After finally having somewhat of a breakout season in 2010, after showing little progress over the previous three seasons, Delmon Young disappointed once again last season, actually posting the worst wOBA of his career. He dealt with injuries to his oblique and ankle, which limited him to 473 at-bats and likely hurt his production. With the addition of Prince Fielder, let’s see if we should expect a rebound.
At-Bats: 575. Somewhat risky projection, as he hasn’t posted a total this high since 2008. He should be healthy now after the injuries last year and since he never walks, it shouldn’t be too difficult to reach this total. Plus, Jim Leyland recently stated that he would see some time at DH, and he made this claim after the Fielder signing. So this should keep him in the lineup when the team gets tired of his poor defense.
Contact Rate: 82%. Same as last year and right about in line with his career average. His contact rate has kind of bounced around a bit, so there is a larger range of potential outcomes than other veterans.
GB%/LD%/FB%: 47%/18%/35%. One of the biggest knocks on Young when he first came up was that he didn’t hit enough fly balls to really showcase his power. A 35% fly ball mark is still below the league average, but it’s a heck of a lot better than the 27%-28% marks he posted in 2006 and 2008.
BABIP: .315. My expected BABIP formulas spit out .320 and .318 marks, and his career average is .328. However, that’s inflated by three straight .338 marks from 2007-2009. Since then, he hasn’t posted anything above .312. Yet, that still remains in his history and so I am projecting a bump this year.
HR/FB Ratio: 11%. This is where the fun begins. Last year, he posted an 8.7% mark, after posting two consecutive seasons with a 10%+ rate. He was much better in the second half, when he was likely healthier, as he posted a 14% HR/FB ratio. Though that had little to do with my projected rebound, it does lend more credence to the projection. What I found most interesting was a look at his ESPN Hit Tracker page.
Last year, his homers traveled an average standard distance of 402.3, which is excellent. Even more exciting though is his speed off bat (SOB), which was a ridiculous 107.7. I am honestly not sure I have ever seen anyone higher than that in all the pages on this site I have looked at. Of his 12 homers, only 3 were of the “just enough” variety. If we look back at 2010, we again find a 400+ average standard distance and a 105.5 SOB (AL league average 103.4). Of his 21 home runs, only 3 were classified as “just enough”. This is the type of Hit Tracker profile that suggests some serious power upside.
RBI and Runs: 90 and 75. Hitting behind Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder is a dream come true. Hitting behind not just one .400 OBP guy, but two?! Unfortunately, he loathes the base on balls, so his runs scored will be rather mediocre.
SBs: 3. It’s hard to believe he stole 22 bases in Triple-A in 2006, and that was in just 370 plate appearances. He hasn’t even attempted double digit swipes since 2008, so anything more than this projection is just a bonus.
Below is my final projected batting line, along with Bill James, RotoChamp and Fans projections for comparison.
I had no idea before developing my projection, but it appears I kinda like Delmon Young this year. With the Hit Tracker data suggesting potentially big power upside and the addition of Fielder providing him with countless opportunities to drive in runners, he has a decent chance of outperforming my optimistic projection. He’s also just 26, so we should not have seen the best from him yet anyway. His current Mock Draft Central ADP is 225 and he is the 240th player selected on average. Sounds like he could be a bargain.