Just read a fantastic article by Tom Verducci (yes, that Ton Verducci) on SI.com about Carlos Delgado.
Verducci does a great job of pointing out Delgado’s accomplishments in the tainted era we all now refer to as the steroids era. He establishes this era as being from 1996 through 2003.
I define the heart of the Steroid Era as beginning in 1996, when Ken Caminiti won the MVP on steroids and the first full season in which performance-enhancers became rampant, through 2003, the last time players were free to shoot up with anything they wished without any penalty. (Of course, the drugs have been around before and since, but 1996-2003 strikes me as the height of use.)
He looks at all the prolific homerun hitters during that time period and finds that the only hitter in the top ten that has not been tainted with steroids rumors or allegations is Carlos Delgado. He feels that Delgado’s efforts have gone widely unnoticed and unappreciated.
When I ran down the list, Mets first baseman Carlos Delgado stood out as the guy most pushed into the shadows. This season, be it anything close to ordinary for him, Delgado will become only the 11th player in baseball history with 500 home runs, 500 doubles and 1,500 RBIs. It is a club with no back door. The others: Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Frank Robinson, Eddie Murray, Griffey, Ramirez, Palmeiro and Bonds. And yet Delgado never is talked about as a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and is rarely discussed as a Hall of Famer at all. He started only one All-Star game (and made only one other, while a juiced Giambi started three), never won an MVP award (he was robbed of one by a juiced Rodriguez) and never won a home-run title (he once finished second to a juiced Rodriguez), even though he hit between 38 and 44 home runs seven times.
The article is speckled with various quotes from Delgado on his career, steroids, the Hall of Fame and his place in the game.
He concludes with this,
The more we find out about the heart of the Steroid Era, the more polish accrues to the career of Delgado, a man who, so far, has not been connected, even on the clubhouse rumor network, to illegal drugs, a ballplayer not afraid to call steroid use “cheating.”
It’s good to see a positive article like this on Delgado, who really has had a remarkable career when you think about it. If all the known cheaters were removed from the equation (something that will never happen) Delgado would have gone down as one of the greatest players in this generation.