Webster's defines excellence as having the quality of being very good for its kind. In baseball terms, having 20+ stolen bases in a year is excellent, as is 90+ runs, or 90+ RBI, or 50+ extra base hits, or an OPS of .850 or higher.
A field of excellence implies a wider area or division, encompassing a greater scope. You could consider all of the criteria listed above a kind of field of excellence.
To satisfy all of those criteria in a single baseball season would have to be considered an achievement in the field of excellence. You would need to be a baseball player of skills both broad and profound.
There have been 254 such 'achievement in the field of excellence' seasons in Major League Baseball history.
To do such a thing several years in a row would take you beyond the measure of mere achievement. To meet this mark for four consecutive seasons would truly be an outstanding achievement in the field of excellence.
And thus we arrive at the concept of the Edward J. Delahanty Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence."Big Ed" Delahanty was the first man to manage this level of production for 4+ seasons in a row (he actually did it five years in a row), back in the late 19th century when he was terrorizing opposing pitchers to the tune of a 1051 OPS (172 OPS+) from 1893-1897. In that period he averaged 41 2B, 16 3B, and 10 HR a season, with 33 SB per year. So it is in his honor that the award is named.
Since Big Ed stepped off the world stage, stepping off of the International Bridge and Niagara Falls in the process, the Edward J. Delahanty Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence has only been earned four times. In each case, the player was not able to meet all of the standards for the fifth year, so Delahanty remains the only man to accomplish this in 5+ consecutive years.
Name the winners of the Big Ed Award, and the years they accomplished their feat.
1. Barry Bonds, 1990-1993
2. Barry Bonds, 1995-1998
3. Willie Mays, 1957-1960
4. Bobby Abreu, 2003-2006