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Go Bold or Go Home: Carlos Beltran, Top-10 OF

When you hear the name Carlos Beltran, you may not think of him as a future Hall of Famer. In reality, however, the veteran outfielder is already 90th among position players in career WAR and may very well approach the top 50 with three good years in New York. At that point, he'd be a shoe-in for Cooperstown based purely on the numbers. I'm not exactly sure why, but Beltran seems to have flown under the radar in what has been a very productive career.

In fact, from a fantasy perspective Beltran has been even more impressive over the course of his career. Believe it or not, he's finished as a top-15 player five times; for the sake of reference, only Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, and Carl Crawford have accomplished the feat more often among active players. It's a daunting task to find consistency in this Roto game that we play, but Beltran has been able to produce at a high level more often than not. As a matter of fact, only A-Rod, Jeter, and Pujols have accrued more fantasy dollars than Beltran among active players.

Entering his age-37 season, Beltran is certainly past his prime. That being said, I can't really think of many circumstances that would be more favorable than those in which he'll play next season. Let's start with the ballpark. In making the move from St. Louis to New York, the outfielder goes from one of the worst environments for HR to one of the best. Given that he does most of his damage hitting left-handed, Beltran should witness a boost in power with the short porch in right field.

Also, let's not discount how much a veteran player benefits from the move to the American League. The Yankees will use the DH as a way to rest players, and one would expect Manager Joe Girardi to pencil Beltran into that slot as often as anyone else on the roster. On that note, it's interesting that Beltran seems to have developed a stigma that he's injury-prone when, in all actuality, it's not exactly the case. Sure, he seems to require his fair share of days off each season, but the truth is he's played at least 140 games every year but two since 2001. Perhaps it's the fact that when he did miss significant portions of 2009 and 2010 due to right knee surgery, he just happened to be playing for the Mets. Since then, Beltran has averaged more than 600 plate appearances over the past three years. I'd project right around that many in 2014, and he certainly could exceed that total with the luxury of the DH.

Here's how the projections systems think Beltran will perform in the five Roto categories this year:

Steamer: 68 / 21 / 68 / 4 / .277

Oliver: 75 / 23 / 75 / 3 / .279

Assuming 600 plate appearances, I'd take the over on each and every category. I still think park factors are one of the most underappreciated elements of this game, and I'm quite confident Beltran can approach 30 HR while hitting around .290. I also expect the Yankees offense to significantly bounce back from a disappointing 2013 season, so I'd forecast higher totals in the counting categories. Overall then, I'd project a Roto line as follows: 80 / 30 / 90 / 5 / .290.

So what's the worth? Well, we here at RotoAuthority will be providing rankings in the near-future, but here's a sneak preview of my top ten outfielders:

1. Mike Trout

2. Andrew McCutchen

3. Adam Jones

4. Carlos Gonzalez

5. Ryan Braun

6. Jacoby Ellsbury

7. Bryce Harper

8. Carlos Gomez

9. Jay Bruce

10. Carlos Beltran

That's right. I currently have Beltran just inside my top ten among outfielders. While you might think I'm crazy to have him ahead of Justin Upton or Giancarlo Stanton or even Yasiel Puig, the good news for me is that he'll cost a fraction of what those stars are going for on the fantasy marketplace. Beltran enters this week with an ADP of just 83 at CouchManagers, currently going 30th among outfielders. Other fantasy pundits seem to agree with this valuation of Beltran.

When the rest of your league hears the name Carlos Beltran, they think of a player who's washed-up and injury-prone. The truth is this guy can still really hit a baseball. I don't care about a player's age; I only care about his statistics. While the rest of your league spends the big bucks on outfielders early on in drafts, sit back and relax. There's an elite outfielder waiting for you in Round 8.




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