Carlos Beltran wasn’t a good player for the Cardinals in the second half this season.
In fact, he was quite bad.
Yes, he managed to hit 12 home runs after the break, but after hitting a blistering .296/.382/.542 with 20 longballs and 65 RBI in the first half, he stumbled to a .236/.302/.440 line with 32 RBI in the second half.
He did close out the regular season by batting .345/.455/.564 with three home runs over his final 17 games, so perhaps he was just heating up at the right time and we should have seen this coming. Or, perhaps we just need to accept the fact that this is what Beltran does during the postseason.
Beltran launched a two-run homer in Sunday’s NLCS Game 1 victory over the Giants, giving the Cardinals what turned out to be the two runs they needed to win. In seven contests this postseason, Beltran is batting .385/.469/.846 with three home runs, three doubles and six RBI.
In 29 career postseason games and 133 plate appearances, he’s hitting an astounding .370/.481/.824 with 14 home runs. Only Albert Pujols has more playoff longballs among National Leaguers, and Pujols has accumulated 188 more postseason plate appearances than Beltran. His slugging percentage and OPS are the best marks in postseason history, and it’s not close.
He’s got to cool off at some point, right? Then again, it’s the postseason and this is what Beltran does during the postseason.
Yanks’ Bats Gone Cold
Yankees manager Joe Girardi did his best to give the team’s struggling offense a jolt by shaking up his lineup for Sunday’s ALCS Game 2 against the Tigers. It didn’t work.
With Jayson Nix in at shortstop in place of the injured Derek Jeter and everyone else in a different spot in the lineup than they’re used to, the Yankees were shut out on just four hits by Anibal Sanchez and Phil Coke. Mark Teixeira’s first-inning double was the only extra-base hit the Yanks had all day.
The Yankees scored four runs on a pair of two-run homers off struggling Tigers closer Jose Valverde in Saturday’s Game 1, but in the 20 1/3 innings this series where Valverde wasn’t pitching, they haven’t notched a single tally.
The offensive struggles for the Bombers didn’t begin in the ALCS, though. They managed to defeat the Orioles in the ALDS despite scoring more than three runs in just one of the five games. Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher and Russell Martin are all hitting under .200 this postseason, and the group has combined for just six extra-base hits over 146 plate appearances.
It won’t get any easier. The Yanks will try to snap out of their funk Tuesday against Justin Verlander.
Jeter Likely To Need Surgery
It certainly doesn’t help the Yankees’ odds of rebounding offensively when they’ll have to do it without their captain. And not only will a fractured left ankle keep Derek Jeter out for the remainder of the postseason, but there’s a chance it could cut into the 2013 campaign.
The initial MRI on Jeter’s ankle didn’t reveal extensive ligament damage in addition to the fracture, but the feeling is that the shortstop will still probably need surgery. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman has reported that if an operation is required, Jeter “may not be ready for spring training and could even miss the start of next season.” Heyman adds, though, that the Yankees “haven't suggested that is a likelihood."
So, while it’s probably reasonable to expect Jeter to be ready to go at the start of next season, we can’t hide the fact that he’ll turn 39 before the All-Star break. Jeter’s defense has already faded mightily over the last few years, and the defense of an aging shortstop coming off ankle surgery isn’t going to go anywhere but downhill. The future Hall of Famer started a career-high 25 games in the DH spot this season, and that number seems likely to grow in 2013.
National League Quick Hits: As expected, Dusty Baker will return to manage the Reds next season, as he signed a two-year extension with the club on Monday. Baker has led the Reds to two NL Central division titles in the last three years, though he’s won just two playoff games in five years with the club ... Madison Bumgarner was clubbed for six runs over just 3 2/3 innings in Sunday’s NLCS Game 1 loss to the Cardinals. The lefty has now allowed 10 runs in two playoff starts after struggling down the stretch in the regular season ... The Brewers are expected to non-tender Nyjer Morgan this offseason. It’s no surprise after Morgan batted just .239/.302/.308 this year while making $2.35 million ... The Cubs could put Matt Garza on the trade block once he’s over his elbow injury. Chicago has displayed interest in signing the righty to an extension, but they might determine that it would be better for the rebuilding project to pick up a package of prospects for him instead ... The Padres could move Logan Forsythe to shortstop next season, giving prospect Jedd Gyorko a shot at second base.
American League Quick Hits: Phil Coke notched a two-inning save for the Tigers in Sunday’s ALCS Game 2 victory. The Tigers are going with a committee approach in the ninth inning for now with Jose Valverde’s struggles, and Coke was allowed to pitch the final two frames with the Yankees having mostly lefty or switch-hitters coming up ... Anibal Sanchez tossed seven shutout frames ahead of Coke, striking out seven in the process. The former Marlin has now allowed just two runs over 13 1/3 innings in his two postseason outings ... Jason Isringhausen is expected to retire this offseason. The veteran right-hander posted a 4.14 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in 50 appearances this year for the Angels but has recorded 300 saves over 16 seasons ... The Twins will monitor pitching prospect Kyle Gibson’s innings next season. Gibson has looked impressive since coming back from Tommy John surgery and could crack the big league rotation at some point in 2013.