I Have To Write Nice Things About Delmon Young; Help, Please


(Justin Klugh)

TBOH continues its two-week series of previews of the Phillies 2013 season.  Yesterday, it was Michael Young.  Today, we attempt to give an optimist’s take on the currently injured but presumed starting right fielder Delmon Young. It won’t be easy.

I have to write a positive post about Delmon Young. Somebody please scratch my eyes out.

You know, I guess it’s an honor. Usually, people give the toughest assignments to the most talented person, so perhaps this duty fell to me because the higher-ups at this website felt I was the best Phillies blogger of all the Phillies bloggers living in our parents’ basement.

And boy, this one is a doozy.

Tasked with finding the bright side to a season of regular Delmon Young plate appearances, I actually managed to think of a few. So, if you can keep your breakfast or lunch down while reading this, I invite you to help me explore the virtues of Delmon Young.

Wow, I feel dirty just typing that.

For all his faults (anti-Semitism, a fat body, poor general baseball skills), Young has had moments of productivity and promise in his still-young career. And perhaps that’s where we’ll start off… Young’s age.

Despite entering his eighth season in the Major Leagues, Young is still just 27 years old. That’s just one year older than Darin Ruf. Typically, a player hits their prime right about now, if they’re indeed going to have a prime. The Phillies are banking on this fact, hoping that Delmon will finally put it all together this year, once he returns from an injury that has kept him out of spring training so far.

March 14, 2013; Clearwater, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies right fielder Delmon Young (3) works out prior to the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Bright House Networks Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Another piece of good news is Young’s seeming willingness to drop some pounds, even to the point of agreeing to periodic weigh-ins and weight benchmarks, for which he will be compensated should he reach certain contractual goals.

In other words, the Phillies are paying him not to be fat. So, there should be a great incentive for him not to be fat anymore.

Young only agreed to these contract stipulations because no one else really wanted him. He knows this may be his last chance to be an every day player. So, he could be a whole more motivated this year than in years past.

He will also be transitioning to a defensive position he says is more comfortable for him. And even though his new position, right field, doesn’t seem a whole lot different from his old position, left field, he seems to think it’s going to make all the difference in the world.

Delmon has been a poor defender throughout his career, but has not played his preferred right field since his rookie year of 2007, when he finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting and grounded into a league-leading 23 double plays (dammit, a negative stat snuck in there… how did that happen?… HEY EDITORS!!!…).

Speaking of Young’s injury, there appears to be some good news on that front, per Daily News writer Ryan Lawrence

"In addition to hitting on the field with his teammates, Young ran for the second time in as many days and the third time since Thursday. Initially, he was cleared to run on a treadmill, but he progressed to running on flat ground within the last week.“Right now everything is going good,” Young said Sunday. “Hitting feels fine, throwing feels fine. I’m just running, trying to build up the strength in my foot and my legs, and the stamina in general.”"

That’s right. Young ran on flat ground yesterday. Let’s DO this.

In an online chat yesterday, the Inquirer’s Matt Gelb noted Young was seen “shagging” fly balls in right field before Monday’s game against Atlanta…

"“…He is still far away. I watched him “shag” balls during batting practice today. That entailed standing there and gingerly walking to balls that rolled near him in right field. Basically, it will take Young some time not only to rehab his body and swing, but to also regain his bearings in the outfield. It is not silly to think he’s back after May 1.”"

So, there’s that.

March 17, 2013; Clearwater, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies right fielder Delmon Young (3) works out prior to the game against the Baltimore Orioles at Bright House Networks Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Delmon Young is also cheap. No, not like in restaurants or with cabbies, although I can’t really speak with any authority on his tipping policy.

I mean, his contract is affordable and offers virtually no financial risk to the Phils. Young signed an incentive-laden one-year, $750,000 deal, and it would be no trouble at all for Ruben Amaro and Charlie Manuel to dismiss Young if his weight fluctuates too much or if he turns out to be not quite the RBI machine they hope he’ll be.

Speaking of RBIs (which, as we all know, is a truly great indicator of offensive productivity), Young had 112 of them in 2010 with the Minnesota Twins, while hitting 21 HRs and posting a slash line of .298/.333/.493 for an OPS+ 124 and a bWAR of 1.5. Now, allow ESPN’s Dave Schoenfield to shock you…

That’s right, kids. Delmon Young finished 10th in the MVP voting in 2010. The BBWA members should all be beaten with a wet reed for that one.

Truthfully, if Young gives the Phillies a repeat of his ’10 season, hits 20 HRs and knocks in 80 to 90 runs while posting a similar slash line, Phils fans should take that and leap for joy. Of course, he’s going to miss the first month of the season at least, so those numbers will certainly be less than his MVP-like stats of three years ago. But a similar pace would be most welcome.

Finally, Young has been a good player in the postseason. Last year, he won the ALCS MVP by hitting .353/.421/.765 with 2 HRs and 6 RBIs in the Tigers’ defeat of the Yankees. For his playoff career, Young has 8 HRs and an .859 OPS in 115 plate appearances.

Apparently you just need to get Delmon Young to the playoffs in order for him to rock the house.

Wow. Incredible! I was actually able to find numerous positives about Delmon Young’s potential 2013 season.

Did I feel dirty while doing it? Yes I did. Do I feel like drinking a quart of turpentine right now? Yes I do. Will I be able to sleep tonight? No, I won’t.

Still, there is a chance things could work out with Delmon Young this year. He could go the entire year without screaming a racial slur at somebody. He might not be the butcher in right field that he was in left. He could repeat his offensive season of 2010 and give the Phillies a little right-handed power for the middle of the order.

I’m just saying. It could happen.