If you had told me in March that Adrian Beltre would be hitting .335 on June 16, I'd probably laugh in your face.
And then I'd ask you if he's played more than three games.
But that's exactly what Beltre is doing at this point in the season. I don't think anyone could have called this, either. Everyone expected Beltre to having an offensive surge in his move from Safeco Field to Fenway Park, but I don't think anyone expected this kind of improvement.
A lot of people expected Beltre's power numbers to improve (more on that in a second), but you didn't really hear anyone say, "that batting average is really going to make a jump, too." Moving into a hitter's park is going to help a little bit, but Beltre hit .265 last year ... TWO SIXTY FIVE. As of today, Beltre's batting average is a full 70 points higher.
Batting average isn't everything, of course. It doesn't indicate Beltre is an amazing hitter, but he is showing that he is a pretty darn good one. Another good stat for Beltre is this one: .388. That's his wOBA. That ranks second on the Red Sox behind Kevin Youkilis' .448 (which is second-best in all of baseball).
Of course, it'd be nice if Beltre took a few more walks. He has 13 walks in 62 games this season. He's projected to walk 33 over the course of a full season. That would be his lowest total in a somewhat full season since 2001 when he was with the Dodgers (28).
Beltre has also gone about this in a very unassuming way. Perhaps that's because he's not producing a ton of "memorable" hits. He isn't single-handedly winning games. He's been a vital part, sure, but how many big hits can you remember of Beltre's right off the top of your head?
To revisit the power talk, Beltre has seemed to regain his power stroke now that he's in Fenway. Despite going through April without a home run, Beltre moved on and hit five in May and has four so far in June. He's projected to hit 23 home runs. That's right in line with what he did after his 48 home run season of 2004.
Twenty-three home runs and a wOBA in the .380 range? Sure. I'll take that. Don't ask me twice, though.
Unfortunately, do you know what all this sets up? It most likely sets up an Adrian Beltre-free 2011. Beltre's contract allows him to opt out of 2011 and that's exactly what his agent, Scott Boras, wants. Boras wanted Beltre to go to Boston with a cheap contract, have an amazing 2010 and then hit the market again and make even more money. As it lines up now, that's exactly what's going to happen. It's shrewd and it's smart ... very smart.
In the meantime, let's enjoy Beltre in the lineup. He's been hitting the ball for three months and I wouldn't be surprised if he does it for three or four more.