Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Happy Delmon Young Day!

I know, I'm writing a day early (or three weeks late--sorry, all!), but it's Delmon Young Day! The Victoria Times Minnesota writers may not agree on everything, but it seems Ryan and I have agreed on Delmon Young.

I don't know that I can write more than I have, or more than Ryan has. I think it comes down to this: people expected immediate results in Delmon Young, placed Joe Mauer expectations on him, and well, he wasn't. I think the big thing is that he was a major league player before he came to the Twins, therefore, the expectation was of a polished, professional player. Carlos Gomez came to the Twins, and his childlike exuberance endeared him to the fans. When he messed up, or wasn't hitting well, he was still a child. Should we mention here that Gomez is only three months younger than Young? When Young was in his first spring training with the Twins, a writer saw him sitting with some of the Twins minor league players--A and AA players, actually. The writer mentioned to Young how nice it was to hang out with the minor league players. Young looked surprised and matter-of-factly said that these guys were more his age. And the writer realized it was true. Most guys Young's age were in the middle minor league years. (In fact, it's quite possible in the draft in June of that year, the Twins drafted rookies younger than Young. I need to get ready for a ballgame, or I'd look it up.)

And, as I've likely stated before, Young gets the short end of the deal. He's young. But we've heard so much about him, we expect him to play like an older player. He's advanced for his age, yes. But he's not a once-in-a-lifetime player like Mauer or Pujols (which really, doesn't make them literally once in a lifetime, does it?). Delmon Young will be 24 for most of this year. Do you know what Justin Morneau's batting average was the year he turned 24? It was .239, in his first full season with the Twins. Many of us were disappointed in him, but we thought he needed more time in the minors, not a complete bust. Michael Cuddyer hit .245, and still hadn't had more than 120 at-bats in any year he'd played with the Twins (the next year he'd get 386).

So, let's give Delmon a little time to grow. It's a bit premature to call him a bust. He likely won't ever be a patient hitter. His on-base-percentage won't greatly exceed his batting average. But if his batting average does well, and his slugging percentage does well, he will be a good outfielder.

Incidentally, he's not great defensively. He's getting better, but may never be great. But remember, he's really a right fielder, and the Twins have Cuddyer and his deaf left ear in right field. (The deafness is important--it would likely be harder for Cuddy to play left field, as he'd have more trouble hearing the center fielder to his left for plays in the gap.)

So, celebrate Delmon Young Day. Do it by giving the guy a little slack--not in sloppy play, but in holding him to standards of a 24-year-old--an age a guy is often getting his first full year in the majors.

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