Delmon Young Day

I’ve been wrong with my opinions several times this year. I was unhappy that Brian Duensing had been used in critical situations this year, and he’s promptly responded with a 1.38 ERA, 2.93 FIP, and a .197 opponents batting average. I didn’t like the Twins re-signing Ron Mahay early this season, and he’s been even better than Duensing: 0.00 ERA, 1.26 FIP, .160 opponents batting average, and a 9.6 K/9 rate. I thought that the Twins would be just fine with Drew Butera as the backup catcher, even with his hitting woes, but he exceeded (in the wrong direction) my low expectations by starting the season with a .118/.118/.118 hitting line.

As for Delmon Young…well, it feels like he jerks us around like a yo-yo. When he was first acquired, there were huge expectations of him. He didn’t hit so well after joining the team in 2008, and expectations went down. Then he turned it on in the 2nd half of the season, and expectations went up for the 2009 season. Young promptly repeated the process, which again frustrated the fans in the beginning of the season, but brought positive thoughts as he heated up in the 2nd half for the second consecutive season as a Twin. The excuses for his struggles sounded like we were mimicking Milkman Dead from Song of Solomon: You can’t blame him, he’s just young.

But before the 2010 season, Delmon decided that something had to change. He committed himself to staying in shape by losing nearly 30 pounds. Although his issues with taking advice from the coaching staff are well known, he’s also reworked his hitting stance. If you remember, he used to rotate the bat in his hands before the pitch, and now he’s switched to moving the bat up and down. He actually made this change midway through last season, but I can’t confirm that the change has helped him in any way. Lastly, although he still retains his aggressive approach at the plate, Delmon has vastly improved his plate discipline this year by drawing more walks and cutting down on the strikeouts. He already has 8 walks in 2010 (compared to 12 in ‘o9) and is on pace for only 60-some strikeouts, which would be a career-best by roughly 30 K.

Add it all up, and it seems like Young is finally figuring out how to perform in the major leagues on a consistent basis. He hit his first home run of the year during the first series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, which inspired confidence that his first half slide would not happen this year. He then promptly slipped down to a low-.200s batting average, but still fans were happy to see that Delmon was off to a “hot” start. However, he’s been heating up lately, and after today’s 3-4 game, he’s now approaching a .290 batting average, which is right around his career average. Also, whether it’s from rediscovering his love of the game or because he can actually give 100% with that fat tire missing from his belly, he’s noticeably been sprinting all over the field, both on offense and defense. Overall, he’s made huge improvements this year, which has led to comments like these:

Sam C.

Honestly, I have nothing to rant about, I love the way Delmon is playing this year. He’s a pleasant surprise.

Ryan F.

Sam said it perfect.

Megan D.

I love Skinny Fast Delmon. I have nothing else to say.

Ramon B.

Delmon is one of my favorite Twins on this current roster. Behind Matty G. and Kubel…there’s Delmon. Anytime I get down on him I just think….”He’s still younger than you are.”

Riley B.

I am no longer embarassed to wear my Delmon shirt.

Well…at least for now.

As for myself…I’m not fully buying New Delmon yet. When he lost weight, Young told the media that he cut a meal out of his day. To you, this might sound like he was eating too much, but to me, I heard him say “I’m starving myself.” Maybe it’s my high school teacher mind kicking in, but I wasn’t too pleased to hear that he was using a method that thousands of teenagers are convinced as being a good way to lose weight. His reasoning was also a problem I had, as he said something along the lines of, “I wanted to look better in my uniform.” He didn’t want to become a better ballplayer. He didn’t want to extend his career. He wanted to look good.

Even if his disclosed intentions weren’t the best, he’s easily shown improvement this year. Though it’s still early, Delmon has been an asset on defense so far, according to UZR, after ranking as one of the worst outfielders the past 2 years. It’s also possible that a move out of the Metrodome and those pesky lights have helped him in the field. His offense has improved this year as well, and he even looks faster when he runs, though this may just be the fact that he’s actually trying to get somewhere in a hurry when he runs.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely pleased that Delmon has made improvements in his game and he’s been an asset to the Twins, especially with Jason Kubel’s cold start to the season. I just feel that it’s still a bit early to let one month of one season outweigh the pair of first halfs from the previous two seasons. Right now, I wouldn’t mind if the Twins released or traded him. There are plenty of outfielders coming up the minor league system in the next few years, and although Kubel and Michael Cuddyer are more likely to leave due to their age, at least they have shown more success in the majors than young Mr. Young. Oh well, I can dream. Delmon’s here to stay, and there’s nothing I can do about it except continue with my comments on Twitter. But if he keeps up his success this season…well, he can join Brian Duensing and Ron Mahay as the team of Twins players that have made me eat my words.

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6 Responses to “Delmon Young Day”

  1. Doctor_Teh Says:

    I wish I could trust his new UZR being all nice and ABOVE ZERO, but fangraphs writers always remind readers that UZR data isn’t really reliable in a set less than two years, so a month is really nothing at all. He does seem to pass the eye test though, although I still cringe at some of his routes to balls.

    He has grown on me immensely though, and I’ve grown to really like him. I would be quite upset if he was released, although it would be reasonable to trade him. But while there wouldn’t be an enormous dropoff if he were replaced by a minor league OF’er, isn’t his contract pretty cheap for the value he provides? Getting rid of that value and starting someone else’s service time for no gain seems pretty unreasonable…

    Anyways, I highly doubt that will happen, so let’s just hope that this improvement is real!

    • Andrew Says:

      Yes, I mentioned his improvement on defense, but I must admit that this is only an indicator of how he’s done so far this season. It doesn’t necessarily mean that he’ll continue to be above average defensive for the rest of the season, but when a guy posts a -15 UZR in two seasons, a single month with a positive UZR should carry a little weight.

      Actually, Delmon has had negative value the past two seasons (-0.7 and -1.1 WAR the past two years). Therefore, even though he hasn’t made more than a couple million dollars, he still didn’t perform well enough to justify his contract.

      Regardless of the early returns on UZR, Delmon has been worth 0.4 WAR this year. Being on pace for just under 2.4 WAR is not bad for a guy that’s been in the red the past two seasons.

  2. Delmon Young Day… looking back with a smile | Knuckleballs Says:

    [...] Off the Mark [...]

  3. Sam C Says:

    I think when he said he cut out a meal, he cut out the “fourth meal”. If you eat rather early dinner then you have the urge to eat again at 9 or 10 and it just isn’t good for you. Like Delmon, I lost a ton of weight over the course of the winter and a huge part of it was watching what I ate and when I ate.

    • Andrew Says:

      Thanks for the clarification. I don’t remember if Young or anyone else specified which meal he removed from his diet.

      I obviously hinted at anorexia when I was talking about Young in the post, and I feel that I did this because he definitely exhibits signs of immaturity. When I found out that he lost weight only because he wanted to look good in his uniform, I felt that it was just another example. Now you could have said the same thing, but I do not consider you to make immature decisions, so I can’t jump to conclusions about you as I did with Young.

      • Sam C Says:

        I think he was joking around with the looking better in the uniform. I think his older brother (Dmitri Young) knocked some sense into him as well because Dmitri use to a skinnier dude but then ballooned from 215 to 300 lbs.

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