Sunday, May 31, 2015

Will The Real Carlos Beltran Please Stand Up?

During Carlos Beltran's big game last night, in which he gave the Yankees the lead with a two-run home run in the 6th inning, and then extended that lead with an RBI single in the 8th, there was some talk about his big May. While Carlos had a poor .162 batting average in April, he raised that number way up to .308 in May. Not only has his batting average gone way up, but after going homerless last month, Beltran has hit four bombs in May.

I couldn't stop myself from replying to a couple of people on Twitter, pointing out that while Beltran has a nice batting average this month, his on-base percentage of .319 isn't. And after reading more on his possible resurgence today, I decided to look deeper into the numbers. As somebody that wouldn't mind seeing the Yankees DFA Carlos and eat the remaining money on his contract, which includes $15 million for next season, I was looking for proof that he does indeed stink. What I found was surprising.

"I suppose I could just turn up the screen resolution, but this magnifying glass works too."

The first thing I found was that while Carlos ran into some bad luck when it came to his batting average on balls in play (BABIP) in April, things in that department have normalized in May. Last month his BABIP was a very low .229, but so far in May that stat is right around a players normal mark at .312.

Second, I found that his line drive percentage has jumped quite a bit as well. While is career line drive percentage sits at 21%, that number was down all the way to 14.6% in April. Well, his LD% has also normalized and sits at 25.9% in May. Mind you, that's a little higher than his career number, but it's closer now than it was in April.

The third positive I found while looking at Carlos' stats is that he's not striking out nearly as often. In April he struck out in 28.4% of his at bats, but has cut that down to just 11.7% in May. Again, that strikeout rate is lower than he's seen throughout his career (16.1%), but it's actually much closer than what we saw in his sad month of April.

Finally, and what could be the root of his issue in April, and the reason for his rebound in May, is that he's swinging at fewer pitches outside the strike zone, and swinging at more pitches in the strike zone. It doesn't take a baseball genius to know that if you swing at more good pitches (aka "strikes") than bad pitches (aka "balls"), there's a better chance for success.

In fact, the only negative I found while digging around Beltran's Fangraphs and Baseball Reference pages is that he's not walking much. However, I'm not overly concerned about that, as he wasn't brought to New York because of his ability to draw walks. Nor do the Yankees really need that out of him. No, they need him to drive in runs, and over the past 30 days he's done just that.

I tell you, that is not the result I expected when I started this article. Like I said in the beginning, I would have liked to see the Yankees cut Beltran, but after seeing the numbers I'm looking forward to what happens in June.

"Relax, I got this."

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)