Delmon Young: Buy Low Candidate

He entered the season as a popular regression candidate, got off to a terrible start and is currently on the Disabled List, but all of those things make Delmon Young a strong buy low candidate. There’s always risk in acquiring a player currently on the DL, but Young has experienced zero set-backs during the recovery process. Young is currently set to begin a minor-league rehab assignment on Tuesday, and could re-join the Minnesota Twins as early as next weekend. Though he still seems like a major risk, Young is one of the best buy low options in fantasy baseball right now.

Since Young has already been injured this season, we’re dealing with an extremely small sample of plate appearances here. That’s going to make our outlook on Young pretty speculative; which can be a dangerous game. At the same time, that’s what makes Young a strong buy low candidate. If he was currently dominating (and healthy), he wouldn’t be available.

In that small sample, Young has shown some signs of improvement. The owner of a 4.2% career walk rate, Young was able to bump that number to 7.9% in the early going this season. He’ll never be a great (or even average) on-base guy, but any improvement in the category would go a long way to making Young a more valuable fantasy player.

While you can write off his increased walk rate as an example of small sample noise, his plate discipline charts point to some legitimate changes in Young’s approach. Young has been far more selective this season, leading to a career low Swing%. Always a free swinger, Young has stopped hacking at pitches outside of the zone this season; causing his O-Swing% to drop from 40.9 to 31.5 this season. On pitches inside of the zone, Young is swinging less but making more contact. While strikeouts weren’t a huge problem for Young last season, he’s managed to drop his swinging strike rate to a career-low 8.1% this season.

Now, here’s what you should be asking yourself: “If Young is showing more plate discipline, making more contact, and swinging and missing less often, why does he suck so much?”

Well, a good place to start is Young’s poor BABIP. Young has been incredibly consistent when it comes to BABIP over his career; posting a .338 in the category for three straight seasons (2007-2009). This season, Young’s BABIP sits at a lowly .265 despite any major changes in his batted ball data. Since we’ve already established that Young isn’t a great on-base guy, his BABIP (and thus his batting average) is strongly tied to his value. As his BABIP rises, Young should be able to get his average back to respectable levels.

That’s not to say everything is coming up Milhouse for Young. As stated earlier, we’re dealing with an extremely limited amount of plate appearances. While much of what we’ve seen from Young indicates success, there’s a decent chance it’s also small sample noise. However, Young’s value could not be any lower at this point. It’s very likely you can acquire Young on the cheap and reap the rewards as he rebounds. Even if Young fails to reach the heights of his breakout, he should provide a lot of value if you can peddle off a player off to an unsustainable start. It’s a risky move, for sure, but you don’t win fantasy leagues without taking a few risks.



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Chris is a blogger for CBSSports.com. He has also contributed to Sports on Earth, the 2013 Hard Ball Times Baseball Annual, ESPN, FanGraphs and RotoGraphs. He tries to be funny on twitter @Chris_Cwik.

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Matt
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Matt

Delmon Young or Jason Bay in an OBP league? Young’s available on my waiver wire…

I’m having trouble deciding. I liked Bay in a bounce-back year, but his plate discipline is declining and I’m questioning if he can bounce back.