First of all, I am a Mets fan, which is why I am extremely happy with the Beltran signing. I think that he, along with the young combo of Wright-Reyes can bring some success to the Mets again. Maybe Piazza has one more “productive” year left, maybe Kaz “turns” it around, maybe Floyd plays more than 140 games, and maybe Cameron decides to stay and play some defense. Anyways, back to my point.
I don’t think Beltran will bat over .300 this year. First, Beltran himself. He is a .284 career hitter. Last year, with a hitters ballpark as his home stadium for 90 games he batted .258. He’s batted over .300 only twice in seven years (.306 and .307). I went onto mets.com and looked at the career batting average leaders in Mets history (I think I did that right) and exactly two players have averages, as a Met of course, of over .300 – John Olerud and Mike Piazza. Olerud did it once (close twice) in three years. In six full seasons, Piazza has done it three times, and did it one more time in 109 games after being traded from LA to FLA to NYM. Now, the three times he hit below .300 was his last three years, and he is clearly on the down side of his career. But, remember, he is probably considered, arguably, to be the best hitting Catcher of all time. In my mind, the numbers work against Beltran being at Shea. Anyone who has ever experience watching players come to NY… its not a hitters ball park, at all. Enough can't be said about that.
I don’t think Beltran will hit over 30 homeruns this year. Back to history… Strawberry is the career leader in HR for a Met as a Met… he’s never hit 40 HR in a season. Piazza did it once. HoJo came close, three times, but never made it. Dave Kingman is one of the only players, non-active, with over 400 career HR, and in six seasons, has never hit 40 as a Met (came close, but no cigar). Beltran is hitting his "prime" if you want to call it that, but I can't imagine him hitting too many HR in that park.
I do, however, believe that he will score over 100 Runs (closer to 110 if Wright has a solid year and closer to 120 if Delgado signs or if Piazza/Floyd squeeze out a good year), and I do think that he will knock in over 100 RBI (closer to 110 or even 120 if we see the Reyes-Kaz combo develop into the lethal combo that they should become).
Finally, I think he should get 20 to 30 steals. If he does in fact hit in the third spot, his “primary” job will be to drive in Reyes and Kaz, and stay on base for Piazza/Wright/Floyd/Delgado(?). With Reyes and Kaz taking the brunt of the running risks, he may not be called upon to run as much as he has in the past (I don’t think he’ll be going for 35+ steals). However, that all changes if he bats first or second (Kaz slumps or Reyes gets hurt). Then, he could go for 35 to 40 steals, and clearly has the ability to do so.
Want my prediction for Beltran? I would say 110 R, 30 HR, 110 RBI, 30 SB, .285 AVG. For Vlad, who I wish the Mets would have gotten a few years back? 110 R, 35 HR, 120 RBI, 10 SB, .330 AVG. So, overall, I would have to give my pick to Vlad.