Carlos Beltran played zero innings in center field last season, but he was out there for today’s spring training game and the Cardinals are considering giving him some regular season starts.
Jon Jay is the primary center fielder, but manager Mike Mathney told Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com that he’d like to occasionally sub Beltran in versus left-handed pitchers.
That may not happen very often early on, but once Allen Craig returns from knee surgery and Matheny wants to get him in the lineup alongside Beltran, Lance Berkman, and Matt Holliday shifting Beltran to center field and Jay to the bench against lefties is an easy solution.
Assuming, of course, that Beltran’s knees hold up at age 34. He won three straight Gold Gloves in 2006-2008, but graded out poorly according to Ultimate Zone Rating in 2009 and 2010 before taking last season off from the position.
Former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera deservingly became the first player ever inducted into the Hall of Fame unanimously, receiving votes from all 425 writers who submitted ballots. Previously, the closest players to unanimous induction were Ken Griffey, Jr. (99.32% in 2016), Tom Seaver (98.84% in 1992), Nolan Ryan (98.79% in 1999), Cal Ripken, Jr. (98.53%), Ty Cobb (98.23% in 1936), and George Brett (98.19% in 1999).
Because so many greats were not enshrined in Cooperstown unanimously, many voters in the past argued against other players getting inducted unanimously, withholding their votes for otherwise deserving players. That Griffey — both one of the greatest outfielders of all time and one of the most popular players of all time — wasn’t voted in unanimously in 2016, for example, seemed to signal that no player ever would. Now that Rivera has been, this tired argument about voting unanimity can be laid to rest.
Derek Jeter will appear on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time next year. He may become the second player ever to be elected unanimously. David Ortiz appears on the 2022 ballot and could be No. 3. Now that Rivera has broken through, these are possibilities whereas before they might not have been.
Another tired argument around Hall of Fame voting concerns whether or not a player is a “first ballot” Hall of Famer. Some voters think getting enshrined in a player’s first year of eligibility is a greater honor than getting in any subsequent year. I’m not sure what it will take to get rid of this argument — other than the electorate getting younger and more open-minded — but at least we have made progress on at least one bad Hall of Fame take.