Josh Hamilton’s hot bat has generated a lot of buzz over the past week, and deservedly so. Hamilton has 11 hits in his last 22 at-bats. Eleven of those hits have gone over the fence for home runs. He has brought in 14 runs.
All of a sudden, one of main topics of conversation around the league is Hamilton’s contract. It expires this year, and after Hamilton hit four two-run home runs in one game, I turned on the TV and saw Tim Kurkjian guessing as to weather or not Hamilton would stay in Texas after this season – and soon-to-be a billion home runs.
Nobody’s going to say Hamilton doesn’t deserve the attention he’s getting, but certainly he’s overshadowing another player (on a team Hamilton faced in the World Series) who’s having just as good of a week.
Carlos Beltran has blown a bubble around St. Louis this past week. The talk isn’t so much about Hamilton’s performance down south than it is about Beltran, the Cardinals’ free agent pick-up this offseason after losing the Albert Pujols sweepstakes.
Beltran nearly hit for the cycle Friday night, in a loss to the Atlanta Braves, but that was OK given that he hit two home runs, a triple (a few centimeters from a home run), and drove in four runs. Similar to Hamilton, Beltran is 10 for his last 22 at-bats. Beltran has five home runs and 11 RBIs.
Beltran’s hot streak, though, is much more surprising.
Cardinals’ GM John Mozeliak appears to have picked another diamond in the rough, another veteran big leaguer who many people wrote off. In losing Pujols this offseason (in what seemed like a half-assed effort to keep him), Mozeliak put a lot of faith in Beltran being that he signed him days after Pujols finalized his decision. Thus far Beltran has come through.
On the other end of the spectrum, look at what Pujols has done – I don’t think I need to spell that out for you. In short, Pujols went 0-for-4 and failed to get a ball out of the infield while Beltran had a multi-home run night Friday.
Hamilton had a good game Friday night, too – two more home runs. However, if you asked scouts which player they could see having such a hot streak this season, I bet you a hundred they’d say Hamilton. Maybe including Cardinals scouts.
Beltran’s streak is more surprising for that reason. He may have been thought of as a bigger threat to do it in, say, 2004. Then, he was playing for the Houston Astros and instead of helping the Cardinals win games he was their worst nightmare.
Every Cardinal fan knew Carlos Beltran as a Cardinal killer before this season, and especially in 2004. Beltran put the hurt on the Cardinals in the ’04 playoffs. Although the Astros lost in a seven-game series, Beltran was 10-for-24 with four home runs and five RBIs. He could’ve had more if not for eight walks, as it was clear the Cardinals were pitching around him.
This season the Cardinal killer is one of the Cardinals’ best players and is helping them win games. It’s crazy to consider that two players on opposite ends of the spectrum are having weeks like Beltran and Hamilton are right now, but it’s a great story.
At the very least, Beltran is helping Cardinals fans forget a certain someone, rapidly.