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Delmon Young

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What can fantasy baseball players expect from 2007's leading Rookie-of-the-Year candidate Delmon Young, and, by extension, what should fantasy leaguers pay for him at this year's drafts? These are questions worth asking.

From hype alone, one should expect a .300/20+/100/20+ season from Dmitri's little brother. After all, he did go .320/25/115/21 in 2004, his first minor league season, and followed that up with a hype-augmenting .315/26/99/32 in 2005, split between AA & AAA. Last season, one marred by Young's bat-throwing incident, he still managed an .316/11/69/24 season between AAA & Tampa.

In his minor league careeer, he hit .317, and, in 126 major leagues ABs, he hit the same. The one thing he did not do was take walks. Those 126 ABs accompanied one base-on-balls. In AAA, he had just 15 with 342 AB, and, in 2005, he walked just four times after his promotion to AAA in 228 ABs. That is a total of 20 walks with 696 AB.

This lack of walks is the main concern. He did take a decent amount of walks his first season (53 with 513). The next season he walked 25 times with 330 ABs in his AA debut - a worsening of his 9.7 AB:BB ratio to 13.2 - but if you slug .582, that drop isn't a concern.

Since his promotion to AAA, his AB:BB ratio has been 34.8. That is what mainly concerns anyone not willing to cede superstardom on Delmon right now. Accompanied by the large drop in power, this becomes more disconcerting. What can not be disputed is Young is very young and has plenty of time to improve.

For the next few years, Delmon need only hit HRs and steal bases to be a very valuable fantasy player. He plays on a team that won't be competitive for a while so there is no risk it would go out and acquire a Bobby Abreu-type OBP machine.

I don't see anything unreasonable about expecting a 20/85/20 season. What I have a hard time cedeing, though, is a .300+ AVG. Major league pitchers will not give him anything to hit if he fails to demonstrate greater - much greater - patience.

Where would I draft him? What would I pay for him? Basically, the same thing I'd pay for Braves OF Jeff Francouer - a very young hitter with very little ability to take four balls in the same at-bat.

That said, if you think he is .300/20+/90/20+ for 2007, then value him the same as you would Indians outfielder Grady Sizemore.

Update [2007-1-13 11:11:57 by Eric Hz]: From another roto-authority:

AB H AVG HR RBI R SB $
RotoAuthority 550 147 0.267 13 71 68 23 4.56
Bill James 550 165.7 0.301 17 77 77 31 17.20
ZiPS 550 158.5 0.288 16 72 73 20 9.68
Average 550 157.1 0.286 15 73 73 25 10.47
So I'm bearish...feel free to adjust my projection upward as needed.

Color me bullish.

Year Level G AB HR RBI SB BB SO AVG OBP SLG
2004 A 131 513 25 115 21 53 120 0.32 0.386 0.536
2005 AA 84 330 20 71 25 25 66 0.336 0.386 0.582
AAA 52 228 6 28 7 4 33 0.285 0.303 0.447
2006 AAA 86 342 8 59 22 15 65 0.316 0.341 0.474
MLB 30 126 3 10 2 1 24 0.317 0.336 0.476