Jun 26, 2016

2006 NL Eastern Champion Mets First Baseman: Carlos Delgado (2006-2009)

Carlos Juan Delgado was born in Puerto Rico on June 25, 1972. The New York Mets showed interest in him in high school but he chose to sign with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1988.

He was only 17 at the time and spent his minor league career as a catcher making frequent All Star appearances at all minor league levels. He was the 1993 Southern League MVP at AAA Knoxville hitting 25 HRs with 102 RBIs & a .430 on base %.
He made his MLB debut as a catcher, with the 1993 World Series Champion Blue Jays, playing in the last two games of the regular season. 

In 1994 he converted from catcher becoming the Blue Jays regular left fielder. He received attention when he hit 9 HRs in just 130 at bats, but after a great April was sent down to AAA Syracuse to fine tune his hitting .

By 1996 he became an everyday player & became one of the best power hitters in the AL over the next decade. He is only one of four players to hit over 30 HRs in ten straight seasons, (including hitting 40 or more three times).

He also drove in over 90 runs in each season over the next decade (including over 100 RBIs six years in a row). He won three Silver Slugger Awards, played in two All Star games & led the majors in RBIs in 2003 with 145.

In 2000 he led the league with 57 doubles and played every game of that season & the next. He caused controversy while in Toronto for not standing up during the 7TH inning stretch's singing of God Bless America. He stated it was in protest to the testing of U.S. missiles in his native Puerto Rico, country. 

As a Blue Jay he also developed a close friendship with team mate Sean Green, whom he would later help lure to the New York Mets.

Eventually the Blue Jays didn’t have the money to sign him when he became a free agent. He was heavily sought after and it came down to the Mets or Florida Marlins. He chose Florida for the 2005 season & let down many excited Met fans who's team had just signed Pedro Martinez & Carlos Beltran.

In Florida Delgado hit 33 HRs with 41 doubles 115 RBIs & batted .301. But after that season, Florida also needed to cut payroll & sold off all their top players. The New York Mets finally got him, as he was traded to New York for Mike Jacobs & Yusmeiro Petit in November 2005. When joining the Mets he was asked to stand during the National Anthem & the singing of God Bless America which he agreed to do. He immediately made an impact as the Mets, put in as their cleanup hitter and first baseman.

He debuted on Opening Day going hitless but then homered in his next two games driving in runs in the next three games.

In his first month as a Met in April 2006, he hit 9 HRs with 21 RBIs easily winning over the Shea fans. On May 3rd, he hit a walk off HR against Mike Gonzales & the Pittsburgh Pirates for a 4-3 Mets win. On May 24th he hit a three run HR off Aaron Small in the bottom of the 4th inning in the subway series at Shea Stadium, leading the Mets to a 4-1 victory. Delgado had also hit a HR the day before.

Delgado went on a tear from June 5th through June 14th driving in runs in seven straight games. In three of those games he drove in three runs each time. He began June batting .245 but raised his average twenty two points in the month, as he drove in 21 runs with seven HRs.

In July he had another stretch of five straight games with an RBI after the All Star break..

On August 17th Delgado hit a pair of HRs driving in four runs in the Mets 7-2 win. Delgado went on another hot streak, driving in at least one run in five straight games, ten of eleven. On August 22nd, he had a big day, hitting two HRs with five RBIs against the St. Louis Cardinals at Shea Stadium, leading New York to an 8-7 win.

He was on another tear at the end of August, hitting six HRs during the last ten days of the month, driving in 19 runs. As the season came to a close, Delgado drove in 19 runs in September as the Mets clinched the N.L. Eastern title. He finished the year with 38 HRs (8th in the NL) with 114 RBIs (5th in the NL) 30 doubles & batted .265. Delgado was always seen keeping a notebook on all the pitchers he faced after at bats in the dugout. He was a good student of hitting & very knowledgeable of the game.

Post Season: He tore up the Los Angeles Dodgers staff in the NLDS, batting .429 (6-14). In Game #1 he had four hits & put the Mets on the board tying the game 1-1 with a HR off Derek Lowe. He then had one hit in each of the next two games.

In the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals he hit over .300 going 7-23 with three HRs nine RBIs & a .448 on base %. In the opener he started out the series with two hits.

In Game #2 he hit a three run HR off Chris Carpenter putting the Mets up 3-0. He hit a second HR in the 5th inning a solo shot also off Carpenter. The Mets went on to win the game 9-6 with Delgado driving in four runs. He hit another HR in Game #4 along with David Wright & Carlos Beltran (who hit two) in the Mets 12-5 romp at St. Louis.

