With all the recent talk in the media about Roger Clemens possibly using Steroids in 1998, while being Jose Canseco’s teammate—I had somewhat of an epiphany. I don’t know how I didn’t see it sooner but it’s very clear now. Carlos Delgado, and most definitely Shawn Green had the privilege of being in the same clubhouse as Jose Canseco, if you know what I mean.
First of all, let’s look at Spring Training in 1998. At that point in his career, Jose had not played a full season since 1991, when he hit 44 home runs while being perhaps the most hated player in Oakland. By the ’98 season Jose had suffered one injury after another, been traded a couple of times, and ultimately lost his “mojo” not once, but twice. The first came when a ball bounced off his head for a home run and the second came when he was brought in as a relief pitcher for Texas and he blew his arm out. I did not expect much from Jose in a Blue Jays uniform, but once again the man shocked the hell out of me.
By the end of the season Jose put up M.V.P numbers, while playing most of the season in the outfield for the first time in a long time. He had a career-high 46 home runs, and somehow stole 29 bags. What is more interesting is what he said in many interviews about taking Shawn Green “under his wings”. By the end of the season, Green had 35 home runs and 35 stolen bases. Green’s previous highs were 16 home runs and 14 stolen bases. In the next four seasons Green became a monster slugger and had three 40+ home run seasons, including 49 in 2001. Then, from 2003 to 2006 the man played full-time and hit no more than 28 home runs and didn’t even crack 20 twice! His first non-Canseco season came in 2003, when baseball first began testing for Steroids. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Where did all his power go?
Carlos Delgado also had a career year in 1998, while playing alongside Jose. Unlike Green, Delgado already had shown power before playing with Jose but he still had a career-high 38 home runs that year. Also unlike Green, Carlos kept up the big numbers throughout his career and didn’t slow down until 2007 when he hit just 24 but kept his average at .333.
So how do you explain 1998? Was Jose such a strong clubhouse force that whoever he played with ended up becoming home run legends? Juan Gonzalez, Rafael Palmeiro, Mo Vaughn, Magglio Ordonez, Shawn Green, & Carlos Delgado all had career-years and all-time personal best in home runs the very same year Jose joined the team. The numbers don’t lie, unfortunately, the players do.