Carlos Beltran still takes endless crap from New York Mets fans for taking a called third strike with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth of Game 7 of the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006, but to the rest of baseball fans, he’s going down as the best postseason hitter of all time. In fact, Beltran’s 1.244 career postseason OPS is the highest in baseball history for any player with at least 100 postseason playoff plate appearances. That mark is higher than Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, who trail him on the list.
Beltran delivered the big blow in Game 1 of the NLDS on Thursday, sending an A.J. Burnett pitch deep to right field for a 3-run home run to put the Cardinals up 3-0 on the Pittsburgh Pirates. The dinger gave Beltran 15 career postseason home runs, which ties him with Babe Ruth for most all time. Babe Ruth. Think about that. Any time you’re tying with Babe Ruth for records, you’re in the best company ever.
Beltran’s studly postseason history began in 2004 when he went nuts with the Houston Astros. Beltran was acquired by the Astros midseason after spending his career with the Kansas City Royals. He went 10-for-22 in the NLDS against the Braves, clubbing two doubles and four home runs for an OPS of 1.591. It was more of the same in the NLCS, which the Astros lost to the Chicago Cubs. He went 10-for-24 with four home runs and eight walks, giving him an OPS of 1.521.
Even in the 2006 playoffs where he took the called third strike from Adam Wainwright, Beltan was still pretty awesome. He posted a 1.054 OPS in the NLCS and won Game 1 of the series with a 2-run home run off Jeff Weaver in the Cards’ 2-0 win. People conveniently forget that he gave them the Game 1 win and only remember the Game 7 strikeout.
Then last year in the playoffs, Beltran refreshed everyone’s memories about how great of a postseason hitter he is.
After a five-year absence from the postseason, Beltran returned with the Cardinals and had terrific series against the Nationals and then Giants. He hit three doubles, two home runs, and walked five times in the NLDS against the Nats. He had three doubles, a home run, and two walks in six games against the Giants.
Beltran has 10 doubles, 15 home runs, 25 walks, a .357 average, and 1.244 career OPS in 35 playoff games. Yes, as of now, Beltran is the most productive postseason hitter ever.