September 09, 2008

Delgado Deserving of MVP Consideration


By Aaron Schuldiner

“Delgado is a rally killer 90% of the time”

“The offense has one glaring hole (Delgado)”

“Delgado is just finished. Time to just bench or release. Heck trade him and pay his salary. I don’t care!”

“jeez, I can’t take Delgado anymore. Any chance we bring up Ike Davis like right now? LOL.”

“There has to be somebody somewhere better than Delgado. Is it worth carrying a $15M+ player to hold down a whole team?”

“I really don’t think we are going to score on this guy, especially with the likes of Delgado in the lineup.”

“DELGADO IS DONE.”

After Carlos Delgado’s 2 HR, 4 RBI performance in Sunday night’s win over the Phillies, I thought it might be interesting to revisit just how far Delgado had fallen out of favor among fans before his resurgence. The above quotes were posted in June to the message boards on the Mets’ official website. There were plenty of other comments that I chose not to list, some because they were borderline obscene, some because they were downright cruel, but most because there’s just not enough space on this page for all the venom that was spewed in Delgado’s direction. And to be fair, I agreed with the general consensus that Delgado was in fact “DONE.”

To see how far Delgado’s stock has risen, you first need to understand how far his star had fallen. This is a man who, not that long ago, was booed mercilessly by the Shea faithful from the moment he entered the on-deck circle until he returned to the dugout. Without actually looking back to see the vultures circling, it’s hard to appreciate his resurrection. It’s a remarkable story on the 2008 MLB landscape, and it’s relevant because I believe, with as much objectivity as I am capable of bringing to any Mets-related discussion, that Carlos Delgado is legitimately deserving of MVP consideration.

At the end of June, the Mets found themselves in 3rd place in the NL East, with more losses than wins. Carlos Delgado was batting a paltry .228, with 14 homeruns and 45 RBI, and was on the verge of being run out of town. The stretch that has followed has been nothing short of remarkable, and could become legendary if Delgado keeps hitting and the Mets keep winning. Since July 1, the Mets are 39-21, having taken over first place in the division, and Delgado is batting .305 with a plethora of clutch hits for a team that is constantly battling the stigma of being unable to hit in big spots. His 55 RBI over that span lead the National League, and his 19 HR are second only to Ryan Howard’s 20.

It’s unbelievable to think that Delgado is one October run away from securing a place in Mets immortality, but the idea is not farfetched. Yes, the Mets would have to make a run deep into October, and yes, they will have to fight off a feisty Phillies team just to make the playoffs. Nevertheless, if this team makes noise in the postseason, history will look back on them as the team that Delgado resurrected. Sure, the managerial change was a huge story. Sure, they have gotten big contributions from unlikely sources such as Fernando Tatis and Daniel Murphy. And sure, Johan Santana has pitched like the ace everyone billed him to be, and Mike Pelfrey has exceeded all expectations. But even with all those factors accounted for, I shudder to think where this team would be if Delgado never found his swing.

David Wright’s overall numbers have earned him MVP consideration, but those who see the Mets night in and night out know where Wright’s credentials fall short. The truth of the matter is that Wright has made a habit of leaving runners on base this season, especially with the money on the line. With two outs and runners in scoring position, Wright is batting just .224 with a slugging percentage of .403. In the same situation, Delgado is batting .266 and slugging a gaudy .594. No Met has gotten more big hits in 2008 than Carlos Delgado.

It begs the question, why Wright and not Delgado? The simple fact is that the MVP balloting is inherently flawed, in that you’re asking writers to vote on players that they don’t see often enough to judge. If you don’t watch the Mets every day, you haven’t seen how Delgado has been the life force of this team, slamming big hit after big hit, while Wright has often struggled in the clutch. I should point out that my purpose is not to condemn Wright. Overall, Wright is having a nice year, a good year, but not an MVP year. I should also point out that my purpose isn’t to condemn the MVP voters. It would be unfair, and unrealistic, to expect the beat writer in Anytown, USA, to follow the highs and lows of every player in baseball with a magnifying glass. My biggest issue with the voters is that there is a ‘popularity contest’ element to the award, an atmosphere in which a player’s status with the Baseball Tonight crew sometimes trumps the totality of his performance. Case in point, I wonder how many votes Carlos would already have locked up if his last name was Beltran rather than Delgado.

What is undeniable is that the Mets would not be where they are without Delgado. In September of what has been a tight divisional race, the Mets would undoubtedly be on the outside looking in right now if not for Delgado’s heroics. If a player’s ‘value’ can be measured by drawing a parallel between his success and the success of his team, then who is more valuable than Delgado? If you’re having as much trouble as I did answering that question, I think our collective silence speaks volumes as to Delgado’s merits.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I just found a thread from June explaining why the Mets should make a move to replace Delgado with Scott Hatteberg. Imagine that. On second thought, don’t.

Editor's Note - From David
: It seems like Delgado has had 2 seasons in one, just like the Mets (w/Willie vs. w/Jerry). I know that the "comeback of the year" award usually refers to a season-over-season award, but if ever anyone deserved 2 awards (MVP & Comeback) it would be Delgado! Jose has had another great season, and Wright has been consistent but not spectacular; Delgado has been timely and the shot in the arm that the team needed. And WHO would have thuoght we'd be having this conversation back in June?? That's why they play the whole season, boys and girls...because this is further proof that anything can happen in baseball!!

1 comment:

TheDarkRayKnight said...

as hot as delgado has been, i don’t think he’s a serious MVP candidate. in the beginning of the year when he was awful and everyone on the FAN wanted to run him out of town, we were still in the mix for first place. without delgado, the mets are still a serious contender.
if you take ryan braun off the brewers, there’s no way they are even close to being a playoff team.