A once highly touted prospect, Delmon Young finally had his “breakout” year in 2010. His .298 average, 21 home runs and 112 RBI were all career highs. Those numbers were certainly useful and made Young a solid No. 3 outfielder in 10-team leagues.
Let me clarify something before I continue: I’m not telling you to avoid Young—I’m telling to avoid his high draft day price.
In ESPN’s first expert 10-team mock draft, Young was the 26th outfielder taken. He was drafted in the ninth round before players like Ubaldo Jimenez, Josh Johnson, Gordon Beckham and Pablo Sandoval.
I think all four of those players will give you more bang for your buck than an outfielder whose strongest category was the one he had the least control over.
That’s the main reason I’m avoiding Young in 2011—because he was lucky. Now I don’t mean lucky in the sense that his batting average or home run total aren’t repeatable, because I actually expect him to maintain or possibly improve in those categories. I’m talking about circumstantial luck—and by circumstantial luck, I’m talking about his gaudy RBI total last year.
RBI are a lot like wins are for pitchers; it’s the category that batters have the least control over. Sure, Young deserves some of the credit, but it was merely fortuitous that he had so many RBI opportunities, especially considering that he rarely hit in the three-hole or cleanup spot. It’s not like he hit a lot of home runs that would allow him to rack up RBI in bunches.
Part of Young’s luck had to do with Twins slugger Justin Morneau missing half the season due to concussion complications. With Morneau’s likely return to the middle of the lineup, Young will almost assuredly receive fewer RBI opportunities in 2011.
To me, Young is an above-average fantasy outfielder, but he doesn’t excel in any category. His batting average will flirt with .300, and he’ll hit around 20 home runs, but his run total won’t be impressive. He had 77 runs last year, a number that’s unlikely to increase considering that he doesn’t get on base enough (career .325 OBP) and doesn’t bat near the top of the order.
Young’s speed has also been a disappointment. He stole only five bases last year and only two the year before. So when Young fails to reach 112 RBI this year, his stat line won’t look overly as impressive, and you’ll see that you could have gotten the same production out of players you could have drafted much later.
I don’t know about you, but if I’m drafting an outfielder before a top starting pitcher, that outfielder better excel in power, speed or a combination of both and not have to rely on 110-plus RBI to justify his draft position.
Unfortunately, Delmon Young does not qualify as that outfielder.
.297 AVG | 78 R | 22 HR | 85 RBI | 8 SB
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