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« Thome Reaches 600 HR Club | Main | Grounding Youkilis »

Delmon Young Takes Disappointing Act to Detroit

In the eight years since the then-Tampa Bay Devil Rays made him the first overall pick in the MLB draft, Delmon Young has devolved from franchise cornerstone to principal player in a Tampa/Minnesota challenge trade to a giant disappointment shipped to a division rival for a song. The Twins dealt the soon-to-be-26-year-old to Detroit yesterday for minor league lefty Cole Nelson and a player to be named later.

Young immediately made the Twins pay, popping a home run for the Tigers in the first inning of Monday's game at Comerica Park, but power displays from the outfielder once compared to Albert Belle have all but disappeared in 2011. While he remained a hacker last season, the 6-foot-3, 200-plus pound righty hitter belted 21 home runs while batting .298/.333/.493. Instead of building on that success, Young has hit just five homers this year and has a .269/.309/.369 line while serving separate DL stints for an oblique strain and a sprained ankle.

His strike zone is still Great Lakes-sized...

Young's swing rate by pitch location, 2011

League average swing rate by pitch location, 2011

Young has chased about 40 percent of pitches thrown off the plate, which is up from last year's already-high 37 percent and blows away (in a bad way) the 28 percent league average. But you already know that he's a free-swinger. What's more interesting is that while Young bashed out-of-zone pitches thrown low-and-inside last year, he doing nothing with them in 2011:

Young's in-play slugging percentage by location, 2010      Young's in-play slugging percentage by location, 2011 Maybe Young's power outage this year is mostly the result of his injuries. And it's hard to fault Detroit for adding him for a small cost that carries no long-term commitment (Young is under team control through 2012, and considering his $5.375 million salary this year, he's a prime non-tender candidate). Given how poorly a hobbled, 37-year-old Magglio Ordonez has hit (.228/.283/.299), Young could actually help the Tigers' offense a bit if Mags sits and Young platoons with Andy Dirks in a corner spot. Still, given the value position players drafted first overall typically provide, that's awfully faint praise.

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