This is the same Adrian Beltre that before 2010 (and discounting that ridiculous 2004 campaign) was consistently hitting between 20 and 25 home runs with a very modest average (.265), mediocre on base skills (.315), and limited ability on the base paths. His type of numbers – 75 runs scored, 22 home runs, 85 runs batted in, five stolen bases, .265 average numbers much more closely resemble what many are penciling in for Edwin Encarnacion this season, who is available about 200 picks later. Now, we’re not saying Beltre’s going to regress to that territory again – we don’t think he will – but he’s closer to that hitter than the one he’s been the last two seasons.
Moving to Arlington last year agreed with Beltre, and he met the expectations of a lot of fantasy publications that had him pegged as a sleeper for 2011 putting up a .296 average, 32 home runs, 105 runs batted in and 82 runs scored. His home and away splits tell the story that you need know … on base percentage (.451 home, .317 away), home run/fly ball rate (24 percent at home, 9 percent away). Simply put, those home park numbers aren’t sustainable. He has adjusted his approach to be more of a fly ball hitter, which works well in Arlington, and while that may allow him to maintain the power numbers, his average will inevitably suffer, eventually. He’s just not the .300-plus hitter he’s shown the last two seasons.
Beltre’s average draft position is in the early 30s, putting him mid-Round 3, so fantasy owner expectations are high for 2012. They’re going to be disappointed because he’s due for a reality check this year. Like a fine wine, Beltre has matured as a hitter as he has aged, but at age ‘33’ (we use that age loosely) the power is going to start to fade sooner rather than later. There are better risks to take that early and, contrary to what most want you to believe, third base is actually getting deeper (despite David Wright’s injury) this year.