New York Mets April Player To Watch: Carlos Delgado

Ira LiemanContributor IApril 10, 2009

CINCINNATI - APRIL 09: Carlos Delgado #21 of the New York Mets is pictured during the game between the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on April 9, 2009 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

As Carlos Delgado goes in April, so will the Mets. Delgado must show he can play to the back of his baseball card in order for the Mets to come out strong. During his three years in New York, he's been considered a slow starter.

For his career, Delgado posts a .927 OPS in the first month of the season, meaning 2007 (.522) and 2008 (.620) have been huge aberrations.

The Mets went 15-9 in Delgado's first month as a Met (Mar./Apr. 2007). However, the pitching was bordering on phenomenal, and four hitters had All-Star-caliber offensive months, led by Beltran's 1.076 OPS and Reyes' 26 runs scored. Delgado was one of the Major Leagues' laggards in all the usual averages for the month, managing only 25 total bases in 96 at-bats.

If Delgado hit better, the Mets may have managed to jump out to a huge April lead in the NL East, as they lost three of those games by two runs or less. And as we all remember, the Mets lost their division by just one game.

Delgado had suffered injuries to his wrist and hand at the end of 2007, and his 2008 season began quite poorly, as he was still suffering some lingering effects. The whole team was inconsistent offensively in April (and May, for that matter).

Jerry Manuel took over the managerial reins at roughly the same time Delgado began heating up at the plate. I'll chalk that up to a coincidence.

With three games played so far in 2009, Delgado seems to be showing he's on the right track, with five hits in 12 at bats so far. As a veteran presence with an All-Star resume, a productive Delgado will be emulated by some of the younger hitters on the Mets. And if that's going to happen, the Mets offense will be exciting to watch.