Not even through the Winter meetings in early December and I feel we could all use a break from debating over the same few names.Â So, let’s discuss a topic that MLB followers will toss around for years to come since it hits right here at home.Â IÂ often play the Hall of Fame game with a few of my buddies where we name an athlete with a solid career and we discuss their Hall of Fame credentials.Â Take our “current” Mets first basemen Carlos Delgado:
Delgado’s first full year was in ’96 in Toronto where he made an instant splash batting .270 with 25 homers and 92 RBI’s.Â He spent the next 8 years as a Blue Jay where he never hit less than .262 , blasted less than 26 homers,Â or batted in less than 91 RBI’s.Â That’s consistency, butÂ here are a few things to consider: playing in Canada Delgado never really got recognized as a superstar.Â After back to back titles in 1992 and 1993, Toronto regressed tremendously and was considered a small market team.Â The Blue Jays never made the postseason when Delgado was there, and haven’t since he left. Â Despite big numbers, Delgado only made 2 All Star appearances in his career!Â It wasn’t until 2003 (.302, 42, 145) that he was even considered for MVP (he finished 2nd that year to A-Rod).Â Delgado left the Blue Jays in ’05 for the Florida Marlins where he began tearing up National League pitching just as much as the American League.Â In the 4 seasons with the Mets afterwards, he hit 38 homersÂ and 100+ RBI’s twice.Â Â We really never saw evidence of his bat slowing down until this year, 14 seasons into his impressive career.Â
So how can we measure Delgado up against current Hall of Famers?Â Of course there is the 500 club.Â Nowadays the unspoken rule is that if you reach 500 homeruns you are almost automatically going to Cooperstown.Â Delgado is sitting on 473…and counting.Â Nothing is guaranteed, but I would feel comfortable saying barring any health issues he will reach that plateau.Â He is 30th all time in homeruns and is en route to passing Hall of Famers like Willie Stargell, Stan Musial, Lou Gehrig, and Eddie Murray.Â He is also 49th all time in RBI’s with 1529 en route to passing Joe D and Harmon Killebrew.Â In fact, Delgado is 1 or 2 years away from an elite crew: 500 HR’s/500 doubles/1500 RBI’s, a feat which only 10 other players in history have accomplished.Â
Here is something else to consider which may be the dealbreaker altogether: Carlos was one of the lone all-star sluggers in the 90′s who was NOT associated with steroids.Â That may mean we have to look at his stats a little differently.Â While other guys like Palmeiro, Bonds, Canseco, McGwire, Sosa and even Manny were putting up ridiculous numbers, Delgado was getting his 37 Homeruns or so a year without the juice.Â Now think what you may of how steroid use can really affect your swing, but the fact that Carlos was one of the few all-stars that didn’t touch it will only help his campaign.Â
The knock on Delgado may be on the defensive side where he was never really known for his glove.Â Delgado spent a few seasons rotating from First Base to DH when he was in the AL.Â Some can argue that a Hall of Famer should have a complete set of skills both offensively and defensively.Â Others can argue that Shaq will be in the Hall of Fame on the first ballot, yet he is one of the worst free throw shooters of all time and coaches had to take him out in his prime at the end of big games.Â
I could never decide how I felt about Carlos’s career until I did this research.Â A Hall of Famer to me has to be consistently great.Â A few big 35+ homer seasons will not get you there, but 13 sure will…and counting.Â I do not have a doubt Delgado will reach 500 homers, and when he does, Cooperstown will be the next stop.