Most people underrate Carlos Beltran. Unfortunately that’s what happens to a player who stars in all phases of the game without dominating one.  But I bet that can change if people have a way to identify him.

Carlos Beltran had a big game for the Mets Tuesday night.  He doubled, was credited with a stolen base and scored the tying run in the ninth inning.  Then he drew a bases-loaded walk to win the game for the Mets over the Braves in the 10th.  Beltran finished the night 2-for-4 to raise his average to .374 for the season.

Chipper Jones gets all of the credit in the world for being a “Mets Killer” a reputation cemented by his play versus the team in 1999 when then-manager Bobby Valentine refused to pitch around him and Jones responded with a .400/.510/1.000 line in 49 PA.  Many of those at-bats came in September, when the two teams were battling for the NL East title.  Jones’ big success versus the Mets propelled him to the MVP that season.

But pretty soon we are going to have to refer to Beltran as a “Braves Killer”.  While he does not have half the plate appearances that Jones does (a big point in Jones’ favor) in their rival-team matchup, Beltran has been equally good, if not better, in rate stats.  Here are their lifetime marks versus the other team in the Mets-Braves rivalry:

Beltran – .319/.405/.601 in 318 PA

Jones – .329/.422/.567 in 814 PA

Beltran’s stats include six games in 2004 when he was a member of the Astros.  They do not include that year’s playoffs, when he batted .455/.500/1.091 with 4 HR in 24 PA in the NLDS.

Until Beltran can keep up this pace for six-eight more seasons, Jones has to be considered the bigger “killer”.  But there is another stat that we can look at to see how dominant they have been.

tOPS+ is a stat that compares how a player’s split compares to his overall numbers.  For example, Jones had an OPS of 1.510 in 1999 against the Mets.  His season OPS was 1.074, giving him a tOPS+ of 174.  A number greater than 100 indicates the batter did better than usual in this split, while a number less than 100 means the opposite.

Against the Mets, Jones has had a tOPS+ greater than 100 nine times in his 15-year career, including this year’s 120 after three games.  His 174 mark in 1999 is the best mark of his career.  He also had a 55 mark in 2002 and was under 100 four straight seasons from 2005-2008.  His lifetime mark in the category versus the Mets is 107.

Meanwhile, Beltran has a career 134 tOPS+ versus the Braves.  In 2006, he had a 1.451 OPS versus the Braves, compared to a .982 OPS overall for a 187 tOPS+.  So far this year in four games versus Atlanta, Beltran has a .177 tOPS+.  He edges Jones in both career average and best overall season in tOPS+ and is off to a great start in 2009, too.

Beltran is a Hall of Fame player in the middle of his career.  But for some reason, he does not have that “hook” that allows people to see his greatness.  He does everything well and Beltran looks so effortless doing it that he seemingly gets taken for granted.  He’s probably best known for his performance in the 2004 playoffs, but even that gets downgraded since the Astros lost in the NLCS.

So, the next time you are in a conversation about Beltran, make sure you refer to him as “Braves Killer” Beltran.  We have to do whatever we can to spread the news that Beltran is one of the best players in the game today.

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