Make Or Break Year: Delmon Young

As last summer wore on, it became clear that Delmon Young didn’t figure in to the Twins’ long-term plans. He wasn’t hitting and he wasn’t getting any more affordable, so a non-tender seemed entirely possible. Instead, the Tigers acquired Young from their division rivals last August and he hit eight home runs in the season’s final six weeks before hitting five more homers in the postseason. The Tigers weren’t going to release Young after a performance like that, and he’s currently Detroit’s starting left fielder. Young will debut on the free agent market six months from now and in the meantime he faces a make-or-break year.

Delmon Young - Tigers (PW)

Let’s start with the positives. Young hits for a high average and offers some power. The right-handed hitter produces especially well against left-handers, as his career .305/.341/.475 split shows. He also has pedigree as the first overall selection of the 2003 draft. Plus, he won’t turn 27 until September, which makes him much younger than most free agents.

However, his defense in left field costs his team, according to The Fielding Bible Volume III and UZR. He strikes out often, rarely walks and offers ordinary offense against right-handed pitching.

It’s currently difficult to imagine the Tigers making Young a qualifying offer this coming offseason. Young doesn’t seem like a $12.5MM player and he’s never produced like one, according to FanGraphs’ version of the Wins Above Replacement metric. Young will hit the open market unfettered by draft pick compensation, barring the unexpected.

Young’s representatives at Wasserman Media Group will ask for a multiyear deal should he replicate his 2010 season or continue hitting the way he did upon arriving in Detroit. Josh Willingham, now 33, obtained a $21MM contract last offseason. Three days later, 29-year-old Jason Kubel signed a two-year deal worth $16MM. A similar market could emerge for Young’s services if he serves up an eye-catching combination of batting average, homers and RBI this year. Any team that signs Young to a multiyear deal will face its share of criticism from scouts and analysts alike, but back-of-the-baseball-card stats have some appeal to this day, so a multiyear deal with a generous annual salary remains possible.

If Young puts together a disappointing season and solidifies the impression that he’s simply a lefty masher who doesn’t play defense, he’ll be limited to modest one-year offers. He may still be 26, but his skillset sometimes resembles that of a much older player. And as Andruw Jones (one-year, $2MM) and Jonny Gomes (one-year, $1MM) can confirm, the market for part-time righty bats isn’t lucrative.

Photo courtesy of US Presswire.


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33 Comments on "Make Or Break Year: Delmon Young"


johnsilver
3 years 4 months ago

Young is a goner, but have a kind of suggestion, or remote thought for Tigers fans… Wonder if VMart could maybe become a even below average LF somehow? Doumit learned to play the OF, Inge even became a GG type 3b. It happens and it’s not like Vmart can’t move around ok as he isn’t a bad 1b and reads the ball ok. Maybe he can play winter ball and play the OF in preparation for next year? Get his explosive bat into the OF, allow them to let Young go for sure and that fixes everything.

j6takish
3 years 4 months ago

 Carlos Guillen was a pretty bad LF and he was a pretty athletic shortstop in his prime. I really doubt that a former catcher could play a passable LF. Not to mention outfielders really aren’t hard to come by

johnsilver
3 years 4 months ago

 They need to find a position for VMart is the thing though. They have a decent, if not good catcher in Avilla, no place at 1b and eventually will figure out that Cabrera or Fielder is going to DH and the other will be stuck at 1b. Martinez is probably the best 1b of the trio.. Bit how can he play the position with those 2 and not knocking them, those 2 are monster offensive players and must be on the field.

Martinez’s salary cannot be moved and he is just not an adequate catcher even before he tore the ACL. Watched him in Boston for almost 2 seasons and he is very poor throwing out runners and not exactly the best at calling games, though Tek did help him out in that area with not moving hit mitt around so much.

That bat of his just one wants to get into the lineup. He is not another Sean Casey who needs to go away when he can still put the bat on the ball so well. This guy actually has good power.

LF to me just makes good sense. He can at least play OF as good, if not better than some people who played it for years.. Adam Dunn and Jack Cust come to mind.

Paul Shailor
3 years 4 months ago

Maybe its because I am a homer but I think Cabrera can stick it out for 2 more years at third until Martinez’s contract is up. They could just have Vmart and PRince play 1b/dh.

Also Miguel played OF earlier in his career although very briefly but dude has a cannot for an arm and maybe move him to right and then boesch to left. Also I personally prefer the scenerario with vmart/prince as 1b/dh.

FunkyTime
3 years 4 months ago

 Yeah, if anyone moves to the outfield it’s going to be Cabrera, not V-Mart.  But so far Cabrera is looking passable at 3rd.

Lastings
3 years 4 months ago

That’s the price Detroit has to pay when they think of offense before defense. It will catch up to them when they try to squeeze bats in the lineup while having guys play out of position…

LazerTown
3 years 4 months ago

for hitters like prince and cabrera I would take the mediocre defense.  They both can mash and their lineup is better off with them than a defensive player.  It is not like they are asking either to play ss/2b/cf

Lastings
3 years 4 months ago

In addition to Torii Hunter, call me old fashioned. I’ll take power pitching, and strong defense over Detroit’s lineup…

notsureifsrs
3 years 4 months ago

yup. but in a short series detroit is a beast

FunkyTime
3 years 4 months ago

There’s only one guy playing out of position, and that’s Cabrera.  And it’s a position he has years of experience at and he’s doing fine at it so far.

