20 July 2010
This was originally posted over at The Daily Something. The fine proprietor of that blog, Bill, had his second child this past week and is taking some time off. Be sure to head over there to see many other fine guest writers!
With a brand new ballpark and an infusion of fresh talent, Minnesota was given immense expectations at the beginning of the year. Expected to breeze through the American League Central, the Twins were a popular candidate for a deep postseason run.
Ninety-three games into the 2010 season, though, the Twins are failing to live up to the hype.
An ailing rotation, a spotty bullpen, and honest-to-goodness rotten luck have kept Minnesota from achieving their potential. While finger-pointers can blame just about every member of the team, Delmon Young refuses to be a scapegoat. Quietly churning out the best season of his career from deep within the Twins' lineup, Young will not be ignored for much longer.
In terms of wOBA, Young has been the second-best hitter in Minnesota's lineup among those with at least 200 plate appearances. Better than Michael Cuddyer. Better than Jason Kubel. Yes, even better than Joe Mauer.
And yet, Young is still stuck in the bottom third of manager Ron Gardenhire's batting order.
Young's .313/.348/.510 triple-slash line this season is far better than the league-average No. 7 hitter: .256/.323/.412. That's 123 OPS points, or the difference between Angel Pagan and Rajai Davis. Young has even managed to lead the team in RBI despite his low position in the lineup.
Throughout his career, Young has managed to maintain an impressive batting average, empty and devoid of power though it was. This year, Young has boasted plenty of power. On pace to hit 18 home runs this year, Young's .510 slugging percentage is the 18th-highest in the league. Young is also on pace to knock 45 doubles this season, nearly three times more than he hit last season.
But what has Young done different this year to transform him from a draft bust to a premier young talent? He's walking more, striking out less, and even his fielding skills have taken a turn for the better. More importantly, though, Young has gotten smarter, taking better swings which result in a much higher contact percentage.
His batted ball ratios aren't far off what they were last year, but Young's eight point increase in contact percentage has given him a significant power boost, despite the fact that he's still swinging at everything in sight.
The 24-year old slugger has been especially hot in the month of July, hitting .404/.433/.684 in 15 games. If he keeps this up, Young will soon move up to fifth in the batting order.
And a much deserved promotion it will be.
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