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Carlos Delgado: MLB’s best two-time All-Star

Apr 13, 2011, 6:30 PM EDT

carlos delgado blue jays

Not to say that he was particularly unfortunate — he did make nearly $150 million in his career — but Carlos Delgado should have been more famous. He should have hit 500 homers, he should have made more than just one postseason and he should have gone to several All-Star games, not just two.

Delgado, who signed with the Blue Jays out of Puerto Rico at age 16 in 1988, was initially a catcher in the minors. His bat appeared ready for the majors after he hit .303/.430/.524 with more walks than strikeouts in Double-A in 1993, but he ended up spending most of 1994 and 1995 tearing up Triple-A anyway. Primarily, that was about defense: the Blue Jays gave up on him as a catcher in 1994, but he didn’t take to left field very well and he never got to settle in at first base until 1997.

From 1998 through 2008 — an 11-year span — Delgado finished in the top 10 in his league in homers 10 times. He hit 40 three times. In 2003, he led the AL in OPS at 1019 and in RBI with 145. That year he finished second in the MVP balloting.

Delgado was even better in 2000, when he hit .344/.470/.664 for an 1134 OPS. However, he finished fourth in the MVP balloting that year.

And those were his only two All-Star seasons. Playing in Toronto, Delgado was left overshadowed by Mo Vaughn, Jim Thome, Jason Giambi and Frank Thomas. But he did deserve to go to more All-Star Games than Tino Martinez. Vaughn went to three and he never had a season as good as Delgado’s two best.

Delgado ended up finishing in the top 10 of the MVP balloting four times, including in 2008 with the Mets. He had six top-10 finishes in OPS. He ranks 30th all-time with 473 homers, 38th all-time with a 929 OPS and 49th with 1,512 RBI.

Unfortunately, Delgado got to play in the postseason just once. He made the most of it, hitting .351/.442/.757 with four homers and 11 RBI as the Mets swept the Dodgers in the NLDS and then lost to the Cardinals in seven games in the NLCS in 2006.

Delgado, however, did get a World Series ring. While he wasn’t on the postseason roster, he was awarded one after receiving two September plate appearances with the Blue Jays in 1993.

So, no, Delgado probably won’t go to the Hall of Fame. He was good enough, but not quite for long enough. Maybe if he spent his minor league career as a first baseman and he was allowed to get started a bit earlier (the Blue Jays, though, had John Olerud and didn’t need Delgado there). Maybe if he didn’t hurt his hip in 2009 and he was able to add another 70-80 homers to his fine career total. Maybe if the Blue Jays won their back-to-back championships with Delgado leading the way in 1996-97, rather than before he established himself in 1992-93.

But Delgado is a definite first-ballot Hall of Very Gooder. Besides being a terrific player, he was the Roberto Clemente Award winner in 2006 for his sportsmanship and charity work. He won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

  1. rapmusicmademedoit - Apr 13, 2011 at 6:39 PM

    If this guy was with the Mets I really think he could have made a difference but he too was breaking
    down while the Mets broke down, too bad.

  2. derekjetersmansion - Apr 13, 2011 at 7:25 PM

    Best player to never have steroid stink. Vets Committee could put him in 20 years from now.

    • genericcommenter - Apr 13, 2011 at 8:09 PM

      Does Bagwell have “steroid stink”? I know we went over that during the HOF voting, but I don’t think anyone raised any legit concerns other than cowardly vague accusations?

      As far as overall hitters generally from his era and with long careers, I would put Bagwell, Vlad, Chipper Jones, Frank Thomas, and Thome ahead. An argument could be made for handful of other players who overlapped that era but don’t have the career length yet. And that’s mostly objective, based on the numbers. For example, of 37 players with higher career OPS, around 15 played mostly during the same era as Delgado. Only 2 are known/suspected steroid users. A couple others had huge home/away splits. He does rank ahead of Hank Aaron and Frank Robinson, but that stat isn’t adjusted.

      Looking at adjusted OPS+, then he falls to 83rd. I count at least 13 contemporaries ahead of him there, and only 3 associated with steroids.

      Does Pujols have the stink? He’s obviously better… than most everyone.

  3. jahiegel - Apr 13, 2011 at 9:55 PM

    Bobby Abreu, who will not, one has every expectation, make another All-Star Game in his career, has but two A-S appearances and 13-14 more WAR. I imagine that if we are to confine ourselves to retirees, we’ve to place Delgado near the top of the list of two-appearance players; Darrell Evans, though, probably pips him.

