Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Future HOFer?: Carlos Delgado

I didn't intend to take 2-3 weeks off of blogging about the Twins, but to be honest, there hasn't been much of anything to talk about. I could do a Top 20 Prospect list like many others out there, or a Top 40 Twins of All-Time like Gleeman, but that sort of thing is basically a blogging euphemism for "nothing is happening." No offense to anyone who puts those together, I really enjoy reading the lists, but that's not for me.

One thing I like to do from time to time is take a look at certain players who may be on the cusp of having potential Hall of Fame stats and speculate on their chances. I've done it with Johnny Damon, Todd Helton and Bobby Abreu and the Damon piece actually got a fair amount of play. Today's candidate is Carlos Delgado.

Delgado was signed, at age 17, by the Toronto Blue Jays as an amateur free-agent in 1988, right out of high-school. Between 1989 and 1995, Delgado spent a significant amount of time in the minors, though he did make his Major League debut in 1993, playing in 2 game during a year in which the Blue Jays won the World Series (Delgado didn't play in the post-season). With a .302/.403/.520 career minor league hitting line, it was clear that Delgado had the bat to make it in the Majors. In 1996, he became a full-time Major Leaguer, splitting time between 1st base and DH.

From the time Delgado had a full-time spot in the Bigs, he didn't disappoint. Starting in 1996, he ripped off 13 consecutive seasons with at least 24HRs and 91RBIs. Over that period he had over 35HRs seven times (including over 30 in ten consecutive years) and knocked in over 100 nine times. He finished in the top-10 in the MVP voting 4 times during his career, won the Silver Slugger Award 3 times, and was elected to the All-Star team 2 times (2000 and 2003).

Delgado's career triple-slash is an impressive .280/.383/.546, and if he doesn't play again, he'll finish his career with 1,512 RBIs (49th All-Time), 473 HRs (30th All-Time), and 1,241 Rs. His career 138 OPS+ ranked 83rd All-Time which puts him ahead of HOFers such as George Brett, Ken Griffey Jr. (sure-fire HOFer), Larry Doby and Al Kaline. As far as Puerto Rican players go, he ranks #1 all-time in HRs and RBIs.

At 38, it appears that Delgado's career is very near the end, if not already over. After playing only 26 games in the 2009 season, Delgado managed only 5 minor league games last season and has been battling hip issues over that period. Unless a team takes a flier on him, it's doubtful we'll see him in a Major League uniform again, though it's not entirely out of the question. On the strength of Delgado's HR and RBI numbers alone he looks Hall worthy. His 15,144 putouts at 1st base ranks him 42nd All-Time and he showed some durability during his prime. He had the misfortune of playing during the Steroid era so the question will probably hang over him. I would assert that Delgado is definitely in the discussion for the Hall of Fame, but he is by no means a 1st ballot, no-doubter. He was a very good player during his time and one of the best in Jays history, but offensively talented 1st basemen aren't exactly rare making the competition steep.

As a side note, CONGRATS TO BERT BLYLEVEN. Dozens of other Twins blogs have written about it so I won't over-saturate the market, but he's been waiting a long time, it's good to see him finally get the nod.

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