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 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.