Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Delmon Young, Joe Mauer and Stuff...

posted by Jon Williams
Delmon Young on a Roll

Delmon Young
was once expected to become a major offensive baseball force. He was the next in a line of young stars that included Evan Longoria, Carl Crawford, James Shields and others in the Tampa Bay Rays minor league system. He was questioned for having a bad attitude and being hard to coach, but no one doubted his potential. Four years later from that peak of interest he has yet to have much impact. He has been average at best and often much worse than that. But whereas the Rays quickly cut their loses the Minnesota Twins have stuck with him and there are signs that it is about to pay off for them and fantasy owners.

Young's mother died early this season of cancer, he received a week off. This is tough for anyone to deal with, so maybe we can understand a little better some of this season's lack of focus. To date, Young is batting .265/.292/.388 with 7 homeruns, 2 stolen bases, and three caught stealing. Though he has never been a very patient hitter (contrary to popular opinion this isn't the end of his usefulness as a hitter) Young's lack of power has been very disappointing. This is the stuff you probably already knew.

What you may not have realized is fairly significant. Like Josh Hamilton, Delmon Young has always had a slight hitch in his swing. This is something that Young has been working on since the end of last season. Changing your swing is one of the most difficult (and dangerous for your production) things that a hitter can do. Some hitters manage it easily some are forever fiddling trying to find what works again. Since the All-Star Break Young has hit .265/.292/.515 which is not amazing but a huge step up from his first half. In July he hit .313/.343/.500 and .269/.296/.558 in August. This is not mind-blowing statistically but it is progress. When you combine his statistical progress with the recent comments by Twins manager Ron Gardenhire praising Young for his change in attitude and the work he has put in working with the the coaching staff, it gives you hope that his potential is still in reach. Young is still just 24-years old, an age where most prospects are still at triple-A. Young of course has spent the last three seasons in the major leagues. I'm looking at a huge breakout in the 2010 season.

Your American League MVP is Joe MauerBold
Joe Mauer is a beast. Right now he is the best player in baseball. Yes, better than Albert Pujols. In fact Mauer could be having the best season ever for a catcher. Better than Mike Piazza, Johnny Bench, or Ivan Rodriguez or any catcher in history has ever recorded.

Random Bits and Pieces

The New York Yankees may not get center fielder Brett Gardner back as soon as expected. His doctors suggested that he keep the splint on his thumb another week. So under even the most optimistic program he's another couple of weeks away. But lefty reliever Damaso Marte may be back on Friday. Don't drop Gardner unless you absolutely must. The Yankees could use his fresh legs in the last few weeks of the season to rest the older knees of Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon.

Ed DeCaria of BaseballHQ.com has just completed a two-part study of the correlation between pitching performance and wins. In an attempt to see what factors matter most in predicting wins. The results are a bit unsatisfying (after a whole lot of math and charting he never manages better than a 50/50 shot at predicting wins) but the articles are interesting and may make it easier to understand what makes the best pitchers tick if you have access to HQ.

Mike Hampton, who has been useful at times this season, has a torn rotator cuff. He has chosen to go the rehab route rather than have surgery. You can hardly blame him. After missing huge chunks of the last five years the idea of another serious surgery and lengthy rehab had to be daunting. I doubt he'll be of any use the rest of the season and I would be very hesitant to draft him in 2010.

Drew Stubbs (Cincinnati Reds center field prospect) has been promoted to the majors today. He should be in the majors to stay. It is actually a little shocking that the Reds did not promote him earlier considering his nice production in the minors and the Reds' needs in the outfield. He still needs to cut down the strikeouts but has begun to take walks at a decent rate and should continue to improve. He is already a better hitter than Wily Tavares. He should provide his owners with boatloads of steals.

Arizona Diamondbacks manager AJ Hinch is excited about the potential of the club's likely September callups. In particular he mentioned first base prospect Brandon Allen, who is hitting .341 with 12 homers and 31 RBIs in 35 games with Triple-A Reno since the D-backs acquired him from the White Sox. Also, outfielder Cole Gillespie who has hit .325 for triple-A Reno. Those two make nice speculation picks on FAAB if your league rules allow.

Mike Morse has been called up by the Washington Nationals. He doesn't have a clear position but he can seriously hit when given the chance. If he's still available snatch himup on the cheap.

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