Carlos Delgado falls off Hall of Fame ballot
The Hall of Fame induction class has been announced, and by receiving less than 5% of votes, Carlos Delgado has unfortunately fallen off the ballot. The always-controversial voting process was complicated even further this year by great debate over the “steroid era”, but the low appreciation given to Delgado is surprising for one of the greatest Blue Jays of all time.
Delgado narrowly misses out on inclusion in future ballots, as his 21 votes falls just short of the 30 he would have needed to secure 5%.
As Shaun Doyle outlined yesterday, the case for Carlos Delgado to be given serious Hall of Fame consideration is much more than a nation of Blue Jays fans hoping for one of their own. Delgado was the Blue Jays’ star player, sometimes their only one, through many tough seasons in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Without having the help in his lineup that many other Hall of Famers had, Delgado averaged 36 HR, 113 RBI and a .286 batting average from 1996-2004 in Toronto.
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Delgado’s 473 career home runs ranked 31st all-time at his retirement, while his .939 on base plus slugging ranked 37th. No Puerto Rican player has his more Major League home runs than Delgado, who cracked the top-10 in MVP voting four times, highlighted by a 2nd-place finish in 2003.
Most impressive to me was Delgado’s consistency of excellence. Each year we see a notorious power hitter fall off the map, at least for a season or two. Delgado was able to hit 30 home runs in 10 straight seasons, a feat only accomplished by five other players in history.
Strangely enough, this consistency could be working against Delgado. The elusive 500 home run plateau could have done wonders for his Hall of Fame chances, but he sits just 27 short. His career also lacks a stretch of seasons where he led the league in all major statistical categories and pushed for a triple crown, and I was stunned to read that he is only a two-time All Star. If you can show me a better two-time All Star, I’ll be shocked.
The issue of the steroid era is a can of worms best left unopened. While many players in his era, especially power hitters such as Delgado, were linked to steroid use, Delgado remained free those accusations and remained insistent that he had played a clean career. Are his numbers from that era subconsciously linked to the controversy? Perhaps, but we can’t know for sure.
As Shaun Doyle also detailed yesterday, other non-performance issues such as Delgado’s public stance against the United States of America and the war in Iraq also changed the position of many baseball writers and fans on the Blue Jays’ slugger. As a Puerto Rican playing on a non-American team, he was labeled as anti-American. The size of the market in Toronto surely did not help, either, as Delgado’s teams did not even sniff a championship ring.
All of this being said, the Hall of Fame ballot is an absolute logjam right now, and Delgado debuted on a very unfortunate ballot year. He will maintain the possibility of being voted into the Hall of Fame by the Veteran’s Committee, but that could take many, many years. Other first basemen such as Fred McGriff and Don Mattingly have stayed in the Hall of Fame mix for many years themselves, with this being Mattingly’s 15th and final year of eligibility.
In this class, I admittedly understand that many writers will rank Delgado outside of their top ten. For Carlos Delgado to fall off the Hall of Fame ballot altogether, though, just 1.2% of votes short of staying on, is a disservice to a career of greatness that has become sadly unappreciated.