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Entries in Delmon Young (2)


Delmon Young Shouldn't Be Your Tiger

After the Detroit Tigers picked up Delmon Young from the Minnesota Twins in a mid-August deal, he popped eight regular-season home runs and added five more in the playoffs as his new club reached the ALCS. That late-season power surge and Young's relative youth (he turned 26 in September) apparently has GM Dave Dombrowski willing to bring back the first overall pick in the '03 draft to be Detroit's regular left fielder in 2012.

Young, arbitration-eligible for the final time this winter, made about $5.4 million last year. MLBTradeRumors' Matt Swartz projects that the left fielder will pull down $6.3 million in 2012. Should the Tigers pay that sum and make Young an everyday player? In a word, no. Motor City power binge aside, Young remains the same hacking, platoon-worthy hitter who frustrated the Rays and Twins to no end.

Limited by oblique and ankle injuries with Minnesota, Young slugged just .357 and hit four home runs in 325 plate appearances. He increased his slugging percentage to .458 as a Tiger, but he remained a marginal hitter overall because of his famously lousy plate discipline. Young’s walk rate actually fell from 5.5 percent with the Twins to 2.8 percent with the Tigers, and his on-base percentage dropped from .305 to .298. Check out his swing rate by pitch location with each team. Changing unis certainly didn’t change his hitting approach:

Young's swing rate by pitch location with Twins, 2011

Young swing rate by pitch location with Tigers, 2011  

Young went after 39.4 percent of pitches thrown off the plate as a Twin. In Detroit, he chased 39.3 percent of out-of-zone pitches.

Due to the lower OBP, Young’s OPS+ with Detroit was just slightly above average, at 103. Even during his ballyhooed playoff run, his OBP was just .278. Considering that he’s a plodder defensively – Fangraphs’ Ultimate Zone Rating shows that he has been the worst left fielder among qualified players over the past three seasons -- and he's only a threat against left-handed pitching (.307/.343/.479 career versus lefties, .280/.312/.407 against righties), Young shouldn't be your Tiger.

Detroit figures to be highly competitive again next season, but giving regular outfield ABs and playing $6+ million to a glorified platoon DH would only help their AL Central foes make up ground.


Twins and Young Agree to Deal

Delmon young avoided arbitration by agreeing to a $5.375 million contract with the Minnesota Twins. Was this a good deal for the Twins?

Young was the 4th most valuable hitter on the Twins last year in terms of weighted on-base average, 2nd most valuable behind Joe Mauer if you leave Justin Morneau and Jim Thome off the list for only having 340 PA each. Young also hit .318/.370/.582 versus lefties last year which put him in the 92nd percentile in all of baseball.

Young’s biggest issue is his proclivity to swing at nearly every pitch. He ranked in the top 1% of all players in swing percentage last season, among company like Jeff Francoeur and Vladimir Guerrero. He still managed a .333 OBP that, while not great, still ranked in the top half of the majors last season among all players with at least 300 PA. However, with only a 4.5% walk rate (19th worst in all of baseball last year), that OBP is likely not going to improve unless Young starts taking pitches more.

At age 25, it’s not too late for him to make some significant changes to his approach at the plate. Should he become even just a little more selective this year, that $5.375 million could turn out to be a steal for the Twins.