Carlos Beltran, at age 34, is having an exceptionally sensational 2011 season. The switch-hitter has posted a .290/.387/.524 line with 15 homeruns, (league-leading) 30 doubles, 2 triples, 61 RBI, 56 runs, and 3 stolen bases to-date. Unlike other “elderly” hitters, Beltran can still play the field, as proven by his respectable 0.2 UZR/150. But this all really shouldn’t surprise people. From 2001 to 2008, Beltran was one of the most elite outfielders in baseball. He owned a .282/.363/.513 line with 234 homeruns, 828 RBI, 862 runs, and 232 stolen bases. Despite his recent injury history, Beltran collected an averaged of 665 plate appearances per season during that span. The hitter also enjoyed a particularly successful 2006 season, where he posted a .275/.388/.594 line with 41 homeruns, 116 RBI, 127 runs, and 18 stolen bases. It was good enough to finish fourth in the MVP voting.
However, a knee injury he endured early in 2009 only worsened by season’s end, leading to a controversial surgery, which Mets ownership initially claimed was “not approved.” His injury-plagued 2009 and 2010 didn’t bode well for his 2011 production. But Mets fans had forgotten what a healthy Carlos Beltran was capable of. While all eyes have been focused on what the Mets will receive around the deadline for Beltran’s services, one has to wonder–assuming the slugger were to continue his torrid season–what kind of contract he’ll be in-line for come free agency. Below are five veteran players, who like Beltran, enjoyed reconnaissance seasons prior to free agency. Continue reading