Of the many things that struck me this weekend in the series against the Yankees, it was how many Mets fans felt the necessity to boo Carlos Beltran. Granted, he was a thorn in the side of the Mets during this series, but why would anyone at that stadium boo him? He has been resurgent for the Yankees lately and he was the greatest center fielder in Mets history, the greatest free agent signing in Mets history, and probably the next best outfielder to Darryl Strawberry.
Over his 6 1/2 seasons with the Mets, Beltran hit 149 home runs, the 2nd most for an outfielder in Mets history (to Strawberry). His 29.4 fWAR ranks first out of Mets center fielders by a long shot – Mookie Wilson is second at 17.4. His 29.4 fWAR also ranks fourth out of all batters in Mets history, behind only David Wright, Darryl Strawberry, and Jose Reyes (Edgardo Alfonzo and Mike Piazza are close behind; Piazza was not nearly the defender or baserunner Beltran was). Beltran is 6th on the Mets’ all-time home runs list, 11th on the steals list, 8th in runs scored, 6th in runs batted in, 8th in OBP, 5th in SLG, and 6th in wRC+ (minimum 600 PA). Through Jay Jaffe’s JAWS system, Beltran scores at 56.3 (average HOF center fielder is 57.2). This gives Beltran a decent shot at making the Hall of Fame, and if inducted, it is certainly possible he will enter as a Met, the team he played longest with.
So why do fans feel the need to boo a man who may be their third inducted hall of famer (after Piazza is inducted)? The answer obviously lies with one pitch, the curveball from Adam Wainwright that Carlos Beltran took in game 7 of the 2006 NLCS for a called strike 3, leaving the bases loaded and the tying run at 2nd base. Mets fans have never been able to forgive Beltran for that one moment (despite his .413 wOBA in the 2006 playoffs, with 3 home runs in 45 plate appearances). Hence, a perrennial all-star and possible Hall of Famer is remembered for just that one moment.
This makes me angry because it defies reason. After all, David Wright had a .295 wOBA and Jose Reyes a .289 wOBA in the playoffs that season, but never in a million years would you hear a Mets fan boo them. Mets fans are notoriously nervous and harsh fans (Mets fans are a joke to the MLB community at large, who see the 6 game lead with 13 to go and wonder why we’re remotely worried). Mets fans are quicker to turn on their own than most fanbases, but they are also some of the most passionate fans in baseball. It hurts to see fanss boo Beltran, especially when only Alex Rodriguez heard it worse. Even colossal bust Chris Young got a better reception than Beltran. This is why Mets fans are a joke across baseball.
Calm down, folks. I shouldn’t be surprised though. After all, this is the fanbase that booed Ruben Tejada and trainer Ray Ramirez at opening day this season. Mets fans don’t forget, but they often don’t remember too well either. Ramirez is remembered for the horrendous 2009 injury season, while Tejada is remembered for a terrible 2012 campaign and for not being Jose Reyes. Both have been much better since – the Mets’ injuries and Tejada’s play, but it’s too late for some fans. Fortunately, Tejada’s 2015 play has mostly silenced his harshest critics, but he will always have an unfair stain on his Mets record. The damage has been done. Both Tejada’s and Ramirez’s treatments are ridiculously unfair, just as Beltran’s treatment was this weekend.
It would be nice to hear the Mets fans cheer their own players, especially one of the best in their entire history. Beltran deserves much better. Perhaps fans will realize when he decines to wear a Mets hat on his Hall of Fame cap.