can become a top-15 ranked third basemen in fantasy leagues. He’s averaged 24 HR, 87 RBI, 80 R, and a .270 in his career and I think barring injury should return to his previous form.
This signing signals the near-end for Lowell. While early offseason rumors had him headed to Texas, the latest have him linked to the Mets for Luis Castillo. Either way, there is no room for Lowell in Boston’s lineup, so I’d expect him to be dealt shortly.
Update: Alex Speier of WEEI Radio in Boston, is reporting that the Red Sox will trade Casey Kotchman to the Mariners for a minor leaguer, a major league bench player, and cash. The Sox still have interest in moving Lowell, however.
What do you guys think of this Beltre signing? Will he return to pre-injury form? Or do you expect another down year?
Previous Fantasy Impacts of Recent Transactions:
- Hermida to Boston
- Teahen for Fields & Getz
- Iwamura to Pittsburgh
- Hardy for Gomez
- Shoppach to Tampa Bay
- Wagner to Atlanta
- Polanco, Scutaro, Fox & Zaun
- Granderson-Scherzer-Jackson Blockbuster
- Millwood, Harden, Wolf & More
- Figgins, Lowell & More
- Lackey to the Red Sox
- Matsui, Cameron & Pierre
- Halladay/Lee Blockbuster
- Javier Vazquez to the Yankees