LF: The Breakout Candidate
When the Minnesota Twins traded promising young starter Matt Garza to the Tampa Bay Rays last offseason, the keystone of the deal was Delmon Young, who had batted .288 and drove in 93 runs during his rookie season in 2007. From the Twins’ perspective, Young was one of the most promising young talents in the American League.
Of course, as had happened at the second base (Brendan Harris), shortstop (Adam Everett), and third base (Mike Lamb) positions, Delmon got off to a slow start in a Twins uniform, flailing away at unhittable pitches and not hitting anything but singles when he did connect (his first home run didn’t come until June 7). This was at the same time that Garza was near the league leaders in both wins and earned run average for the AL.
Then, on June 27, Michael Cuddyer (the most powerful right-handed bat in the Twins’ lineup to that point) was essentially lost for the season due to a wrist (and later a foot) injury. From that point, Young really stepped up and became a force in the Twins’ lineup, finishing with a .290 BA, 80 R, 10 HR, and 14 SB.
Defensively, Young was heavily criticized (yes, this is you Patrick Ruesse) during one portion of the season where he misjudged a few fly balls in the Metrodome. To me, though, that criticism was entirely undeserved. First off, Young has a rocket arm out in left (a HUGE improvement over our last full-time left fielder Shannon Stewart). Second, every rookie has their struggles at the Dome, whether it be with the roof (outfielders) or the turf (infielders). Yes, Young struggled a little bit, but by the end of the season he saved many more hits, runs, and advancing base runners than he allowed.
The key thing that Twins fans must remember about Delmon Young is that his last name is synonymous with his current status in MLB. Delmon is only 22 years old, and after his breakthrough rookie season in 2007 he had a bit of a “sophomore slump” in the early goings of ’08. As the season came to a close, though, it became clear that Young can provide some right-handed pop to the lineup (as well as good speed), making him potentially the starting left-fielder of the Minnesota Twins for many years to come. I, for one, have no qualms about that.
-What a clutch win for the Phillies last night, with Shane Victorino hitting a late-inning two-run home run to give the Phils the victory. I predicted the Philadelphia squad to win this series in five games, and right now they are one win from doing exactly that.
-ALCS Game Four Starting Pitchers (Tampa Bay 2, Boston 1): Tim Wakefield (10-11, 4.13) vs. Andy Sonnanstine (13-9, 4.38). Can the Rays win two consecutive games in Fenway Park in October? I lean towards one, but of course I also doubted their ability to even win one.