This just in: We owe Carlos Delgado an apology.
Of all the victims of this messed up voting system, he's the biggest. This was his first year on the ballot. And his last.
He showed up on the ballot with his 473 homers and .929 career OPS. And 21 votes later, he was waving adios. It takes 5 percent of the vote to live to see another election. He got 3.8 percent. And that'll be a wrap.
Now it may be true that a guy who falls 391 votes shy of election was probably never going to make it to Cooperstown anyway. But whether he was or wasn't, after looking at this for a couple of days, I've come to this conclusion:
Carlos Delgado is the best player in history to get booted off the Hall of Fame ballot after his first year.
There are some excellent contenders for that honor, too: Lou Whitaker, David Cone, Andres Galarraga, Kevin Brown, Kenny Lofton, etc. But it's incredible to think that a guy couldn't make it to even a second ballot after doing all this:
• Hit 30-plus home runs 10 years in a row
Only seven other eligible players in history have even had nine (or more) 30-homer seasons in a row. Four of them -- Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Mike Schmidt and Eddie Matthews -- are in the Hall of Fame. The other three -- Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro -- all have PED storm clouds hovering over them. But that didn't get any of them sentenced to the one-and-done club. Now did it?
• Have an OPS over .900 for nine years in a row
Only nine other eligible players have ever had an OPS of .900 or better in at least nine consecutive seasons in which they qualified for the batting title. Seven are in the Hall: Gehrig, Foxx, Schmidt, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Stan Musial and Mickey Mantle. The other two are Bonds and Mike Piazza. No need to get into why they're not Hall of Famers. But at least they're still on the ballot.
• Hit 473 home runs
Before Delgado came along, only three members of the 400-Homer Club were ever one-and-done. The guy with the most homers on that list was Jose Canseco (462), the famous author. The other two were Dave Kingman, who hit 442 homers but didn't even finish with an .800 career OPS, and the underrated Darrell Evans (with 414 homers and 2,223 career hits). Evans was clearly in the argument for Best One-and-Done Player Ever before this week. But not anymore.
• Have a .929 career OPS
Only two players in history finished their careers with an OPS over .900 and got whisked off the ballot after one year. One was Mo Vaughn (.906). The other also got the boot this year -- Brian Giles (.902). Giles is another guy who probably belongs in the Best One-and-Done Players of All Time conversation. But neither Giles nor Vaughn was within 20 points -- or 140 homers -- of Delgado.
• Do a Big Papi imitation
Now obviously, there are lots of differences between the careers of Delgado and David Ortiz. But if we stop Ortiz's career clock right this minute, here's how similar their numbers are:
OK, so Big Papi has October going for him, while Delgado made it to the postseason only once (with the '06 Mets -- and hit .351, with an 1.199 OPS). But at least Delgado wore a glove for all 17 seasons. So while it's way too early to forecast where Ortiz's Hall of Fame candidacy will lead, I'd bet the Green Monster it won't be to a first-ballot exit.
It wasn't so long ago that we'd have looked at a player like Carlos Delgado and said: "He's a Hall of Famer." But sadly, thanks to the Rule of 10 and the way we devalue all the numbers in the era he played in, we now have to look at him and say something else:
The one-and-done team
Before we go, time for a couple of our ever-popular Hall election All-Star teams, starting with one in honor of Carlos Delgado -- the All One-and-Done Team:
1B: Carlos Delgado
2B: Lou Whitaker
SS: Tony Fernandez
3B: Matt Williams
LF: Brian Giles
CF: Kenny Lofton
RF: Moises Alou
C: Ted Simmons
DH: Andres Galarraga
Pinch-hit specialist: Julio Franco
Opening Day starter: David Cone
Closer: Jesse Orosco
Beat writer: Jose Canseco
The all I-got-exactly-one-vote-for-the-HOF team
And, finally, a round of applause for Darin Erstad, ladies and gentlemen. He's the latest and greatest player to add himself to the ever-expanding, prestigious list of guys who got exactly one vote for the Hall of Fame.
That may not get him a plaque in upstate New York. But it will get him a spot on the exalted 2015 edition of this one-vote-and-one-vote-only All-Star team. And as always, it's a club any 124-homer man would be honored to join:
1B: George (Boomer) Scott
2B: Bret Boone
SS: Shawon Dunston
3B: Tim Wallach
LF: David Justice
CF: Darin Erstad
RF: Ellis Valentine
C: Darren Daulton
Bullpen: Mark Davis, Armando Benitez, Jesse Orosco, Steve Bedrosian, Bill Campbell
Broadcast team: Mike Krukow, John Kruk, Ron Darling, Jim Deshaies, Ray Knight