The other day Ron Darling said Carlos Beltran is “the best all-around outfielder in Mets history.” Gary Cohen responded with one word — “Unequivocally.”
I don’t know about that.
You can definitely make a convincing argument that Beltran is indeed the best outfielder in the team’s history, and you wouldn’t be crazy to believe it. But I don’t think it is “unequivocal,” not when there was a guy named Darryl Strawberry in that history.
Let’s take a look at the raw numbers — through Friday’s game, in Beltran’s seven years with the Mets he has hit .280 with 149 home runs and 555 RBIs. In Strawberry’s eight years he hit .263 with 252 homers and 733 RBIs. The last two stats are team records. Granted, Strawberry played in 1109 games and Beltran 835 due in part of Beltran’s injuries, but that is all part of the argument.
But how about on-base percentage, slugging and OPS, so allegedly important in today’s stats-obsessed game? Well, Beltran has a .368 OBP and .501 SLG for an .869 OPS. Strawberry’s was .359 OPB and .520 SLG — an OPS of .878.
For all his vaunted speed, Beltran has stolen just 100 bases for the Mets. Strawberry had 191.
Looking at individual years, Beltran had just four outstanding seasons with the Mets (including this season). His first year was simply awful, and the last two were injury-plagued. He made five All-Star teams, and finished fourth, 20th and 21st in years in which he got MVP votes. All but one of Strawberry’s eight years were solid, but even in that season (1989) he managed to hit 29 homers. He was an All-Star seven times. He finished second, third and sixth in MVP voting.
Defensively, Strawberry cannot match Beltran — not many outfielders can. Beltran won three Gold Gloves to Strawberry’s zero. But Straw was not slouch in the outfield. He had a cannon for an arm, and I don’t remember him being a liability in the field.
I obviously would vote for Strawberry over Beltran in the race for best Mets outfielder, but I can completely understand why somebody would choose Beltran. I wouldn’t argue — I just wouldn’t agree. I just think it is an overstatement to say the battle is “unequivocal.”