On January 6th, the National Baseball Hall of Fame will announce this year’s inductees. This year’s ballot contains 34 names (17 returning players and 17 new). Among these new appearances on the ballot is Blue Jays great, .
Should Carlos Delgado be elected to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown?
My initial reaction to this, as a Blue Jays fan, is “Yes, of course he should”. But, I wanted to find out more about the process and his qualifications to back up my gut reaction.
According to the Hall of Fame site, the following rules are in place: A players must have played during the 15 seasons previous to and retired 5 years before the election. Voters will elect 10 members of the ballot (no write ins). If a player receives 75% of the vote, they are elected into the Hall of Fame. In order for a player to return to the ballot the next year, they have to get 5% of the vote the previous year.
As for the voting, “Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.” This is the criteria I’ll be using to make the case for Carlos Delgado. So, let’s dive in.
Delgado’s career line is .280/.383/.546. He has played in 2035 career games and collected 2038 hits, 473 HR, 1512 RBI over 17 seasons. He had 13 straight 20+ HR seasons! Oh, and he is one of only 6 players in the history of MLB to have 10 consecutive 30+ HR seasons. He’s a 2 time All Star (2000/2003), 3 time Silver Slugger and finished in the top 10 in the MVP race 4 times ending up as high as 2nd in 2003. He has the record for most HR and RBI from a Puerto Rican player. He’s a career 43.5 WAR player.
According to Wikipedia, “During his twelve years with the Toronto Blue Jays, Delgado set many team records, including HR (336), RBI (1,058), walks (827), slugging percentage (.556), OPS (.949), runs (889), total bases (2,786), doubles (343), runs created (1,077), extra base hits (690), times on base (2,362), hit by pitch (122), intentional walks (128) and at bats per home run (14.9).” So, I guess that answers the “contributions to his team” question.
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Obviously, people remember him for his power. Delgado sits in 31st place on MLB’s all time HR list. He’s 2 behind and but ahead of and . He is 52 all time on the RBI list ahead of and well ahead of .
Of the players occupying the ballot with Delgado, only , , , and (1st timer) have more homeruns. Without turning this into a debate about something else, three of those guys are heavily questionable.
As for the character of Mr Delgado, there is no questioning his positive, humanitarian side. In 2006, he received the Award which goes to the player who represents humanitarianism and sportsmanship. As well, in his native Puerto Rico he has been involved in many initiatives to improve health care experiences for children with the Three Kings Day that sees him bring toys to hospitalized children. As well, he donated video conferencing equipment to a hospital in his hometown that allowed a connection to a Boston hospital that enabled video diagnostic and telemedicine.
One of his more famous acts of civil consciousness was when he became outspoken toward the US Government using his native Puerto Rico as a bombing practise site. As well, he would not stand for “God Bless America” opting to stay in the dugout rather than show any support for the US. It came from his belief that the Iraq war was unjustified, which was also an extension of his criticism of US war policies, etc that got him booed in New York. To some this will solidify his qualification as a player who showed character and integrity. But, to others it may actually hurt his case.
Voters may be on the fence when it comes to Carlos Delgado. He is missing much of the important things that some voters use to tilt their voting opinions. When Delgado played, the Blue Jays never finished higher than 3rd place. The Florida Marlins finished 3rd the season he spent there. The Mets finished 1st in the NL East in 2006 with Delgado and ended up losing in the NLCS. They finished 2nd in each of the next two seasons, which were Delgado’s final seasons.
So, unlike other players who had many championships, etc to help build their case, Delgado has none of that. But, the criteria for entry into the HoF do not list ‘winning team’. It should not impact Delgado, but probably will. Another ‘unwritten’ strike against Delgado is one Blue Jays fans may be rather familiar with, but others may dismiss as conspiracy theory.
Delgado spent the bulk of his career playing in Canada. If you don’t think this is an issue, maybe you should go ask Blue Jay great, . He missed out on the HoF despite being VERY worthy. Many think that the Blue Jays do not get as much recognition as they deserve, which impacts awards like MVP, and eventual election into the Hall of Fame.
However, if HoF voters are following the criteria to the letter, none of that should apply to Carlos Delgado. The fact of the matter is that Delgado represents a legitimate power hitter who struck fear into opponents. He did so while being clean. There has been no link to him using PED. In a dispute over a failed autograph deal, Delgado was mentioned as being possibly linked. This can be dismissed as his former business partner and the one being sued simply threw that out there to draw question to the value of the merchandise Delgado signed. In other words: vindictive poppycock.
The fact that Delgado put up these numbers during the ‘Steroid Era’, mostly for a team that most paid minimal attention to may hurt his case. But, if you look at the criteria for election, Carlos Delgado deserves recognition for his great career. Will it be enough to get elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame? Perhaps not. But, he should certainly gain enough to stay on the ballot.