When the Minnesota Twins traded for Delmon Young prior to last season, everybody thought the team was bringing in a hitter with big power potential. The assumption was rightfully so; Young had hit .288 with 13 homeruns and 93 RBI with the Rays and was just barely 21-years old.
In his first season with the Twins, Young hit .290 with 10 homeruns and 69 RBI. The numbers weren't bad; Young upped his average from the year before and also struck out 22 fewer times. Yet the expectations that the homerun totals would rise with age caused most to be critical of Young and the trade.
Young received 77 few at-bats last season than he did the previous year with the Rays. Those at-bats might not have caused him to collect 24 fewer RBI, but the lack of extra-base hits might have. In his first full season in Tampa Bay, Young had a total of 51 extra-base hits; last season, Young had 42.
In a small amount of games in 2006, Young excelled and was over the major league average for slugging percentage, a number based off extra-base hits. The true judgement numbers however come from '07 and '08 when Young played in 162 and 152 games respectively.
Young has seen his slugging percentage fall each season, and thus far in 2009, Young has only two extra-base hits out of his total 23.
Being judged solely off RBI numbers and slugging percentage (or extra-base hits) isn't fair. In each season since arriving in the majors, Young has been an above-average hitter in terms of batting average. He has hit near or at .290 in each of his full seasons, and this season he is hitting .303 as mid-May draws near.
Young might not be living up to the big power hitter that everybody expected when he arrived last spring, but there is no doubting his hitting ability. Delmon Young can hit, and at 23-years old, there is still plenty of time to turn some of the singles into extra-base, run producing hits.
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