B/R MLB Reader Mailbag: Answers on Miguel Cabrera, Delmon Young, and More

Steven GoldmanMLB Lead BloggerMarch 21, 2012

Delmon Young: Almost a Condiment (But We Can Dream).
Delmon Young: Almost a Condiment (But We Can Dream).Elsa/Getty Images

As longtime readers of mine know, sometimes a reader comment is compelling enough that rather than answer it within the comments itself, I like to elevate it into its own post so that I can share my answer with a larger group than might check back on the original. It’s a bit like bringing enough gum to class for everyone. (Have you ever done that? It gets expensive.)

Back before comments were integrated into web pages (either I am that old or my employers were that far behind the times) and readers primarily corresponded with me via email, I called this recurring feature, “To the Mats with Reader Mail.”

Now, for obvious reasons, I go with the less stylish but sadly accurate “To the Mats with Reader Comments.” I also miss clear blue skies and the Emperor Franz Josef, but let’s put that aside and get to your comments.

One last note: I don’t edit these comments for style, substance, punctuation, or taste (though our ever-watchful copy editors may). They’re just unvarnished you.

1: He is Also a Leading Brand of Mayonnaise, Almost
Delmon young is actually a pretty good hitter as he showed in 2010, the little time he spent with Detroit last season, and this spring training he could easily get 100 RBI's with all the runners that are gonna be on in front of him.—JaLohn

Delmon Young is a career .288/.321/.428 hitter. That’s a lot better than you or I could do, and if Young were a shortstop, you might be enthused given how few hitters there are at that position these days. Unfortunately, by the standards of defensively-challenged corner outfielders, it’s weak tea.

During his career, players at his position have hit .266/.335/.432—they have reached base more often and hit for more power. When you add in how many runs Young has given back on defense, you have a player who is rowing his team backwards compared to the typical left fielder.

Consider his routes: If the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, then the longest distance between two points is a Delmon. Even in 2010, when he had his best offensive season, he was worth 3.0 wins on offense and -1.0 wins on defense. The net result isn’t that special.

I realize Young had a little power surge upon reaching Detroit, but he also had a .298 on-base percentage at a position (in a soft year for left fielders, who in recent years have been the second- or third-most productive hitters on the diamond) that had a .320 on-base percentage.

He will be more useful as a pure designated hitter than he ever was as a left fielder, but there is a reason that two teams gave up on him before he turned 26—he’s just limited.  

As for his RBI opportunities, you have already framed my answer for me: “He could easily get 100 RBIs with all the runners that are gonna be on in front of him.” As I wrote on Monday, RBIs are a function of opportunities the batter receives.

In 1997, Joe Carter drove in 102 runs despite hitting .234/.284/.399. Was he valuable that year? Hell no, he just came up with a ton of batters on base.

Thing is, for the Tigers, having runners on for Young is a bit of a problem because he’s a slow right-handed hitter and the guys in front of him are slow runners also. That means a lot of double plays even before you consider that Delmon hits more than his share of grounders and already taps into a relative ton of GDPs.

Last year, the average AL hitter rapped into a double play in about 11 percent of his opportunities. Young did so in 20 percent of his.

The bottom line: Unless Young rebounds to 2010 levels, he’s more hindrance than help.

2: Raiders of the Lost Cabrera
Not to mention Miguel cabrerras defense at third was enough to when a world series w Juan Pierre and Derek lee. I think you want to be bob kravitz—Danny

I’d settle for Lenny Kravitz… Or Bob Dylan. Hell, I’d take Bob Keeshan.

I think you misunderstood my point, Danny. I am for the Cabrera experiment, not against it, though that position has nothing to do with what happened to the Marlins in 2003. Nor does that long-ago season have any relevance to the Tigers now.

Cabrera was a spry 20 years old then, not a thickened 29. He started just 30 games at third base, all in the absence of Mike Lowell. When Lowell missed Florida’s first seven postseason games, Cabrera got the nod at third, but Lowell came back after that and Cabrera got not a sniff of the hot corner thereafter.

He was strictly an outfielder in the World Series win over the Yankees. The two seasons that Cabrera was the Marlins’ regular third baseman, 2006 and 2007, they finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

No, the Tigers should stick with the Cabrera gambit because they have a lot to gain and little to lose—this is an experiment they can end as easily as erasing his position on the lineup card, as simply as calling Jack Zduriencik and saying, “Listen, this ain’t working out, whaddya want for one of your excess third basemen?” There is nothing here that can’t be undone.

3: We Should Probably Check the Registry
What do you think the Royals could offer for JP Arencibia?—Grey

Interesting question. Arencibia, Toronto’s power-hitting but OBP-challenged catcher could be replaced at some point this year by top prospect Travis d’Arnaud. As promising as the latter is, he hasn’t had an at-bat at Triple-A. The Jays, not willing to rush the transition, have already optioned him out.

Arencibia isn’t a great defensive catcher, he’s never going to hit for average, and at 26, he is what he is, but my, does he have power—think of him as the new, more robust  Miguel Olivo. Last I checked, Olivo was worth about $3 million a year right now, which is to say that Arencibia has value even if he never posts a .300 on-base percentage.

Even with their recent graduations, the Royals have plenty in the system to offer Alex Anthopoulos should they want to pursue Arencibia, but it seems a waste of resources given his limited skill set and what should be a transient problem for Salvador Perez.