I suspect most people will have a negative view of Delmon Young, citing the fact that he looks terrible in the outfield and swings at everything, and I also suspect there will be many weightloss jokes.
I really am not sure what to think of this year’s Delmon Young. His +1 UZR is almost certainly not for real. He has been worth roughly -34 runs over the past two seasons and is generally a disaster in left field. Though his weight loss may lead to improvements in that area.
But offensively, there appear to be signs that Delmon is improving: His walk rate is 8.3% this year, which would be nearly 3% higher than his previous career high, and his 8 walks this year is 2/3 of his entire 2009 total. However, he is still swinging at the same number of pitches outside of the strikezone (37.3% compared to 37% last year), he is just hitting a lot more of those pitches (71.7% compared to his career 54.9% mark). So assuming that will regress, Delmon will start striking out more and more (currently 11.6%)
I do believe the tools are still there. He has quick hands and good bat speed, as well as natural power. He has a .174 ISO this year which would by far be his career high, and his BABIP is 70 points lower than his previous career low. His LD% is also lower than it ever has been, but not low enough to justify that low of a BABIP.
While his surface numbers may be improved, his peripherals suggest that Delmon Young is still the same guy he’s always been. While it’s admirable that he has taken 30 pounds off his frame, it won’t fix his defensive problems completely, nor will it lead to better plate discipline. A player who is in his 5th major league season, yet still is a free swinger without a grasp of the strike zone doesn’t strike me as a great player.
He’s no Nick Punto, that’s for sure.