Lastings
3 years 4 months ago

That’s “so far”. MLB season is just a week old. It will catch up to them, maybe not at the same pace as placing Avila at third, but sooner or later it will. Now will it cost Detroit? Maybe, maybe not…

inleylandwetrust
3 years 4 months ago

How would it cost them? Miggy is very capable of making the routine plays, which is all that is asked of him. People were blowing it so out of proportion thinking he wouldn’t even be able to field a bunt. He won’t be above average, but he is just fine.

williswinning
3 years 4 months ago

Unfortunately for you, no one is playing out of position. Leyland may know q little bit more about baseball than you.

williswinning
3 years 4 months ago

We don’t need a position for VMart. He’s a DH.

Paul Shailor
3 years 4 months ago

I see what you are saying however MArtinez is not as athletic as Doumit and is older. Also from the Tigers’ perspective I wouldnt mind having more a defensive presence in left. Aside from Jackson our defense is terrible. I wouldnt mind giving Don Kelly the chance.

williswinning
3 years 4 months ago

Avila is a great defensive catcher. Peralta should have won a GG last year. Santiago is great anywhere. Sounds like Detroit has a great defense up the muddle, where any MLB manager will tell you, that’s were its important.

Infield Fly
3 years 4 months ago

Sounds like Detroit has a great defense up the muddle…

Actually, defense up the “muddle” sounds like a bit of a problem to me :->

3 years 4 months ago

We could sure use him in the ATL. We couldn’t hit a left-hander with a boat paddle.
 

bobbleheadguru
3 years 4 months ago

Delmon is in the perfect place with great lineup protection. He is a very good hitter… if the ball is thrown over the plate. That is very likely to happen if Cabrera and/or Fielder are on in front of him.

His 2011 Tigers numbers (including playoffs) would be off the charts if they were projected over 150 games: 104 Runs, 40HRs, 114RBIs.

If he can do 70% of that… even with poor defense, he  is worth it.

j6takish
3 years 4 months ago

 Pro-rating numbers like that is just silly. Just ask the 162-0 Diamondbacks about Aaron Hills 81 Homer campaign

Paul Shailor
3 years 4 months ago

70% of pro rated, I could see im doing that and then he would be worth it. I think if we can get him for 4/40 we should do it. Guy is still young.

inleylandwetrust
3 years 4 months ago

Ummm what??? You would give Delmon Young a 4 yr deal?!?!? I am 100% in favor of letting him walk next season.

Paul Shailor
3 years 4 months ago

Yea I mean I am not a GM, but 4 years would be until he is 31 right? Thats not bad.

inleylandwetrust
3 years 4 months ago

It’s horrible. Delmon is not a very good player. He’s essentially been a replacement level player throughout his career. 

3 years 4 months ago

 Delmon is a nice hitter as a complimentary player on the 2011 and 2012 Tigers.  He will be completely miscast as a go-to offensive force and will be overpaid after this season.

LazerTown
3 years 4 months ago

His 2011 tigers numbers are really not that good.  He has never shown an ability to take many walks, and has seemed to get worse at it in his career.  He had a .298 obp last year.  Which if the player can hit 40 hr is somewhat allowable.  But over his career he has never hit more than 21 hr and the rest of the time he hit in the teens.  Not someone I would put in the lineup, especially at that price, at an easy position such as lf.

bobbleheadguru
3 years 4 months ago

Projecting 5 games is silly… but he played 49 games for the Tigers last year. That IS a decent sample size.

The key is getting pitches to hit (which he did not get with the Twins). Lineup protection makes a big difference based on his hitting style.

3 years 4 months ago

I think the closest offensive comparison is Andruw Jones, but Jones is still a decent corner outfielder. I’d much rather have Jones than Young out there.  I don’t think the age warrants a much higher salary than Andruw (although Jones doesnt need to sign a better contract to get paid, the Dodgers are taking care of that).  So unless Young has a break out year, he’s the next Matt Diaz.

Ryan Wagner
3 years 4 months ago

According to Baseball Reference, the most comparible hitters are Xavier Nady, Ron Coomer, Chad Tracy, and Reed Johnson. Pick up the option, Tigers!

Ryan Wagner
3 years 4 months ago

Projecting a contract or worth based on 49 games of Delmon Young’s career is not a decent sample size. Take 2010 for example. March/April he hit .222/.292/.381, then in July he hit .434/.455/.736, only to fall off to .218/.239/.318 numbers in August. The guy is the definition of a streaky hitter. He will earn boatloads of money in his career from people willing to overlook his huge slumps and God-awful defense hoping that he turns into a consistantly good hitter. But if his first 3,000 at bats tell the story, he is going to be a replacable player for his entire career.

bobbleheadguru
3 years 4 months ago

I agree with Tigers stance to not give him a contract now… However, his 2011 Tigers (not Twins) 49 game performance is hard to not notice.

It could be that he was streaky and got lucky with the Tigers… or it could be that all he needed is lineup protection… which gave him pitches to hit in the strike zone.

I do not think it is not a big stretch to see him get 30HRs and 100RBI on this team…. even if his OBP is hovering around .300. OBP means a little less if you are hitting #5 (after Cabrera/Fielder) v. hitting #3 (as he did some time last year).  

Tigers should lock him up if he gets close to 30/100.

3 years 4 months ago

As a former Twins fan let me say this:  Don’t fool yourself anything you see in Delmon is a mirage.  He will never be a truly reliable hitter, and he is the worst regular outfielder I have ever seen.  Combine that with an unwillingness to play Designated Hitter, and being apprently to lazy to ever get into truly good shape and nobody should ever sign him for anything ever.

lefty177
3 years 4 months ago

the same cannot be said about his brother Dmitri, he lost 70 pounds & would do anything to get back into the game, Delmon should take notes