Sunday afternoon saw the terrible Toronto Blue Jays lose again (commentary intended, this team won the winter but has been horrid in the summer) 4-3 to the Tampa Bay Rays. Since the Jays’ 11 game winning streak they have gone a putrid 7-16. Yikes. There was fun to be had at Rogers Centre though as Carlos Delgado was inducted into the Jays Level of Excellence in a pre-game ceremony.
Since Toronto won back-to-back World Series titles in 1992 and 1993 there has been very little to like about the Jays, but Delgado was outstanding for the team from 1996 through 2004. His MLB career started prior to ’94 and ended after ’04, but those nine seasons in the T-Dot were massive for Delgado. During that stretch he averaged 36 home runs and 114 runs batted in. Wow.
He was only a two-time All-Star for Toronto because he played in the era of other first-baseman like Mark McGwire, Mo Vaughn, Jim Thome, and Frank Thomas (amongst others), but to be honest he should have been honored as an All-Star many more times. From ’96-’04 Delgado finished in the top dozen for American League MVP voting three times and came this close to taking the award in 2003 when he barely lost to (then) Texas Rangers star Alex Rodriguez.
As a Jay Delgado amassed 1,413 hits in 1,423 games with 336 dingers and 1,058 RBI. He hit .292 with an on-base percentage of .392 for the Jays too. Wow. I believe greatness is measured over time, and Delgado’s production surely stood the test of time and longevity to be considered great. This is the ninth season since Delgado and the Jays parted ways, yet he still owns 15 club records, five single-season club records, and his four home run game vs these same Rays in 2003 is the best single-game in club history (of course it was the Devil Rays back then).
The best offense in team history was the 1999 version, and Delgado was the clean-up hitter for that group. It’s easy to see how this guy is uber worthy of entering the Level of Excellence alongside other Jay legends like Robbie Alomar, Dave Stieb, Joe Carter, Tony Fernandez, and George Bell (my all-time fave Jay!).
The Jays did not do a lot of winning in Delgado’s era, but he was often the brightest light on the team and was the face of the franchise for some time. It was easy to cheer for the catcher turned left fielder turned first-baseman because he could mash the baseball and had a lot of fun playing the game we all enjoy.