Have you ever wondered what if would be like if a certain player played in a certain stadium? I have; I do it semi-frequently. For instance, how would a terrific line drive hitter like Pirate Hall of Famer Paul Waner perform in a place that caters to offense, like the Ballpark in Arlington? Or how would a pitcher with incisive control, like Greg Maddux, perform in an outstanding pitcher’s park, like Safeco? Since none of this will ever happen, something that satisfies my curiosity is the notion that great players always adapt to their environment: good pitchers can pitch well in hitter’s parks, and good hitters hit well in pitcher’s parks.
There are two Blue Jays whom I would have loved to see play half their games in Yankee Stadium. One, Fred McGriff, was actually a Yankee prospect at one time and hit some towering home runs when he and the Jays visited Yankee Stadium. The other player is Carlos Delgado. Short porch in right; unlimited left-handed power; fantastic run producer. Holy chicken.
Of course there are innumerable unaccounted-for variables in my fantasy, such as performing in New York, the players whom they would replace (Donny Ballgame, Tino, etc.), and other, more statistically-oriented things. But that’s part of what distinguishes fantasy from reality. It’s strictly a player-strength-in-a-particular-ballpark-related fantasy.
But reality was pretty good, too, and that’s why the Jays will honour Carlos Delgado by adding his name to the Level of Excellence. This is a well-deserved honour for a player who was fantastically productive with the Jays. Carlos’ accomplishments are self-evident, and speak volumes about the player: he’s the all-time franchise leader in most of the important traditional and sabrmetric categories (HR, RBI, SLG, OPS, BB, R, TB, IBB, XBH, DBL, etc.). He was on base regularly (wOBA) and created runs (wRC+) like it was his job (it was): he was everything one hopes for in a first baseman.
Additionally, his reputation as a teammate, competitor, and as a man of integrity is above reproach. In an era filled with suspect performances due to performance enhancers (peds), there are no substantial rumours attached to Carlos Delgado. None. He’s an excellent candidate for such an honour.
The ceremony will take place on July 21, before the Jays play against Tampa Bay. His career numbers against TB were 25 DBL, 32 HR, 86 RBI, 69 BB, .283/.402/.603 in 108 games (albeit against a much weaker Devil Rays team). Perhaps his presence will inspire the Jays to victory once again.