Who’s the most complete player in baseball? According to baseball writer Dave Fleming, he’s the only guy of the 2008 season who batted above .275, hit for power, drew at least 60-70 walks a year, stole more than 20 bases (and was successful at least 75 percent of the time), was a good fielder at a key defensive position (defined as shortstop, second base, centerfielder, catcher), hit well in the clutch, was durable enough to play 150 games a year …
Well, not to keep you in suspense, the answer is Carlos Beltran, the man Fleming regards as the forgotten superstar and, as Fleming notes, had a remarkable season last year, “and no one noticed, not a soul.”
Not one of the 32 writes who voted for the NL MVP last year thought Beltran was one of the top ten players in the league – this despite the fact that Beltran “beat Ryan Howard in every single statistical category except home runs. On top of that, Beltran was a Gold Glove centerfielder, and an elite base stealer, and Beltran was a better clutch hitter.” In other words, Fleming argues, Beltran was the true MVP in the national League last year.
Fleming’s essay is a remarkable piece of analysis that points out something that should have been obvious to all of us: not only how good Beltran was last year but how good he has been over his entire career. You can’t read his essay for free, but if you join Bill James Online, and click on “Other Columnists,” you can pull up “The Forgotten Superstar.” Trust us, there’s enough good stuff by Bill James and friends, particularly on the Mets and Yankees to more than justify the $3/month cost.