The Yankees’ offense continues to be among the best in baseball this season, and that’s thanks in part to the improved play of 17-year MLB veteran Carlos Beltran.
Beltran, coming off a disastrous and injury-plagued 2014 season that saw him post career lows in batting average (.233) and OPS (.703), stared this season slowly as well. In April Beltran batted just .162, leading many to conclude that the Cardinals were right to cut bait with the aging slugger after a great 2013 season with St. Louis.
Beltran didn’t even hit his first home run of the 2015 season until May 10, but that was the turning point for the Yankees’ outfielder. May and June saw Beltran raise his average to .260 and smack six additional home runs. But Beltran came across a bump in the road when he was forced to make a trip to the disabled list with a bruised rib cage on July 1. He missed 12 games in July and struggled to hit when he came back.
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Then August saw Beltran heat up in earnest. In fact, of the 25 games Beltran has played in August, he failed to record a hit only three times. His batting average for the month is .338 and his OPS is an incredible 1.060. He hit five more long balls in August to boost his season total to 13, including a very important three-run blast on August 14 that gave the Yankees a late lead and eventual win over the Blue Jays, with whom the Bombers are fighting tooth-and-nail for the AL East title. Beltran also contributed a key home run that tied the game 7-7 in the sixth inning against the Twins on August 17, a game that the Yankees would go on to win 8-7 in 10 frames.
Beltran also took part in the Yankees’ clobbering of the Atlanta Braves this past weekend, notching six hits in the three-game set that the Yankees swept by a combined score of 38-11.
Beltran’s contributions will become all the more meaningful if the Yankees make the postseason for the first time since 2012. Beltran may be remembered in New York for looking at strike three for the final out in the deciding game of the 2006 NLCS for the Mets, but his body of work in the playoffs over his career is strong. In 51 total playoff games Beltran’s batting average is a robust .333 with 16 home runs and 40 RBI. Because of these gaudy numbers pitchers have handled Beltran conservatively in the postseason, as evidenced by his 35 career playoff walks. Beltran received the free pass 10 times in 2013 alone (17 games).
Beltran may not have the star power that A-Rod or Mark Teixeira have any more, but he is quietly making a significant contribution to the Yankees this season. And every little bit helps.