Thursday, April 10, 2008
What is wrong with Delmon "Demon" Young? He's become a slap hitter. A good number 2 guy who will hit for a pretty good average, but has zero power. We already have one of those in Joe Mauer, except Mauer will at least walk to get on base, whereas Young is like the guy in softball who intentionally swings at ball four because "no way am I walking, I came here to hit balls." Might as well slap #69 on his back at this point.
When Young came here, the idea was he'd be a power bat to add to a lineup sorely lacking in said skill. With Morneau the only real power hitter, along with Cuddyer, who you never know what you're going to get from, and Kubel, who can never stay healthy, Young was needed to add some pop. Instead we got Bucky Dent.
There was a lengthy discussion in the comments of this post about Young, which mostly centered around two points - his plate patience made Kirby Puckett look like Ricky Henderson, and how the Twins added another power bat. Well, the only thing that conversation proved is that Snake and Dawg don't know jack about baseball, and everybody was wrong about Demon's "power" except Sidler, but I'll get to that a little later.
Have you looked at Demon's numbers? .286/.306/.314. It is not good when the OBP and SLG numbers are that close to the batting average. In fact, it's the exact profile of a slap hitter with no plate discipline. Ozzie Guillen, a notoriously free swinging spray hitter, had almost the exact same profile, particularly in 1989 when he hit .253/.270/.318. Other players with a similar trend were Rafael Santana, Tim Foli, and Rey Ordonez. Shortstops. Delmon Young hits like a god damned shortstop.
Small sample size? Yes, obviously. I'm not a retard. I recognize that. But there's more. An extremely disturbing trend Sidler brought up in the linked conversation above. Here are Young's slugging percentages, year-by-year going back to his first year in the minors: .538, .527, .474, .476, .408, .314. That's five years of either declines, with one small improvement. At this point, I'm starting to think the two issues are related. As team's get the book on Young, they know he's a hacker, and get him to swing at bad pitches he can't drive.
I still think he's an excellent talent, and believe he can turn back into a power hitter. Vladimir Guerrero is known as a notorious hacker, but he has also had at least 50 walks in every season except for his rookie year, and had 84 one season. Young needs to develop at least a modicum of plate patience, or he's not going to be able to succeed at this level.