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Carlos Beltran and his history of Phillies-smashing

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The career of a long-time National League foe finally comes to an end.

Philadelphia Phillies v New York Mets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

As 2011 hit the trade deadline, teams who woke up in contention scrambled to outspend and outthink each other to shore up their rosters for a white knuckle stretch run. Coming off 2010, when the Giants had plucked Cody Ross off waivers, undoubtedly aware of the untapped power pulsating within him, the idea of picking up a key difference-maker in the latter half of the season had massive appeal. Once more, the Phillies and Giants were considered top tier National League playoff representatives. Both in need of big outfield bats, they glared at each other from across the country as they formed and executed the acquisitions they’d hoped would result in the others’ humiliation.

The names available out in the wild were Hunter Pence, the Astros outfielder generating 3.3 WAR for a last place team and hitting .308 with 11 HR in Minute Maid Park; Michael Bourn, Houston’s speedy lead-off hitter capable of always providing an extra base; and Carlos Beltran, a veteran Met having another dangerous season at the plate for whom New York was willing to throw in contract relief to any trade partners.

Earlier in the season, the defending champion Giants had watched, horrified, as Buster Posey had gone down with a horrific injury following his infamous home plate collision with the Marlins’ Scott Cousins. They needed to find a bat capable of filling the gaping hole in their offense left by Posey’s absence. The Phillies wanted a corner outfielder to solidify the crater left by Jayson Werth’s departure in free agency; by mid-season, it had become sadly clear that Ben Francisco was not going to be a thing.

Rumors swirled around both teams as they “checked on” and “pursued” players to varying degrees until finally, they each made their moves: the Phillies pushed their minor league trading chips to Houston for Pence, who still had a year of team control ahead of him, and the Giants sent Zack Wheeler to the Mets for Beltran, who would be a free agent at the end of the year. Neither team won the World Series, and both players were no longer with their new clubs by the following August.

This was probably the closest Carlos Beltran ever came to being on the Phillies (some were forced to wonder “what if?”), and given his career prior to this point as a Mets slugger continuously haunting their pitchers and occasionally colliding with their walls, it was a worth it to consider his acquisition. The Phillies saw less of Beltran once he left their division rival, but he found homes with teams that have irksome memories lodged in the brains of anyone who was watching the Phillies at that time: the Giants, Cardinals, and Yankees; and eventually, the Rangers and Astros as well, with whom Beltran just won a World Series before announcing his retirement on Monday.

But because he never played for the Phillies, there is a frightening record of his numbers against them, which are these:

  • vs. Phillies: .266/.328/.512, 30 HR, 144 H, 113 SO (in all cases, most against any one team)
  • at Citizens Bank Park: .289/.364/.516, 14 HR (most of any park of a team he did not play for)
  • in September 2007 as Mets crumbled around him: .282/.328/.555, 8 HR, 5-for-5 in SB

Grab from any random patch of Mets success in his time with them, and you’ll find paragraphs like this, from a New York Post story with the headline, “CARLOS BELTS PHILLIES AGAIN:”

Beltran smacked a go-ahead two-run homer in the fifth while batting righty, slammed a solo insurance homer in the seventh while hitting lefty and made a spectacular catch in center in the third to rob Jimmy Rollins.

His lifetime numbers against the pitchers of the Phillies’ vaunted 2011 rotation are equally troubling.

  • vs. Roy Halladay: .327/.358/.592 in 49 AB
  • vs. Roy Oswalt: .375/.417/.531 in 32 AB
  • vs. Joe Blanton: .375/.423/.417 in 24 AB

He could not, throughout his career, best every hurler in the Phillies’ revered arsenal, however:

  • vs. Cliff Lee: .227/.292/.455 in 22 AB
  • vs. Cole Hamels: .240/.269/.460 in 50 AB

The fact is, Beltran is a nine-time All-Star who appeared in seven post seasons with five different teams—bookending the Phillies’ latest post season success by appearing in the 2006 playoffs and then not again until 2012 (This is often referred to as “Lieberthal-ing”). Along with names like Jose Reyes and David Wright, Beltran helped stir and maintain the all too brief height of the Phillies-Mets rivalry in 2007-08, and his departure as one of the sport’s best is likely a relief to anyone who ever had to face him.