With much of the Cardinals’ lineup from their 2011 championship run returning, Carlos Beltran has essentially replaced Albert Pujols as their new big name player this season. For the most part, Beltran has fared pretty well in his first year with St. Louis, leading the team with 32 homers, knocking home 97 runs and posting OBP/slugging numbers of .346/.495. To be clear, the Cardinals have a very formidable and well-balanced offense, with players like Matt Holliday, David Freese, Yadier Molina and Allen Craig all posting seasons with comparable effectiveness. However, all those players are World Series champs from last year, so the question is, what’s something new that Beltran can bring to the table?
Beltran is 35 years old now and has a muddled legacy, many thinking of him as a solid regular season player who will put up numbers, but not a guy you’d want in a high-pressure playoff situation. True, he’s only been to the playoffs twice, with his last run ending in 2006 with him watching a called strike three for the last out in a Game 7 (NLCS vs. the Cards while he was with the Mets). Even though his playoff performances have actually been amazing (.366/.485/.817 with 11 homers in 22 games), he may be running out of time to be an integral part of another team’s World Series run. This is a great chance for him to make his mark, and it will be interesting to see how things go for him now that he’s a Cardinal.