Delmon Young: Finally Living up to the Hype

By Tommy Rancel //

If you evaluated the Delmon Young for Matt Garza/Jason Bartlett swap after the 2008 season, the Rays would have won in a landslide. Bartlett was (controversially)
named the team’s most valuable player for the regular season, while
Garza won the franchise’s biggest game ever – Game 7 of the American
League Championship Series. He was also named ALCS MVP.

On the other hand, Young was wrapping up his second full season in
the big leagues. His numbers (.290 AVG/.336 OBP/.408 SLG) were decent,
but a far cry from the lofty projections of a top overall pick.

Flash-forward to present day, and the trade looks a bit more even.
Garza is still a good-but-not-yet-great starter for the Rays. Bartlett
is still an everyday shortstop, but is on the wrong side of 30, and
struggling both offensively and defensively in 2010. Meanwhile, Young
is finally showing some of the potential Minnesota hoped to tap into
when the deal was made.

After posting two mostly average seasons for the Twins
(.288/.325/.413), Young is breaking out in 2010. His slash line stats -
.316/.349/.511 – represent career highs across the board. His 5% walk
rate is above his career norm (4.2%). Meanwhile, his
strikeout rate of 12.5% is a vast improvement over his 18.8% career
number.

delmonba.PNG

That said, Young’s plate discipline has room to improve.
Currently, he is swinging at pitches out of the zone more than 40% of the
time. The biggest difference is he is making contact on 72.3% of those
pitches — vs. 56.6% in years past.

In addition to the improving walk-to-strikeout rate, Young is
hitting the ball with more authority, as evidenced by his .511 slugging
and .195 ISO (Isolated Power, which is slugging percentage minus batting
average). He is also turning into to quite the run producer; he’s knocked in
22% of his base runners, tied for tops in the AL.

Young’s batting average
on balls in play (BABIP) of .327 this season looks high, but it’s actually lower than his BABIP numbers the past two seasons, .338 both times. As
of June 1 this year, his slash line was .273/.323/.469; his BABIP was
just .274. Since then, he is hitting .350/.372/.548 with a BABIP of
.368.

delmonbabip.PNG
 

According to ESPN.com, Delmon is still available in more than 5% of leagues.
If you happen to be in one of those leagues, put in a claim immediately.
If you are not fortunate enough to be in such a league, check in with Young’s owner. This breakout looks like it could be the real deal.

For more on Delmon Young and 2010 breakouts, check out Bloomberg Sports’ fantasy kits.

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