Immediately after Johan Santana was acquired in February 2008, I made the bold statement that the “key” to the Mets’ season would be Carlos Delgado. Since the Mets started winning when Delgado began heating up, it seemed to me that the big man’s bat and health would be the key again in 2009.
Maybe it was just a coincidence, but the Mets’ fortunes seem to have paralleled the performance — and availability — of Carlos Delgado. His presence in the cleanup spot took the pressure off Carlos Beltran, gave protection to David Wright, and created a speed bump in the lineup where opposing pitchers had to slow down and proceed cautiously.
Delgado appeared in only 26 games in 2009, hitting .298 with 4 HR and 23 RBI and a .393 OBP in 112 at-bats. When he went on the DL, the Mets were 17-13 and in first place. From then on it was all downhill — into the dung pile.
In the games Delgado played, the Mets were 15-11. In those 15 wins, Delgado hit .382 with a .485 OBP, 3 HR, 16 RBI, and 12 runs. In the 11 losses, Delgado hit .179 with a .250 OBP, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 3 runs.
Similarly, in the 86 wins in which Delgado participated in 2008, he hit .304 with a .396 OBP, 28 HR, 84 RBI. In the 73 losses he hit .232 with a .298 OBP, 10 HR, and 31 RBI.
Before you read too much into this stark contrast in stats, the truth is, there are very similar trends with David Wright, Carlos Beltran, and most other players. Teams tend to lose when their players don’t hit well, strangely enough. But I wanted to make clear that when Delgado was anchoring the middle of the lineup, and hitting, the Mets usually did well.
Considering that Delgado is coming off major hip surgery and will be 38 years old next June, it’s unlikely we’ll see him in a Mets uniform again. He made $12M to rehab in 2009, and will likely find an incentive-laden deal to be a DH with an American League club this winter (Angels? Rangers? A’s?). Even though there is a good chance he’ll return to being at least a 25-HR, 85-RBI guy in the middle of someone’s lineup, it’s time for the Mets to move on — for so many reasons.
What should be learned, however, is the Mets need to find another Delgado-like presence this winter — at minimum. They were one slugger short WITH Delgado going into the 2009 season, so the shopping list should include at least two power bats when the Mets enter the offseason market.
About the Author
Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers.