When the Minnesota Twins traded away the young and somewhat promising Matt Garza along with their starting shortstop Jason Bartlett last season, the hope was that Delmon Young would provide the lineup with a rare bat that seldom comes along.
That never happened, and rather than receiving praise for making an upgrade to the outfield, the front office received criticism for losing what some believe is a top-notch starter.
In 2007 with the Tampa Bay Rays, Young had a solid season. The youngster batted .288 with 13 homeruns and 93 RBI while playing in all 162 games. Meanwhile he played spectacular defense as he was at the top of the leader boards in outfield assists with 16.
So when the now 23-year old outfielder arrived in Minnesota last season, it was a common assumption that the first overall pick from the 2003 draft would provide protection in the lineup to stars Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, and become a star himself.
That didn’t quite happen. Young started off slow, his defense, while his arm was still solid, took a hit as he failed to cover ground, and fans became upset with the move. Overall Young hit .290 with 10 homeruns and 69 RBI.
The drop-off came mainly in the RBI department as Young went from nearly driving in 100 runners to not even reaching the 70 RBI mark.
His average was up, he posted a higher OPS and slugging percentage, and maybe best of all, the strikeout totals went down from 127 in ‘07 to 105 in ’08—an improvement that the free-swinging Young needed to make.
There was a lack of offense at times from the youngster, and with that, a lack of discipline as well. However, the numbers were far from terrible, and it was just year one of the trade. At 23-years old there is still plenty of time for the former top pick to break out.
With rumblings of being the odd man out in the crowded outfield, Young has responded early in spring training. The right-handed hitter is currently hitting a solid .526 in seven games with two doubles, one homerun, and five RBI.
While it is still a small sampling, Young has also posted a solid slugging percentage (.789) and on-base percentage (.550).
There is no telling how well Delmon Young will play in the upcoming season, or how much. But if the youngster can hit the way he has early this spring, and continue to show improvement as he did in areas of last season, fans may not be as upset with the trade come October.
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