by Eno Sarris //
Look at the career statistics for Adrian Beltre, and you might be surprised to see how much money he’s made. After going to Texas and signing his newest five-year, $80 million contract (with a $16 million vesting option), Beltre will have earned close to $200 million (at least) by the time his career ends. And yet right now, his career batting average is a mere .275 and he’s averaged about 23 home runs per full year.
The truth is, he’s probably been worth the money (if not high fantasy picks most seasons) for two reasons: his glove and the offense-suppressing ballparks that have made his numbers look worse than they’d be most elsewhere. R.J. Anderson will take a look at the value of Beltre’s excellent glove later this week. For now, let’s take a look at Beltre and his relationship to his home parks over his career.
Beltre didn’t like hitting in Safeco field. He’s a right-handed pull hitter and the park factor for home runs by a right-hander in that park is just 84 (100 is average). That kept him to a .253/.307/.409 line in 363 games in Seattle – 1406 at-bats that helped suppress his overall value in fantasy leagues. That modest work came after 489 games and a .253/.316/.423 line in spacious Dodger Stadium (which had a 92 park factor for right-handed home runs last year).
What happens to his overall numbers when you take out those 3076 at-bats? Away from Safeco and Dodger Stadium, Beltre has hit .293 with 26 home runs per 600 at-bats. And, as he showed with his .325 batting average and 28 home runs in Fenway, Beltre can be even better if given an extra boost by his home park.
Fenway had a 95 park factor for right-handed home runs – and a 130 park factor for right-handed doubles. That helped Beltre put together his second-best batting average and clear his previous high in doubles by eight in a great year for the Red Sox. His new stadium in Arlington has a 105 park factor for right-handed home runs (105 for doubles), and Beltre will surely enjoy calling such a park home.
The .331 batting average on balls in play in 2010, in the face of his career .294 BABIP, probably means that his batting average will fall in 2011. His new park won’t allow him to pepper the Green Monster with doubles any more. But while the batting average falls, the power might surge. A home park that is 10% friendlier for home runs will help his case.
Bill James projects a .283 batting average and 24 home runs for Beltre in 2011. Up the home run total since his new home stadium is now determined, and that looks about right. Take Beltre in the early rounds of your draft (especially given the position scarcity at third base) and profit off owners that put too much credence in his overall career numbers.