Over the past six or so seasons few players have been as misunderstood as Adrian Beltre. The big contract he earned after the 2004 season in which he hit 48 home runs has clouded people’s opinion of him. Is he ever going to show that much power again? Probably not, but the 28 home runs and .233 ISO he put up last year show what he is capable of when he escapes Seattle. If you ignore his 2009 season in which he hit only 11 dingers, Beltre averaged nearly 24 home runs in the Emerald City. That number isn’t far off his 28 last season in hitter friendly Boston, but it came with a far inferior averge ISO of .188. The higher the ISO the better the opportunity for extra base hits. Safeco Field consistently ranks as one of the toughest parks in the majors for hitters, stifling right handed power like the Florida sun. Fenway Park is the polar opposite; a great hitters’ park that is the primary reason Jim Rice is in the Hall of Fame.
As good as Fenway was to Beltre, he’ll be spending the next five years of his life in an even better location: The Ballpark at Arlington. The .321 average Beltre posted last season should fall a bit since it’s unlikely he’ll maintain a .331 BABIP. However, the power numbers are real, and I’d expect him to run a bit more with the Rangers (123 SB last year, 68 for Boston) and increase his steals from 2 back into the 10-12 range. If you believe Beltre is only going to hit well in a contract year, then nothing I say is going to change your mind. For those of us who believe, and we do here at RotoGraphs if you check out our position rankings, the 2011 season should be good to Beltre.
Another third baseman on the move is strikeout king Mark Reynolds, leaving the hitter haven that is Chase Field for the beauty of Camden Yards. Baltimore is also a very good hitters park, so nothing substantial will be gained or lost in that department. Reynolds presents a conundrum for fantasy owners. His strikeout totals are astronomical, yet his power numbers are extremely coveted. Even in a year in which he hit .198 he somehow managed to smack 32 dongers in less than 600 at bats. The drop in batting average is due to a BABIP of .257, which is just a tad below his career average of .346. Reynolds’s FB percentage rose to a staggering 54.9% last season, seven percent higher than the previous year. The increase in fly balls means a drop in line drives and groundballs, resulting in far more outs and substantially less power – he dropped 50 points in ISO from 2009. He’ll be surrounded by a better set of teammates in Baltimore, taking the offensive pressure off of his back and creating more RBI opportunities than he had in Arizona. Cutting down on the fly balls will be the key to his continued fantasy revelance.
Erik writes for DraysBay and has also written for Bloomberg Sports. Follow him on Twitter @ehahmann.