Blue Jays Flashback: Carlos Delgado

You’d be forgiven for thinking that every player to feature in our Blue Jays Flashback series has had things their own way the entire career. That simply hasn’t been the case for Carlos Delgado, as Kevin Glew explains.

Carlos Delgado

The baseball Gods have never truly smiled upon Carlos Delgado.

His 473 clean major league home runs seem ordinary compared to the quantities belted by steroid abusers from his era.


The longtime Toronto Blue Jays slugger was the runner-up in the 2003 American League MVP voting to Alex Rodriguez, who later confessed to using steroids that season.

And surely someone who owns the 30th best slugging percentage (.546) in major league history deserved better than two All-Star selections, being low-balled out of Toronto by J.P. Ricciardi and being dropped from the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s writers’ ballot after his first year of eligibility.

And to add insult to injury, if you ask Blue Jays fans today who the greatest hitter in franchise history is, a surprising number will respond with someone other than Delgado (I know because I’ve posed the question on social media before).

This despite the fact that Delgado owns franchise records in home runs (336), RBIs (1,058), total bases (2,786), extra-base hits (690), slugging percentage (.556) and on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) (.949).

“It’s a crying shame because he was playing in an era when guys were cheating. And he was throwing up the same numbers they were throwing up,” said Carlos Tosca, who was Delgado’s Blue Jays manager for parts of three seasons, about the lack of recognition for the slugger.

Tosca also feels the fact that Delgado never played on a postseason team with the Blue Jays has hurt the slugger.

To be clear, Delgado’s accomplishments haven’t been completely forgotten. His name was added to the Blue Jays’ Level of Excellence in 2013 and two years later, he was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.

But for someone who, in my mind, is so clearly the greatest all-around hitter in Blue Jays’ history, Delgado doesn’t receive nearly the praise he deserves.

Born in 1972 in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, Delgado was signed as an amateur free agent by the Blue Jays in 1988.

The left-handed hitting slugger became a regular with the Blue Jays in 1996 and starred with the club for the next nine seasons. During that stretch, he had eight consecutive, 30-home run campaigns, won three Silver Slugger Awards, a Hank Aaron Award (2000) and was named The Sporting News Major League Player of the Year (2000).

In 2003, he topped the American League in RBIs (145) and OPS (1.019). On September 25th of that year, he also became the first Blue Jay – and just the 15th player in major league history – to belt four home runs in a game when he did so against the Tampa Bay Rays at the Rogers Centre.

“To this day, that’s the most amazing thing I’ve seen on a baseball field,” said Tosca.

Former Blue Jays reliever Bob File was also at the Rogers Centre that day.

“I feel like Carlos got overlooked by the national media in the U.S.,” said File. “I don’t think he got as much appreciation as he should have. I mean, he hit four home runs in one game. It was one of the most incredible things ever and I felt like it was hardly talked about.”

File also remembers how diligently Delgado prepared for each at bat.

“He had this stack of notebooks and he would write down every sequence of pitches he faced from every pitcher,” said File. “He would just write it all down and he would have a book for every series and every team. He was way ahead of the curve in terms of the analytical game. He was always studying. He was a great player already with great talent, but to do that on top of it, it just added to what he could bring to the table.”

After leaving the Blue Jays following the 2004 season, Delgado extended his string of consecutive 30-home run seasons to 10 with the Florida Marlins and New York Mets.

In all Delgado played 17 major league seasons and he ranks in the top 50 in several all-time offensive categories, including the aforementioned slugging percentage (30th), home runs (34th), extra base hits (44th) and OPS (43rd).

And though he never led the Blue Jays into the playoffs, he excelled in his only postseason appearance with the Mets, hitting .351 with four homers in 10 games in 2006.

Despite all of this, Delgado failed to garner the five percent necessary to stay on the writers’ ballot in his first year of National Baseball Hall of Fame eligibility, so his Cooperstown fate will now reside in the hands of the museum’s Contemporary Era Players Veterans Committee which doesn’t meet again until December 2025.

“I just think Carlos is a no doubt Hall of Famer,” said File, adding he feels Delgado’s talents are on par with Albert Pujols whom File played with in the Cardinals’ organization in 2005.

I agree with File.

So, let’s hope the baseball Gods finally smile upon Delgado when the Veterans Committee meets in two years’ time.



Are you a fan of Blue Jays nostalgia? Then our series is made for you with the likes of Fred McGriff, Ernie Whitt, Tom Henke and Jesse Barfield all featuring so far.