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Carlos Delgado, Hall of Famer. It has a nice ring to it. Whether that will come to pass in 15 years is an open question.

The details of Carlos Delgado's career and 2004 season are so familiar that they hardly need repeating here. He was signed at the age of 16 by the Jays as a catcher. He worked his way up through each level of the minors- St. Catherines, Myrtle Beach, Dunedin, Knoxville and Syracuse, laying waste to pitchers and gathering hardware. Along the way, he injured the shoulder of his throwing arm, and so the Jays, who had John Olerud at first, made him into an outfielder and later DH. When Olerud left the club, he took over the first base job, and it has been his since. He arrived as a big-time hitter in 1998, had a great season in 2000 (.340/.470/.664), and was again one of the best hitters in the league in 2001-2003. He struggled mightily in the first half of 2004, but rebounded in the second half to post a .269/.372/.535 line for the season.

Carlos is an average defender at first, and has only slightly below average speed. He has not seen post-season action yet.

Before we turn to the chart, a word about comparables. Baseball Reference lists Willie McCovey as Carlos' closest comparable. That would be great for Carlos, but BR's similarity scores fail to account adequately for the differences between the hitting environment of the 90s and that of the 60s. With that in mind, here's Carlos' chart:

Player    G     AB     H     HR    W     BA    OBP   SLUG   OPS+
Delgado 1423 5008 1413 336 827 .282 .392 .556 140
Palmeiro 1620 6097 1792 271 656 .294 .364 .496 130
McGriff 1450 5129 1466 317 812 .286 .383 .530 145
Murray 1820 6845 2021 333 857 .295 .371 .500 141
Vaughn 1346 4996 1479 299 652 .298 .387 .533 135

Delgado is closest to the Murray/Palmeiro/McGriff line of players, and if he can sustain his excellence as they did, he has a reasonable chance at the Hall. He has not been as dominant a hitter as Thomas and Bagwell were in the 90s. Subjectively, I have always felt that Delgado might be the type of athlete who produces best in his mid-30s, and I wondered if a pattern arose from his career to date. I studied first baseman, using 3 year weighted averages of their OPS+, to see if there was something special in his career path that might give a hint. Here are the results of that study:

             24-26                  27-29              30-32         Career
Player PA wt.OPS PA wt.OPS PA wt.OPS
Delgado 1776 127.9 2096 153.6 1889 147.9 140
McGriff 1961 158.4 1914 151.3 1773 129.6 145
Palmeiro 1997 131 1885 136.6 2048 129 130
Bagwell 1785 158.9 1975 165 2109 159.7 159
Thome 1820 159.8 1850 141.5 1955 169.5 151

To my surprise, it's not only Delgado whose performance at age 30-32 exceeded both his age 24-26 and his career marks. That's also true of Bagwell and Thome, neither of whom are likely candidates for a late career peak.

Will Delgado end up in the Hall of Fame? I think so. It's as likely as not that he'll end up with a similar career to Fred McGriff in actual value, but a flashier home run number, and that would make the difference.

For the Green projection method today, huevos rancheros, saute onions and tomatoes, add optional chilies, and then scramble in eggs. Savour and pronounce:

Carlos Delgado's final statistics-550 homers; .276/.389/.550

Next up: Jim Thome

Other first basemen in this series: Jeff Bagwell, Frank Thomas, Rafael Palmeiro, Fred McGriff
Hall Watch 2004-The First Basemen-Carlos Delgado | 6 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
_David C - Wednesday, November 10 2004 @ 10:59 PM EST (#18492) #
Brought over from the McGriff thread. Note that Bgs & Thomas are 36, Thome 33 & Helton is only 30 (Delgado is 32)

Black Ink Test (league Leader)- Average HOF > 27 (hard to get now)

24 - Bagwell
21 - Thomas
16 - Helton
13 - Thome
08 - Delgado

Grey Ink Test (top 10) Average HOF > 144

189 - Thomas
157 - Bagwell
125 - Helton
094 - Delgado
091 - Thome

Hall of Fame Standards (see website for details) - Average HOF > 50

59.0 - Bagwell
56.5 - Thomas
42.7 - Thome
39.0 - Helton
31.0 - Delgado

Hall of Fame Monitor (see website for details) - Average HOF > 100

179.0 - Thomas
152.5 - Helton
149.5 - Bagwell
114.5 - Thome
080.0 - Delgado

Delgago seems to be lagging behind his peers and needs to stave off any decline. A move to a pitchers park like Seattle may also derail his quest for 500 HR. Now McGriff was able to get 176 more homers from 33 onwards but his longevity was considered unusual & he did have the benefit of the recent offensive spike that seems to have now crested. I would would put his hall hopes as questionable.
_Magpie - Wednesday, November 10 2004 @ 11:32 PM EST (#18493) #
Along the way, he injured the shoulder of his throwing arm, and so the Jays, who had John Olerud at first, made him into an outfielder and later DH.

I don't remember a shoulder injury. I believe in spring 1994 they were still thinking of him as the catcher of the future, which would arrive when Pat Borders became a free agent after the 1994 season.

But the Jays went into spring 1994 without a proven LF (Rob Butler was the closest thing to an incumbent) and no one could get Delgado out in Florida. Borders was still the catcher, the WS MVP was ther DH, and the AL batting champ was at 1B. So halfway through camp (March 18), they stuck Delgado in LF. When he went back to Syracuse in June, he went back behind the plate.

In 1995, after starting the year with Toronto, he went back to Syracuse and it was then that they turned him into a first baseman.
Mike Green - Thursday, November 11 2004 @ 10:08 AM EST (#18494) #
I definitely remember a shoulder injury, but seeing as it's over 10 years ago and my memory is notoriously unreliable, I'll check some references at home tonight.
Mike Green - Thursday, November 11 2004 @ 08:47 PM EST (#18495) #
Magpie, I could find no references in books to his shoulder condition. The thing I cannot figure it out from your recollection is why the Jays would not have given Delgado a shot as a catcher in 1995-6 if his shoulder was fine. They'd spend a huge amount of organizational effort on teaching him to catch, and the options at catcher were not exciting- Sandy Martinez, Randy Knorr, a 39 year old Lance Parrish. Carlos Delgado caught 2 games in a Blue Jay uniform.

I probably learned about Delgado's shoulder from Toronto Star articles at the time. I'd have to go into their archives to verify it.
_Krylian - Saturday, November 13 2004 @ 12:19 AM EST (#18496) #
His defence behind the plate was terrible. That's why he was not given more time behind the plate.
Mike Green - Saturday, November 13 2004 @ 02:24 PM EST (#18497) #
I didn't actually see him in the minors. Reports on his defence coming up through the system were that he had a fine arm, but that the finer points of his defence needed work. His minor league teams did very well with him catching, so honestly I'd be surprised if his defence was that bad, but you may be right.
Hall Watch 2004-The First Basemen-Carlos Delgado | 6 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.