Two years ago, Carlos Beltran, who had never taken a World Series at-bat, signed with the St. Louis Cardinals. Against at least one offer of three years and the possibility for four, Beltran accepted two years – and $26 million – from the Cardinals, because he believed an October like the one that just passed was more likely in St. Louis.
At the risk of another year or two of security, atop knees so creaky he played 81 games in 2009 and 64 in 2010, Beltran nevertheless was beyond sturdy for the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants in 2011, and then became a fixture for the Cardinals in the early post-Pujols era. True to his reputation, he batted .306 over 29 postseason games in St. Louis with five home runs and 21 RBI. He ran into the outfield wall in Fenway Park when the World Series was only minutes old, still played in every game, still batted .294 (the rest of the Cardinals batted .220), and perhaps showed once and for all that Carlos Beltran was not the soft player some folks – and Mets fans – presumed him to be.