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August 18, 2000

The Daily Prospectus

Carlos Delgado

by Joe Sheehan

One of the many benefits of Rany Jazayerli beginning his residency is that I no longer get daily e-mails bemoaning the use of Rey Sanchez in the two-hole or contemplating a world in which he actually liked the Royals' manager.

On the other hand, he doesn't have as much time anymore to pepper me with the kind of interesting, fun stuff that actually makes up for his being a Royals' fan. Every now and then, though, the good doctor sends some good material my way:

Before I leave town for the weekend, I thought I'd point this out, since I
haven't heard or read anything about the topic at all:

Regarding Carlos Delgado:

AVG: .360, 2nd (leader: Nomar Garciaparra, .375) HR: 35, 2nd (leader: Frank Thomas, 37) RBI: 110, 3rd (leader: Edgar Martinez, 116)

Garciaparra's slump--his average has dropped 15 points in a week--has opened the door to at least consider the possibility of the first Triple Crown since 1967. Two homers and six RBIs are a good day for Delgado, leaving only batting average, where it would be tough to make up that kind of deficit without some help from Nomar.

But if Nomar slides another 10 points, this could be a very interesting topic come September 1st.

I would also point out that Delgado's OBP is .489 or so. Since Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle cleared .500 in 1957, the highest single-season OBP is .494 by Frank Thomas in 1994, then .488 by Norm Cash in 1961 and Mantle in 1962. If you add sacrifice flies to the equation, as MLB does, then Thomas's OBP drops to .4874, just ahead of Cash's .4866.

Also, Delgado already has 80 extra-base hits. The Jays have played 122 games? He has an excellent chance of making the top three all time; Babe Ruth had 119 in 1921 and Lou Gehrig had 117 in 1927, but Chuck Klein is in third with 107 in 1930.

So, Carlos Delgado is good. Everyone got that? Have a great weekend.

OK, seriously, this is the first mention I've seen of Delgado as a Triple Crown candidate, and it's a fairly solid case. Rany thinks that the BA will be the toughest nut to crack, but I think it will be RBI. Delgado has been helped by Alex Gonzalez's hot streak, but he's almost certain to have fewer opportunities to drive in runs than Edgar Martinez and Frank Thomas, both of whom hit behind better players than Gonzalez and Dave Martinez.

Still, he's the first serious candidate I can think of this late in the year since Gary Sheffield in 1992. Should Garciaparra's recent slump continue to drive his average down, and should Gonzalez and Shannon Stewart get on base a lot over the next six weeks, Delgado's chance at history gets a whole lot better.

Joe Sheehan can be reached at jsheehan@baseballprospectus.com.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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