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Carlos Delgado turns 47 today.
Carlos Delgado was born in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. The Blue Jays signed him as an amateur free agent in 1988, when he was just 16. He went through the Jay’s minor league system as a catcher. He quickly became our top prospect; he hit 30 home runs in Dunedin in 1992 at 20 years old and then 25 the next season at Double-A Knoxville.
Carlos got called up to Toronto at the end of the 1993 season, our second World Series winner, but only got into a couple of games. The Jays gave him a ring anyway. The next season he started the year with the Jays. He played most of the games for the first couple of months, playing left field. Things started well, he had a 1.028 OPS on April 24th with 8 home runs, but it went downhill from there. He was sent back down to the minors in early June. He was hitting .215/.352/.438 when he was sent down. Cito never has had any patience with young players, it would have been nice if some patience was shown here. Bill James said that he would be an MVP candidate by 2000. He turned out to be an MVP candidate several times.
In 1995 the Jays brought Delgado up at the end of April but Cito used him mostly as a pinch hitter and he didn’t hit much in the 25 at bats he was given that month (it was more important to keep Joe Carter’s .300 OBP in the lineup) and was sent back down. They brought him back up in September and he did play more but still didn’t hit much.
Finally in 1996 Carlos got to stay up with the Jays for the full season, DHing most of the time, he hit .270/.353/.490 with 25 homers and 82 RBI. After the season the Jays traded John Olerud to make room at first base for Carlos.
Over the first couple of months of the 1997 season Joe Carter played first base and Carlos DHed but by late May Delgado took over at first and played there for the next 8 years. He had a great year hitting .262/.350/.528 with 30 homers and 91 RBI.
In 1998 Carlos played first base full time and his numbers took another big jump. He hit .292/.385/.592 with 38 homers and 115 RBI. He got MVP votes for the first time in his career and finished 5th in the league in slugging average.
He had another great season in 1999, hitting .272/.377/.571, setting a new career high in homers with 44, RBI with 134, runs with 113 and walks with 86. He won his first Silver Slugger award and finished 12 in MVP voting. He tied George Bells single season team record for RBI. He would have set a new record but he missed the final 10 games of the season, breaking his tibia fouling a ball off his leg.
In 2000 Carlos played in all 162 games, led the league with 57 doubles. He hit .344/.470/.664, had 41 homers and set a new team record with 137 RBI. He also took 123 walks and led the league being hit by pitch 15 times. He made the All-Star team for the first time, came in 4th in MVP voting, won the AL Hank Aaron Award (for best hitter) and was the Sporting New Player of the Year. He also got his second Silver Slugger award. Carlos finished 4th in the league in batting average, 2nd in on base average, 2nd in walks, 2nd in slugging and first in total bases.
His .664 slugging average is the Jays single season record .344 BA and .470 OBP are both the second best in Jay history. That season is also the Jay season high in total bases, doubles, walks, extra base hits and runs created. He was AL Player of the Week twice and had a 22 game hit streak. He was one of 7 Jays to hit 20 homers and one of 3 with 30.
Delgado played in all 162 games again in 2001. His numbers dropped off some from the year before, hitting .279/.408/.540 with 39 homers, 102 RBI and 111 walks. Pretty decent for a down season. It was his 4th consecutive season with over 35 HR and 100 RBI. He also stole a base for the first time in his MLB career.
His numbers fell off a bit more in 2002. He hit .277/.406/.549 with 33 homers, 108 RBI and 102 walks. He finished 4th in the league in OBP, 8th in slugging and 4th in walks. Carlos was the first Jay to hit 30 homers in 6 consecutive seasons and 100 RBI in 5. He missed a game August 4th to snap a streak of 432 consecutive games played. Then went on the DL for just the second time in his career, later in the August, with a stiff back.
Carlos had a bounce back season in 2003, hitting .302/.426/.593 with 42 home runs and a new career and franchise high in RBI with 145 which also led the league. He made the All-Star team, got the Silver Slugger award and came in second in the MVP voting. He finished 2nd in slugging, on base, home runs and walks.
It was his 7th straight year with 30 home runs, 6th 100 RBI and 5th with 100 runs. Among other achievements, he had 97 RBI at the All-Star break and 4 home runs in a game on Sept. 25th. HE reached base 334 times, setting another team record.
2004 was Delgado’s last season with the team, he missed about a month of the season with a strained rib cage and missed getting to 100 RBI for the first time since 1997. He still had 32 home runs and hit .269/.372/.545.
After the season Carlos was a free agent and the team decided not to try to sign him. JP was trying to cut salary and Carlos made $19.7 million in 2004. He signed a 4 year contract with the Florida Marlins. I felt that Carlos got blame for the team not making the playoffs. I find bad organizations (and often fans) will blame the team’s best player for the team’s short comings. We heard enough of that during Jose Bautista’s early years with the team.
After one season with the Marlins, they decided to cut payroll and traded Delgado to the Mets for Mike Jacobs, Yusmeiro Petit and Grant Psomas. Carlos played for the Met for 4 seasons, making the playoffs for the first time in 2006, losing out to the Cardinals in the NLCS in 2007.
Carlos retired with a .280/.383/.546 batting line and 473 home runs in 2035 games. He was one and out on the Hall of Fame ballot, only getting 3.8% of the votes in 2015. He deserved better.
Rob Neyers ‘Big Book of Baseball Lineups’ lists him as the best Jay first baseman. It also calls him the worst defensive first baseman in Jay history too. Considering John Mayberry played first for us too, that’s saying something. He’s right, Delgado was never much with the glove, but I don’t think we ever had a better hitter.
Carlos was awarded the Roberto Clemente Award in 2006 for ‘good play and strong work in the community’. He does work for many charities in Puerto Rico.
He has had his moments of controversy. He protested the war in Iraq by not standing during ‘God Bless America’ (he was ahead of his time). He said ”I just feel so sad for the families that lost relatives and loved ones in the war. But I think it’s the stupidest war ever.”
He is married and has a son and a daughter.