Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Happy Delmon Young Day!

I’m a fan of Delmon Young. I freely admit it.

Based on everything I’ve read, Matt Garza is, or at least was, a punk. He was uncoachable and a jackass around the team. He definitely didn’t do things The Twins Way, and that’s a one-way ticket out of Minnesota. As a result, the Twins were going to trade Garza - no matter what - and get what they could for him. Enter Delmon Young.

Delmon Young did not ask to be traded. Delmon Young is not responsible for the Twins’ front office dumping Garza and Bartlett, and its unrealistic of we fans to expect Delmon to become Pujols or Mauer to justify the trade. All we can ask is he perform to the best of his ability, which has been justifiably questioned – until this year.

Delmon was obviously the centerpiece of the trade from the Twins’ perspective, and it seemed reasonable. He’s a five-tool prospect that was the #1 overall pick in the 2003 amateur draft and finished 2nd in the 2007 AL Rookie of the Year voting – as a 21-year-old. He has clearly suffered from maturity problems and a questionable dedication / work ethic. Until now.

Still just 24, Delmon reported to 2010 Spring Training in great shape, having lost 30 pounds, and showing a new dedication to the game. Gardenhire is now an unabashed Delmon fan, excited over the new maturity he sees in his left fielder. As we, the fans, are seeing some maturity in Delmon’s game.

Looking at the 2010 season to date, Young’s walk percentage is at a career high and his strikeout percentage is at a career low, showing much better pitch selection than he’s previously displayed. His BABIP of .266 is about 70 points lower than his career average, which suggests we’ll see an improvement in his batting performance. As a fielder, his current UZR of 1.0 is far better than his highly negative UZRs of 2008 (-19.5) and 2009 (-14.4). Although a bit of a joke amongst the blogging community, he has been inserted as a late-inning defensive replacement, and on at least one occasion made a running catch that the earlier left fielder (Kubel) would never have caught. 2010 could be, perhaps should be, Young’s career year to date.

Keep in mind – he’s 24. There’s still a LOT of room for continued growth and improvement.

He may never justify the Garza trade in the minds of the fans. But that doesn’t invalidate the contributions he is making or the potential he may realize in the future.

I believe, Delmon. I believe.

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