  4. Old Gator - Apr 13, 2011 at 10:51 PM

    Carlos was a class act for the entire time that he wasted his talents in service to Scrooge McLoria. I met him a couple of times at art-related events and found him friendly, smart and unaffected. In addition to having been a top tier ballplayer, he’s an articulate and intelligent man, knowledgeable about both modern and classical art and one of the few ballplayers who had the clarity and the cojones to speak out against George Bush’s criminal misadventure in Iraq. He was a credit to Macondo during the entire period of his incarceration here. I wish him only the best going forward with his life.

    • hasbeen5 - Apr 14, 2011 at 8:52 AM

      If you’re at an art event, aren’t you at least a little affected?

  5. eagles512 - Apr 13, 2011 at 11:54 PM

    Could never root for the guy again after his anti-American actions.

    • Old Gator - Apr 14, 2011 at 12:26 AM

      What was “anti-American” about it? He was hardly the only one who refused to sell his soul for oil and corporate buddyhood. He called the Iraq blunder for what it was: a war of lies, corruption, greed and genocide. I would think that trying to point out to us that we were following a fascistic dimwit and behaving like a bunch of Nazis would be largely to our benefit.

      • schrutebeetfarms - Apr 14, 2011 at 1:07 PM

        I see someone still has the lefty playbook out, that’s good to see.
        I still fail to see how this was America entering a war for oil. What with gas prices twice as much as as they were 5 years ago and all.

  6. soshially - Apr 14, 2011 at 1:41 AM

    The long-running internet campaign finally pays off with a pending Hall of Fame induction, and Bert’s suddenly dropped for a newer, inferior two-time all-star.

  7. banksatdixie - Apr 14, 2011 at 8:42 AM

    I’ll never forget being a kid and staying at the Grand Hyatt the same time as the Blue Jays. I waited in the lobby after the game to get some autographs. Raul Mondesi had no problem signing a ball for me just before he got into a limo with literally 6 women in it, nor did Jose Cruz Jr, Shannon Stewart, or Chris Carpenter. Delgado though, wouldn’t even bother looking at me. Its not like there was a line of people. They wouldn’t even let you in the lobby of the hotel unless you were staying there. Apparently he was too big to give a kid a 7 second autograph. Thats how I’ll remember Carlos Delgado.

  8. nymets05 - Apr 14, 2011 at 9:58 AM

    A big contributor with the Mets.He should have gotten to the World Series in 2006 if not for Aaron Heilman and Yadier Molina.His offensive skills will be missed.

  9. eagles512 - Apr 14, 2011 at 4:02 PM

    Old Gator, you might want to go to one of your wacked out leftist websites instead of wasting our time here with those old comments about Bush lying and all. I feel bad for people like you who can’t think for themselves.

    • Reflex - Apr 14, 2011 at 7:20 PM

      Sorry, man, but at this point its mainstream belief that Bush lied. Its really not even debateable. I am hardly a ‘leftist’. I know I was lied to, and I feel bad for supporting Bush at the time. Saddam had no usable WMD’s. He had no link to Al Quaida(in fact, he was a known target of Al Quaida). There was *no* good reason to go into Iraq. And yes, Bush knew that.

      I don’t pretend to understand the motivations. I don’t go invent conspiracies that fit my own world view like some of the ‘whacked out leftists’ you refer to. That said, these days its the far right who makes up the most conspiracies about Bush and his successor.

  10. eagles512 - Apr 14, 2011 at 7:44 PM

    If that’s the case, then did Hillary lie? John Kerry? The NY Times? Britain? They all saw the same intelligence and came to the same conclusion. I’m not saying I’m glad we went to war, but The Bush lying angle is for people like Michael Moore.

    • Reflex - Apr 14, 2011 at 8:56 PM

      No, they were presented with selective intelligence. Part of the post-Bush investigations has demonstrated that his advisors routinely ignored and discredited intelligence that did not build towards the conclusions they drew prior to making the public case. They also went out of their way to undermine anyone who pointed out this fact, as they did to Joe Wilson and Valarie Plame, famously committing illegal acts in order to discredit intelligence that went against the administration view.

      The NY Times, the British government, the German government and John Kerry were being handed one sided information justifying the conclusions from the Bush administration. This is well documented. When presented with only facts that support a single conclusion, and when information that goes against that conclusion is intentionally withheld, most people would agree with the conclusion being offered.

      • jwbiii - Apr 15, 2011 at 12:04 AM

        The British government was complicit in the Iraq false intelligence and it led to a (a href=”http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/diplomats-suppressed-document-lays-bare-the-lies-behind-iraq-war-428545.html”>regime change there.

      • jwbiii - Apr 15, 2011 at 12:05 AM

        HTML fail. Try this link.

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