The St. Louis Cardinals Home Run Derby Regress-a-Thon

Have you ever read Carlos Beltran's Twitter feed? It is literally a delight. If every baseball player were as nice, unassuming, and straightforward as Carlos Beltran, Jay Mariotti would kill himself.

The 2012 Home Run Derby is over, and if I have my regression-ignoring All-Star narratives correctly that means we can be assured that Carlos Beltran is going to hit .233 with a bunch of morally reprehensible home runs and strikeouts. But why stop at the Home Run Derby? The All-Star Break is a perfect time for everybody to regress to the mean; they've played enough baseball that all the things we've observed seem to be permanent, but there's enough baseball left to prove to us definitively that they aren't.

So who will be ruined by Carlos Beltran swinging too much for the fences?

Yadier Molina: Ruined is a relative term. Right now Yadier Molina is one home run from a new career high and 64 games away from the 139 he played last season. He's already come down a little off the .900 OPS he had this time last month, but I don't think I'm being too pessimistic in expecting him to finish the season with a slugging percentage south of .500.

Kyle Lohse: Similarly, Kyle Lohse finishing the season with strikeout and walk rates of 5.2 and 1.5, respectively, wouldn't shock me, but him finishing with an ERA of 2.79 and a record of 17-4 would. Lohse has been an enormous part of the Cardinals' continued relevance in the wake of some bad luck with injuries and run distribution, but he'd continue to be that with an ERA closer to his FIP, at 3.74.

Carlos Beltran: Beltran's OPS+ is actually lower this year than it was last year. I wrote a little about this last month; he's done a fine job of turning doubles and triples into an equivalent number of home runs, which will look better when he turns his resume into the Hall of Fame people but otherwise hasn't done much to change his value relative to last season's renaissance.

For what it's worth, I would recommend other Hall of Fame borderliners perform this same trick, if they can manage it. Give Jim Edmonds 25 doubles per 162 games and 37 home runs, instead of 35 doubles and 32 home runs, and he's got 460 homers, instead of 393, and nobody-cares-how-many doubles, instead of nobody-cares-how-many.

Matt Holliday is now probably having a better season than Carlos Beltran. Just thought I'd let you know, people-who-don't-read-this-and-are-surprised-by-that-news.

(Off-topic, but while I'm at it, here's what's frustrating about our fellow fans' inability to appreciate Matt Holliday: He does everything all the complaining, underinformed worst-best-fans-in-baseball wished Ray Lankford and J.D. Drew and Colby Rasmus would do. He runs hard and he doesn't strike out too much and he is objectively good at every dubiously important fundamental their little league coaches taught them--only he's a big, goofy-looking guy and he looks goofy while doing some of those things, and his clutch of haters have long ago forced their first half-formed impressions of his abilities to set, against all odds, into ridiculous dogma. He'll probably continue to have a great season, because he's a great baseball player.)

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