Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Twins, Young Come To Terms, Avoid Arbitration

It took nearly right up until the deadline, but the Twins and outfielder Delmon Young, one of just four remaining holdouts in all of baseball, have come to terms on a 5.375m contract and avoided arbitration. The deal covers Young's second arbitration season and is for 75,000 less than the mid point of the two offers and 125,000 short of my 5.5m estimate. It's also the final arbitration deal for the AL Central's off season.

Young had a breakout season of sorts, one that's likely to be viewed in a far more positive light by those more accustomed to the old-school AVG,HR,RBI metrics - his line in that regard was .298/21/112 - something his more ardent supports will point to as proof positive of his development.

Newer metrics tell a different story to some extent. His .826 OPS in 2010 was a career best, and up nearly a hundred points over his .738 career mark entering the season. That huge bump in offense helped him go from one of the absolute worst players in baseball in 2009 (-1.1 WAR) to solid (2.1 WAR) in 2010. Still his offense was far more good than great, and his defense still negates much of his value.

Fairness in conversation here, I've always been down on Young and have never thought much of him. Still even a detractor such as myself was impressed by his 2010 season, and not just because of those old metrics. Young made real and legitimate improvements in areas that I actually consider important, such as K rate, which he he cut from an even 20.0% to just 14.2% last year. He also finally stopped hitting so many ground balls, putting 5% more balls in the air, which should help his power. He even made strides defensively, going from worst-in-baseball (-20 UZR/150) to just really, really bad (-11 UZR/150).

He still essentially refuses to take a walk, his line drive rates are actually getting consistently worse, not better, he still hits too many ground balls to project consistent power, and his defense is still really, really bad. But all of that aside, he's got lots of promise. First and foremost, Young will be just 25 years old in 2011, not yet having entered a players traditional prime years. Young was lauded coming out of high school for his power and there are certainly times when he's able to get into a pitch and that power is evident.

Whether Young can continue to move forward, and not regress backwards, could play a key role in the Twins 2011 success.

Corey Ettinger is a proud contributor to both,, and He also provides extensive analysis of the American League Central Division at his own blog, AL Central In Focus. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Coreyettinger for the latest updates, random thoughts and general tomfoolery.

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