Friday, February 12, 2010

Delmon Young's Potential

Delmon Young. If you are talking Twins baseball with even a casual fan, Delmon Young's name will undoubtedly come up. For the most part, the casual fan tends to think Young has enormous potential, and the Twins just need to be patient with him. Although these people are wrong, it's perfectly understandable as to why they believe Delmon is a budding star. The Twins have done a fantastic job of marketing Young as a future superstar, and they continue to talk him up at every opportunity.

Young had a very good offensive second half last season, including a ridiculous final week, but with his abysmal defense, he was barely an above average player over that time. His first half was so historically bad that he still managed to be the worst offensive and defensive left fielder in the AL last year, but Young fans will continue to point to his great second half as proof he's finally turned the corner. Unfortunately, Young has done just enough in each of his three major league seasons to make people believe he's finally turned a corner, only to regress back to the free-swinging, impatient hitter we've all seen each April and May. Following the 2008 season, I remember thinking the Twins needed to give Young one more year to figure things out, because his numbers improved basically every month besides August, with September being his best month. Of course, he managed to start 2009 in a terrible slump, his defense actually got worse, and he ultimately was among the least valuable players last season.

So, what is Young's offensive potential? I don't think he'll ever reach 40 home runs, and likely won't ever pass the 30 mark. Not only is he impatient, but he also hits a lot of balls into the ground. Since he reached AA, his plus batting practice power has ultimately been non-existent, except in fastball situations. The sign of a great hitter is being able to capitalize on a pitcher's mistake, but unfortunately Young has shown little ability to do this. There's no doubt Young has great raw power, but unless his patience improves greatly, he will continue to be a net negative player for the Twins. I know that's hard to hear considering what the Twins gave up to get him, but the fact is he's shown very little since playing in AA to suggest he's ever going to be even an average major league player.

Here's to hoping I'm terribly mistaken.