During the 2007 offseason, the Rays traded outfielder Delmon Young to the Twins for starting pitcher Matt Garza. Young had come off a season where he went 13-93-10-.288-.316-.408. I don't recall why they dealt him, but he was only 22 years old at the time of the trade, so it could have been maturity issues, not sure. Still, it was strange that a bad Rays team would trade a 22 year old outfielder.
Young went on to put up a few mediocre seasons on 2008-2009 where he hit .290-.336-.405 in 2008, and .284-.308-.425 in 2009. He hit just 22 HRs and drove in 120+ runs in his first two seasons in Minnesota. Last offseason, there were rumors that he could be traded for a much needed third baseman.
This year, Young has finally broken out, as a 25 year old. He is hitting .330-.361-.537 with 14 HRs, 82 RBIs and 4 SBs. So why has he broken out this season?
Well, its not his BABIP, as it sits at .338 which is exactly his BABIP for each of the last 3 seasons. Rather amazing. But he has improved at the plate, as he is striking out just 12% of the time, vs 23% in 2009; and he is walking 4% of his at bats vs 3% last season.
He has also improved his ISO, which is up to .207 vs a career .140 ISO rate. His 14 HRs are a career high, and he has already hit 32 two-baggers, his highest since 2007 where he hit 38 doubles.
His batted ball data tells you he is hitting less ground balls - 44% vs 50% in 2009, and hitting more fly balls-39% vs 34% in 2009. So, his batted balls are heading in the right direction.
His plate discipline shows he is swinging at more balls out of the zone-42% vs 37% in 2009, and is making alot more contact on those balls-75% vs 54% in 2009. But, he is also making more contact across the board. He is making contact o 89% of balls in the zone vs 83% in 2009, and 84% of all swings vs 75% in 2009.
Young's plate discipline tells me if he can continue to make more contact at the plate, he could duplicate his performance in the first four months of 2010, and he is hitting for more power as he matures.