Carlos Beltran knows the numbers.
He knows what they are when he’s strictly a designated hitter and when he starts in rightfield.
Still, the answer remains the same regarding his preference, something he has said throughout his time with the Yankees.
“That’s my position,” Beltran, 39, said of rightfield. “I know Joe [Girardi] is always trying to find a way to give me days here and there, and I have no problem with that. But I love to be in the outfield, I love to be in the game. I feel like I’m more productive being out there.”
Productive, he meant, in ways beyond the numbers, which are striking.
The switch-hitting Beltran enters the opener of a three-game series against the Blue Jays on Tuesday night at the Stadium with a .274/.299/.522 slash line, with nine homers and 27 RBIs in 43 games.
But as a DH, those numbers are .346/.357/.808 with five homers and 17 RBIs in 52 at-bats, and as a rightfielder, they are .245/.278/.392 with four homers and nine RBIs in 102 at-bats.
In the Yankees’ four-game sweep of the A’s over the weekend, which completed a 5-2 western trip and gave them victories in 12 of their last 17 games, Beltran went 9-for-18 with a home run, five doubles and eight RBIs, all as the DH.
“He’s fun to watch every day,” Brian McCann said. “He’s as good as they come.”
With the expectation that Alex Rodriguez will return from the disabled list Tuesday, Beltran will be back in rightfield, though Girardi indicated not necessarily exclusively.
“It’s [DH] been a really good spot for him,” Girardi said. “He’s going to play some right, he’s going to DH some, too.”
Part of it is how well Beltran has performed in the role, but Aaron Hicks’ contributions since Rodriguez went on the DL with a strained right hamstring on May 4 also factored into it.
Hicks, 26, has a strong arm and, to put it kindly, gives the Yankees a bit more of an athletic presence in rightfield than Beltran does. After toting a .067/.125/.067 slash line into action May 5, Hicks has put together a .286/.317/.446 line with two homers and eight RBIs in 18 games since essentially becoming an everyday player on that date.
“When Alex went down, Carlos really stepped up, and that’s what you need,” Mark Teixeira said. “A good team is going to have to have guys step up when others go down. He’s really filled in nicely in that DH spot, and it’s given other guys a chance to play, [it’s given] Hicksy a chance to play, which is nice.”
Beltran, however, isn’t ready to embrace the full-time DH role the way A-Rod, himself skeptical at the start, eventually did last season.
“Sometimes doing less is good for you,’’ Beltran said. “ I like to be in the outfield. I know people think I’m done in the outfield, but I love being out there. I feel like I’m more in the game . . . I watch the game, I watch everyone’s at-bats and I get caught up in being more focused than DH, even though I had a great series here as a DH.”
And he has played more than a bit part in the Yankees’ climb to within one game of .500 after a 9-17 start.
“We knew that we were not playing good baseball and we knew that we needed to find a way to put things together,” Beltran said. “We also knew that you can’t jump to the top [of the division] in one day. It takes time and it takes courage and it takes discipline, and we were able to put all those things together.”
In half as many ABs, Carlos Beltran has been far more productive at the plate as a DH than as a rightfielder:
5Home runs 4
.808 Slugging pct. .392