The Belt Brothers

by Steve Barry

October 19, 2005

 

Wanna see something weird?

 

In 1998, 21 year old Carlos Beltran and 19 year old Adrian Beltre made their Major League debuts. The following year, each player played a full season, and the two have been full-timers in the league ever since.

 

Going into 2004, each player had experienced mixed results at the Major League level. Beltre had a solid 1999, and a better, but injury shortened, season, but then began a 3 year slide in which his average and on base percentage plummeted while his strikeouts steadily increased. In 2003, he was legitimately bad, putting up a .290 on base percentage to go with his 103 strikeouts and only 27 walks.

 

Beltran had more success, but also more problems with injuries. When healthy, Beltran regularly registered 100 runs and RBIs, and managed to keep his OPS in the 800 to 900 range. 2003 would have been his finest year if not for the fact the he missed 20 games due to injury. In 2003, he registered career highs in stolen bases, average, on base percentage, and slugging, just missed going 30/30.

 

2004 was a watershed for both players. Beltran, who became one of those "overratedly underrated players" whom everyone under the sun refers to as "the most underrated player in the game," received a trade from cellar dwelling Kansas City and ended up in a playoff run with the Astros. He narrowly missed going 40/40 while setting career highs in homeruns, stolen bases, walks, runs, slugging, and OPS. Remarkably, he managed to steal 42 out of 45 bases. Carlos Beltan truly arrived in 2004.

 

If 2004 marked the arrival of Beltran, it marked the launch into orbit of Adrian Beltre. Just one year earlier, Beltre seemed washed up at the age of 24. But he exploded in 2004, more than doubling his career high in home runs, with 48, while scoring 100 runs and driving in 100 RBI for the first time in his career. Further, he finished with 200 hits, set a career high in double and total bases, and raised his average an astonishing 94 points. Equally astonishing was the fact that his OPS went up by more than 300 points! Beltre was simply a different player in 2004. At the age of 25, he seemed ready to join the elite of the Major Leagues.

 

A curious thing happened to the Belt Brothers in 2005. Each of them signed big free agent contracts, and left their teams for seemingly greener pastures. But, somewhat inexplicably, both Belt Brothers were terrible in their new uniforms. Beltre proved to be an apparent one year wonder returning to his form of old with over 100 strikeouts, a .303 OBP, and only 19 home runs in 156 games. The lone upside was that Beltre set a career high in doubles, but the rest of his game was terrible.

 

Beltran's immediate post-free agency decline was a little more unexpected. 2005 marked the first time in his career that he played a full season and failed to scored 100 runs, drive in 100 RBIs, hit 20 home runs, have a slugging percentage over .450, steal 25 bases, hit seven triples, or achieve at least 250 total bases. A year after on getting caught 3 times in 45 tries, Beltran got caught stealing 6 times in 23 attempts.

 

As a further indication of Beltran's cursed season, he nearly killed Mike Cameron in a collision which broke bones in Cameron's face and ended Cameron's season a couple of months early. Ironically, Beltran's arrival booted Mike Cameron, the far superior fielder, out of the center field position.

 

So, what is the point of all this? What's in a name, right? Nothing can really be gleaned from this, or predicted, and how these players will do next season is anyone's guess. But it is an odd coincidence, dontcha think?