Carlos Delgado: MLB’s best two-time All-Star

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Not to say that he was particularly unfortunate — he did make nearly $150 million in his career — but Carlos Delgado should have been more famous. He should have hit 500 homers, he should have made more than just one postseason and he should have gone to several All-Star games, not just two.

Delgado, who signed with the Blue Jays out of Puerto Rico at age 16 in 1988, was initially a catcher in the minors. His bat appeared ready for the majors after he hit .303/.430/.524 with more walks than strikeouts in Double-A in 1993, but he ended up spending most of 1994 and 1995 tearing up Triple-A anyway. Primarily, that was about defense: the Blue Jays gave up on him as a catcher in 1994, but he didn’t take to left field very well and he never got to settle in at first base until 1997.

From 1998 through 2008 — an 11-year span — Delgado finished in the top 10 in his league in homers 10 times. He hit 40 three times. In 2003, he led the AL in OPS at 1019 and in RBI with 145. That year he finished second in the MVP balloting.

Delgado was even better in 2000, when he hit .344/.470/.664 for an 1134 OPS. However, he finished fourth in the MVP balloting that year.

And those were his only two All-Star seasons. Playing in Toronto, Delgado was left overshadowed by Mo Vaughn, Jim Thome, Jason Giambi and Frank Thomas. But he did deserve to go to more All-Star Games than Tino Martinez. Vaughn went to three and he never had a season as good as Delgado’s two best.

Delgado ended up finishing in the top 10 of the MVP balloting four times, including in 2008 with the Mets. He had six top-10 finishes in OPS. He ranks 30th all-time with 473 homers, 38th all-time with a 929 OPS and 49th with 1,512 RBI.

Unfortunately, Delgado got to play in the postseason just once. He made the most of it, hitting .351/.442/.757 with four homers and 11 RBI as the Mets swept the Dodgers in the NLDS and then lost to the Cardinals in seven games in the NLCS in 2006.

Delgado, however, did get a World Series ring. While he wasn’t on the postseason roster, he was awarded one after receiving two September plate appearances with the Blue Jays in 1993.

So, no, Delgado probably won’t go to the Hall of Fame. He was good enough, but not quite for long enough. Maybe if he spent his minor league career as a first baseman and he was allowed to get started a bit earlier (the Blue Jays, though, had John Olerud and didn’t need Delgado there). Maybe if he didn’t hurt his hip in 2009 and he was able to add another 70-80 homers to his fine career total. Maybe if the Blue Jays won their back-to-back championships with Delgado leading the way in 1996-97, rather than before he established himself in 1992-93.

But Delgado is a definite first-ballot Hall of Very Gooder. Besides being a terrific player, he was the Roberto Clemente Award winner in 2006 for his sportsmanship and charity work. He won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

Ramón Laureano made an absolutely ridiculous play yesterday

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I talked about it in the recaps, but dear lord does Oakland A’s outfielder Ramón Laureano’s play in yesterday’s game against the Blue Jays deserve it’s own post.

Jays first baseman Justin Smoak led off the second with a single Then Teoscar Hernández then came up and hit a long drive to center. In what, in and of itself, would’ve lead the highlight reels yesterday, Laureano ranged back to the wall and reached over to rob Hernández of a homer.

Laureano is known best for his arm, though, and that’s when he unleashed that hose, attempting to double off Smoak at first base all the way from the warning track. The throw was not on target — indeed, it sailed way past first base — but that was itself impressive as all get-out. As A’s pitcher Brett Anderson said after the game, he’s pretty sure the throw went farther than Hernández hit the ball in the first place. The arm strength on display there was simply phenomenal. But it was also lucky.

Lucky because the throw went so far into foul territory that it gave Smoak the courage to break for second base. Laureano was not the only one playing great defense on the play, though: A’s catcher Nick Hundley backed up the play, got Laureano’s errant throw and fired it down to second, nailing Smoak. And heck, Hundley’s throw was nothing to sneeze at either:

That did not go as an outfield assist for Lauerano, obviously, as his bad throw — which would’ve been an error had Smoak managed to advance, we must admit — broke that up. So, in the books it goes as an F7 and then a separate 2-4 putout. Still, it just shows Laueano’s incredible defensive abilities, both with the leather and with that cannon he has for an arm.

An arm that, this play not withstanding, gets him plenty of assists. Indeed, he has has five assists this season already and has 14 assists in just 70 games, which is a lot. To put it in perspective, it usually takes somewhere between 12-18 to lead the league in a full season with 20 being an outlier of sorts, only seen once every five years or so.

So, if you’re gonna hit it to center against the A’s, make sure you hit it all the way out. And if Laureano gets to it, for god’s sake, don’t run on him.