Next Year’s Adrian Beltre

When the Red Sox signed him to a one-year, $10MM deal in January, Adrian Beltre was coming off an injury-marred campaign.  He'd played in a career-low 111 games, and his offense had tanked.  The combination of Beltre being represented by Scott Boras and the third baseman's previous consistent work resulted in the large one-year commitment with Boston.  The deal paid off for both sides, as Beltre combined good health, his typically stellar defense, and a .319/.365/.552 line.  Which free agent position players are candidates to become the Adrian Beltre of 2011?

  • Derrek Lee – Lee was consistently solid for the 2007-09 Cubs, averaging over four wins above replacement (using the FanGraphs version of the stat).  In 2010 his power took a dive while his strikeout rate jumped, and he turned 35 this month.  He's dealt with side, hand, back, hamstring, thumb, and foot injuries this year.
  • Johnny Damon – Damon averaged 3.7 WAR for the 2008-09 Yankees but dropped to 2.0 this year for the Tigers.  He still gets on base; maybe the power will return in the right situation.  He's battled back and calf injuries this year.  Damon turns 37 in November.
  • Lance Berkman– He averaged 4.7 WAR from 2007-09, including a monster '08.  The walks remain but Berkman's power plummeted in 2010.  He had knee surgery in March and had fluid drained from it five times before being activated on April 20th.  He also fought groin and ankle injuries.  He'll turn 35 in February.
  • Jose Lopez – He averaged 2.4 WAR from 2008-09, but sits at just 0.2 this year.  The cause, again, is a loss of power.  He missed time with a hamstring injury, but has been mostly healthy this year.  One major change was a move from second to third base.  Lopez figures to reach free agency by way of a declined option and a non-tender.  He'll turn 27 in November, so youth is on his side.
  • Carlos Pena– He averaged over four wins for 2007-09, but stands at just 1.1 this year.  He had surgery a year ago for two broken fingers, and also dealt with a foot injury during the season.  Pena turns 33 in May.  He's also represented by Boras, and is the most likely player here to get a Beltre-like deal.  However, none of these players match Beltre's combination of relative youth and defensive prowess. 


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17 Comments on "Next Year’s Adrian Beltre"


BravesRed
4 years 10 months ago

Personally, I want Braves to re-sign Lee and have Freeman back him up for 2011.

Brandon Woodworth
4 years 10 months ago

You sir, are a mad man.

BravesRed
4 years 10 months ago

Maybe so, but when I am right, everyone will be telling me I was right. I don’t see Freeman being mature enough for the majors.

CowboyJames
4 years 10 months ago

Whether or not Freeman is ready is beside the point…CAN NOT re-sign Derek Lee

4 years 10 months ago

None of these guys, Berkman is old and I really can’t see him help out a team unless he is a DH somewhere, Carlos Pena Avg just makes him a bad hitter while his power is still legit though and needs to be able to get a high avg .220 is just bad, Lee is the only player that had a decent year and still playing well with the glove but I think he .300 days are long gone (power is also dipping as well), Damon is old and lost his stroke as time winds closer to retirement, and finally Jose Lopez maybe still young he just having a down year for the M’s …(M’s wanted to trade Aardsma and Lopez for Sandoval (SFO)

basemonkey
4 years 10 months ago

Pena.He has a GG caliber glove at 1B. And he has had an up and down track record with the bat, but at its peak the offense is top tier. Also he is similarly young at 32 to Beltre’s contract last year who was 31 at the time. That being said, he’s shown a pretty strong pattern of decline, since his breakout year. He hasn’t lost power, but its always come at the expense of contact and very high strikeouts. If we take that into consideration, it’s more likely that Pena’s bat retains its power, but his strikeout totals start making him a liability, unless he can find himself in a stacked lineup like, say, the Yankees who can gaurantee him seeing more than a normal share of fastballs.Damon, Lee, and Berkman are right around the traditional years of offensive decline. If none of them have good offensive years, it would be pretty predictably so. Lopez has never had the kind of bat to put him in the class of being a “Next Year’s Beltre” unless you grade along a curve for his position, which I think defeats the point of such a title.

The_Porcupine
4 years 10 months ago

If I had to take one, I would agree with basemonkey. Based on Pena’s age and good glove, he’ll get a meaningful place in some team’s lineup. The other players listed were either never very good (Lopez), always injury prone and overrated (Lee), or old (Berkman).

04Forever
4 years 10 months ago

Damon, basing it on the fact that he had a down year but not an awful year. The rest of the players will continue to lack because of age or lost power. Pena still hits hard, but whats the point if he does it only 10%, It is what it is for Lee, he just got old and he will probably be a 5th or 6th guy from now on. Lopez had a great year last year and thats about it for him, i dont expect him to repeat that again. Puma could probably come back around but steady decline doesnt really help his case. I pick Damon only because I view him as a person who always gets counted out and that its “over” for him, and he usually proves people wrong with that, the field skills are probably all but gone, but he still gets hits, steals some bags, keeps pitchers looking out of the corner of their eye and can surprise with the occasional home run.

TwinsVet
4 years 10 months ago

“the rest of the players will continue to lack because of age or lost power”…

Damon is the oldest, and has the least power, of the entire group.

04Forever
4 years 10 months ago

yes, but he has more skills then just his power. considering his numbers and age he really isnt all that bad, all Puma and Lee are known for his power which they both look like they are losing. Damon has speed, all around bat, base hitter and a threat to steal. im not saying Damon is going to be an all star, but im pretty sure he will outperform everyone on this list next year

TwinsVet
4 years 10 months ago

None of these names really jump out. What makes Beltre special is not that he’s put together a season that should garner some Top-10 MVP votes. What makes Beltre special is that he’s primed to do it AGAIN for a couple of years.

If Lee/Berkman/Damon have a great season next year, it’ll be seen as a “last hoorah”. Lopez is just a poor baseball player who fooled everyone for one year and shouldn’t even be in the conversation.

Pena wins, but only by default.

IHateJoeBuck
4 years 10 months ago

My vote is for Pena. The last time people thought he was done he came back with .282/.411/.627 and 46 HRs.

Fangaffes
4 years 10 months ago

Small quibble: Beltre’s defense this year, while good, was hardly what you would call stellar.

Sam_Lee
4 years 10 months ago

test

$1742854
4 years 10 months ago

I might throw Felipe Lopez’s name in here, he’s significantly underperformed his career average so he’d be a good high reward signing potentially. Uh, but not for the Twins please :), someone else.

4 years 10 months ago

UZR is terrible for 1st Base. For example, Mark Teixeira supposedly has a -5.4 UZR.

CowboyJames
4 years 10 months ago

and Tex is the best defensive 1B in the game, hands down