In 2007 he opened the year with a double driving in two runs on Opening Day, in the Mets 6-1 win over the reigning champion St. Louis Cardinals. But he struggled from there not hitting his first HR until April 23rd, when he finally had got over the .200 mark. On May 9th he hit a HR at San Francisco into McCovey Cove & became the first visiting player to hit three HRs into the cove.

Later that May, Delgado had three walk off game winning RBIs for the Mets, two coming against the Chicago Cubs in the same series. On May 14th a bases loaded walk from Chicago pitcher Michael Wuertz gave the Mets a 5-4 win. Three days later a base hit scored both; the tying & winning runs in a 6-5 Mets victory. 

In a May 26th game at Florida Delgado hit two HRs & drove in five runs helping the Mets to a 7-2 win & series sweep of the Marlins. On July 5th he had four hit day, and went on a nine game hit streak later in the month, while driving in 15 runs with 5 HRs.

In August he drove in 19 runs but hit just three HRs, ending the month on a seven game hit streak. On September 4th he went down with an injury & missed the next two weeks of action as the Mets lead began to fade away. The Mets were eliminated from the post season on the last day of the season after a terrible collapse. To make matters worse he was injured when he was hit on the hand with a pitch from Florida's Dontrell Willis.

Delgado's numbers dropped off from the previous year, hitting 24 HRs with 30 doubles 87 RBIs a .333 on base % and a .258 average. The struggles continued into 2008 and everyone thought he was done early on. The media blasted him, the fans booed him and wanted him traded. He injured his hip but remained on the roster and couldn’t get his swing back.

Teams would align a shift to the right side of the infield due to him being a dead pull hitter, this didn’t help his hitting. He struggled hitting under .200 in May but broke out at an inter league game in June at the A.L. New York’s team ballpark.


That day he set a Mets club record by driving in nine runs in a single game. In the 5th inning his double down the right field line scored Luis Castillo & Carlos Beltran. Later in the 6th inning he blasted a grand slam HR off Latroy Hawkins to deep right center field putting the Mets ahead 11-4. In the 8th inning he hit a three run HR off Ross Ohlendorf to put the score at 15-5, topping off his record setting day.

He took off from there & when Willie Randolph was fired as manager, he went on a tear under new skipper Jerry Manuel. In the last two weeks of July he hit seven HRs eight multi RBI games, driving in 19 runs in that stretch. On August 21st he had a five hit day in agame against the Atlanta Braves.

On August 25th he hit two HRs while driving in six runs in a 9-1 Mets win over the Astros at Shea Stadium. Delgado carried the Mets through the summer keeping them in first place & in contention until the last day of the season.

He had 65 RBIs in a 65 game stretch from June until September; tying Dave Kingman’s record for multi HR games (7) and got his 2000th career hit on Sept. 21st.

In the last game ever played at Shea Stadium, he had one hit & almost tied the game in the bottom of the 8th inning with a dep line drive shot to left field. He ended up third in the league in both HRs (38) (most on the Mets club) & RBIs (115). He hit 32 doubles & ended up batting .271, but also led the team in strikeouts for the third straight year. He ended up playing in 159 games once his injuries were finally all healed. He did so well Mets exercised his 12 million dollar option for 2009.

In 2009 he started out well, he became the first player to hit a HR in the Pepsi Porch at the Mets new home; Citi Field. After 26 games he was batting .298 with 4 HRs & 23 RBIs, and then he developed a bone spur and a torn labrum in his hip.

On May 19th he underwent successful surgery on his hip and was scheduled to be out until the end of July. That never worked out, setbacks ended his season & his career. After the 2009 season, no team sought him out as a free agent with concerns about his health after three hip surgeries.

Retirement: In a career that may possibly put him in the Hall of Fame Carlos played in 2035 games over 17 seasons, batting .280 with 473 HRs (31st all time) 483 doubles (74th all time) 1512 RBIs (51st all time) 974 extra base hits (41st all time) 1109 base on balls (74th all time) posting a.383 on base % (147th all time). He struck out 1745 times (23rd most all time) & was walked 188 times intentionally (21st all time).

At first base he played in 1767 games (38th all time) committing 129 errors (76th all time) with 15,144 put outs (43rd all time). 

Trivia: Delgado has hit the most HRs & driven in the most RBIs of any Puerto Rican ball player.

He was always known for doing a lot of charity work, especially in children’s hospitals and won the 2006 Roberto Clemente award for his services.

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