Thursday, September 2, 2010

Delmon Young... Again

Almost four months ago, I took a look at Delmon Young's first month, and while he had struggled some at that point, I wrote:

"There is plenty of reason to be optimistic about the rest of Young's season, though. After hitting .338 each of the last three seasons on balls in play (my beloved BABIP), he's down to .254 this year. That's an awful lot of bad luck, as I've explained with J.J. Hardy as well, and over the course of the season it should gradually climb back closer to the .338 mark."

Young's BABIP has gradually climbed back to .320, and his numbers this season have been good. After a ridiculous July in which he hit .434/.455/.736, Young came crashing back to earth in August. Now, everyone seemed to praise Delmon during the spring for coming into camp in much better shape, losing nearly thirty pounds of baby fat. As the season wore on, rumors began to circulate that Young didn't actually 'work' off the baby fat, but rather he had a terrible virus and was sick for nearly a month in the off-season and lost most of the weight then. I'm not in any position to know which was actually the case, but one thing is certain; Young has put most of that weight back on.

In August, Young hit just .218/.239/.318, and you could see the baby fat clearly coming back. In fairness to Young, you could see the baby fat coming back during most of July when he was killing the ball, so I don't think his weight has much to do with his offense. What it may effect, however, is how fatigued he is. He's played a lot this year, and it's possible that with the weight coming back his body is getting tired much quicker. Of course, the more likely explanation is that Young hit so ridiculously well in July that the law of averages meant he was going to come crashing back to earth at some point, and it just happened to be the very next month.

For the year, Young is hitting .307/.337/.495, good for an OPS of .831. He's added 16 home runs and he's been a key run contributor, knocking in 92 as we head to September. Despite the praise Delmon has gotten, though, his OPS currently ranks 27th in the league among outfielders. Considering there are thirty-two teams and three outfielders per team, being 27th still makes Young a good player and above-average for sure. Unfortunately, he's not really anywhere close to an MVP candidate, which some fans and media types have foolishly anointed him.

Young has been very good at points this year and he's been a better than average offensive outfielder, and I hope he can find the swing he had in July over the next month to help the team down the stretch. I like Young, despite often criticizing him here, and as a Twins fan I would be more than happy to have Young become a perennial MVP candidate. Just know that at this point that's extremely, extremely unlikely, despite what the casual fan may believe. We all want Young to succeed, I'm just more realistic and the stats back up that he's a good, not great player, and his terrible August is just another reminder that every time Young seems to turn a corner, he always takes a step back. Here's to hoping he tears it up over the next month, and into the post-season.


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