It turns out that the Houston Astros’ World Series championship will serve as a coda to Carlos Beltran’s career. The talented outfielder, who played 20 big league seasons, announced his retirement today in a post on The Player’s Tribune. Beltran played for seven teams, including the New York Mets, who signed him as a free agent prior to the 2005 season. While most Mets’ fans (foolishly) never forgave Beltran for staring at strike three in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS, the fact remains that he was an incredibly productive player for them, batting .280 with 149 home runs, 559 RBI’s, and 100 stolen bases in six and a half years.
Overall, Beltran put up outstanding numbers in his career, batting .279 with 435 home runs and 1,587 RBI’s while stealing 312 bases. Those numbers should get Beltran into the Hall of Fame, and there is a good chance he goes in as a Met. Beltran played the longest portion of his career with the Mets and Royals, but Kansas City never contended while Beltran was on the team. The Astros are an intriguing dark horse candidate for Beltran since he propelled them to the World Series in 2004 and returned to help contribute to the franchise’s first championship campaign this season. Beltran did, however, produce his best numbers with the Mets and helped them put together three strong seasons from 2006-2008. It isn’t fair to lay the Mets’ failure in the 2006 postseason and the team’s collapses in 2007 and 2008 at Beltran’s feet, which many fans tend to do, since he was nothing but a professional in orange and blue.
There is also the perception that the Mets were Beltran’s second choice, given reports around his signing that he called the Yankees to offer them a discount prior to agreeing to a deal. Some Mets’ fans have never let that perceived slight go, but the fact remains that Beltran is probably the best center fielder the franchise ever had. Beltran was always underappreciated in Queens, with fans gravitating more to home grown stars like David Wright and Jose Reyes, but hopefully in retirement Mets’ fans can grow to give Beltran the credit he deserves for his strong play in Flushing.