Is Delmon Young About to Break Out?

Delmon Young, a former #1 pick in the ’03 draft, is viewed as failed prospect, but might he be ready to live up to some of that hype that once surrounded him? Perhaps.

His walk rate was 5.6% in ’08 and 2.9% in ’09. This season it has jumped up to 8%. Just in terms of raw numbers, Young has 10 walks this season in 112 at-bats. He had 12 in 395 at-bats all of last season. With the walks have come a decrease in strikeouts. Young posted an 18.3% strikeout rate in ’08 and a 23.3% in ’09. This season, however, he has cut that ’09 strikeout rate in half almost, with a 12.5% strikeout rate.

In terms of power, Young is also starting to find his stride. His isolated power is .188, a career high, this season. That places him in front of Carlos Pena and Kendry Morales and just behind Austin Kearns and Carl Crawford in the category. If you’re just looking at home runs, he’s hit 4 this season. That’s not too amazing, but the most he’s ever hit in one season is 13, so he could be in for a career year. His .438 slugging percentage is also a career high. His previous high was .425 in ’09.

What’s hurting Young right now is a .247 BABIP, which is helping drive his .250 batting average. In ’07, ’08, and ’09 he posted a .338 BABIP and his career BABIP, over almost 2,000 at-bats, is .334, so we have a decent idea of what his BABIP could rebound to. Once Young, a career .288 hitter, sees his BABIP rebound, he could see his some of his progress start to pay off.

We also have to keep in mind that Young was drafted straight out of high school. He’s 24 years old now; if he had gone to college for three years and then gone to the minors, we might just now be seeing his first year at the major league level, not his fourth. Either way, Young may be primed for a breakout season.

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9 Responses to “Is Delmon Young About to Break Out?”

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  1. nolan says:

    I never realized he was that young. He looks somewhat older somehow and he’s been in the majors for awhile. Interesting.

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  2. Scott says:

    No. No he’s not.

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  3. The Usual SusBeck says:

    Haha. I was waiting for a comment like that.

    But regardless from what you presented it looks like he may just be playing slightly better than his average. That could mean improvement or be random fluctuation (especially without a year to year trend). Regardless, I’d say he’s showing signs of improving before I’d use breakout.

    Also, if his BABIP can rebound, it’s certainly possible that his BB% and K% can rebound to previous levels of bad.

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  4. Chris Cwik says:

    I’ve wondered the same thing, and I’ve been waiting for someone to take on this question. I think you can make the case that Young is finally starting to come around. The problem is, he isn’t getting regular playing time right now…so it’s tough to gauge some of his performance. That said, the fact that he is walking at twice his normal rate is pretty promising. Perhaps there is hope for Delmon Young?

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  5. redsoxtalk says:

    Yeah, I don’t know if “break out” is the right term. Maybe “come out” or “work his way out”. How about “seep out”?

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  6. So I take it from some of the reactions, maybe I should have used “wake up” or “come out from hibernation” or even “take off the training wheels,” rather than “break out.”

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  7. R M says:

    I posted this on the other Delmon article, but I’m not really ready to buy in to the improved plate discipline. His O-Swing % hasn’t changed, and neither has his Z-Swing %. He’s just making more contact with the pitches he swings at….is that legitimate improvement or will he come back down to earth?

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  8. redsoxtalk says:

    Andrew, you title your article whatever you want. I just don’t agree it’s a break out waiting to happen, and that was my lame attempt at humor. Keep writing, dude.

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  9. Josh says:

    Don’t you think his BABIP is suffering because his LD% and GB% are plummeting while his FB% is soaring? If he maintains those ratios, I assume his BABIP will not bounce back.

    He’s also got more infield fly balls this year.

    Looks like a guy who has really had some work done over the offseason training him to take pitches and elevate the ball. (And lose weight.) Just a hunch. I would expect his ISO to go up as he figures it out, but maybe his career BABIP is no longer representative (though his current BABIP is still surely low).

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