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With free agents hitting the market and the hot stove soon to be heating up (get it?), many fantasy owners might already be getting a head start in prepping for the 2009 season. I can personally say that one of the biggest factors that I look at is a player in a contract year. Yes I know that other things like a player’s supporting cast, home ball park, and other things tend to be more important factors but, seriously, we all know that nothing motivates somebody like money.
The crop of players hitting free agency after the 2009 season include such names as: Carlos Delgado, Adam LaRoche, Miguel Tejada, Brian Roberts, Chipper Jones, Chone Figgins, Jason Bay, Matt Holliday, Jermaine Dye, Vladimir Guerrero, Aubrey Huff, John Lackey, Rich Harden, and Erik Bedard.
Wow, now that is one hell of a free agent class, and I haven’t even mentioned players with club options that can opt out of their contract (such as Victor Martinez, Cliff Lee, and Carl Crawford for example). However, the focus of my 2009 draft this Spring will be centered on one man. Now, call me crazy but, I know I am a genius on this one. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…
Wait, what? Why? It is no secret that I do not endorse Adrian Beltre. After all, he did kill “Corey Dillon” (really bad reference to an even worse inside joke). I have made note of my opinion of the third baseman since my inception here at SoB. When you mention a man in your personal bio, then you know you have a vendetta.
My beef with Beltre has been the fact that he was just an average or even mediocre player until his contract year in 2004. In 2004, he had 48 HR, 121 RBI, and hit .334. This includes the only time in his career where he has reached 200 hits and 100 runs scored. Those numbers were an astronomical leap from his previous efforts. His previous highs in any of those categories were: 23 HR (2003), 85 RBI (2000), and .290 avg (2000). So are we supposed to believe that after six years he just decides to start hitting? The man was playing for big bucks which he then got when he signed a 5-year/$64 million deal with the Seattle Mariners in the December of 2004.
Since playing for the Mariners, Beltre has gone back to his old ways. His highest total from his four years in Seattle are: 26 HR, 99 RBI, and .276 avg (all from 2007). Now Beltre is entering his fifth and final season as a Mariner. I know it is hard to go with me on what seems such a stupid idea but, just do it anyway.
Adrian Beltre is in store for a huge season. I have been calling this since he signed with Seattle and have frankly not shut the hell up about it since then. But, if you want some sort of statistical evidence to ease your mind then fine.
If you are worried about Beltre playing in the more pitcher friendly SAFECO field then remember that he played for the Dodgers in 2004 and Dodger Stadium is better know as a pitcher’s park than a hitter-friendly environment. In fact, he hit more home runs at Dodger Stadium in 2004 (23) than he did in his entire first season in Seattle (19).
Secondly, if the idea of no supporting cast scares you then look at the rest of the 2004 Dodgers. While it is no secret that Beltre lead his team in every offensive category (besides stolen bases), the rest of the team didn’t exactly set the world on fire. Beltre was the only member of the team that topped 30 HR and was the only player who reached 100 RBI. The next closest in HR and RBI was Shawn Green with 28 HR and 86 RBI. In addition, the only other player on the 2004 Dodgers to hit over .300 was catcher Paul LoDuca. Simply put, Beltre is capable of carrying himself on offense.
I know in the past I have come down hard on people for drafting Adrian Beltre too early. That was last season though. It wasn’t his contract year. Now we are approaching the 2009 season and now is the time to draft Adrian Beltre with total confidence. Don’t think about it too much, just do it!
…just not in Round 2.