August 16, 2011

Twins trade Delmon Young to Tigers for Cole Nelson and PTBNL

There's no doubt that trading Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett, and Eduardo Morlan to the Rays for Delmon Young, Brendan Harris, and Jason Pridie on November 28, 2007 was a big mistake. It was a bad move at the time, as the Twins undervalued Garza and Bartlett while overlooking Young's considerable flaws as part of his supposed upside, and in the four years since then it has proven to be one of the most lopsided missteps in team history.

At various points along the way the Twins surely could have gotten a decent return by trading Young, particularly following a 2010 season in which he hit .298/.333/.493 with 21 homers, 46 doubles, and a bunch of RBIs. But they didn't and he took several massive steps backward this year. Trading for Young was a mistake and not trading him after last season was too, but once those poor decisions were made yesterday's decision to dump him was a sound one.

Young was a No. 1 pick and universally regarded as an elite prospect, but those days are long gone. Now he's a 25-year-old veteran of 2,800 plate appearances and has hit .289/.322/.426 with meager power, zero plate discipline or strike-zone control, awful defense, and laughably bad baseball instincts. He's also being paid $5.38 million this season and would be in line for a raise to at least $6 million next season via arbitration, with free agency looming in 2013.

There's nothing the Twins could do to erase their previous bad decisions regarding Young, but the mistake now would have been keeping him for another season at that price. Too little too late, but the Twins finally came to the realization that he shouldn't be in their long-term plans and that left them three options. They could trade him now, they could try to trade him shortly after the season, or they could non-tender him this winter.

They chose the one option with a guaranteed return, minimal as it may be, trading him to the Tigers for minor leaguer Cole Nelson, a player to be named later, and around $1.25 million in savings. Nelson was a 10th-round pick in last year's draft out of Auburn and the Edina native is a 6-foot-7 southpaw with plus fastball velocity and mediocre numbers at Single-A, so he's a decent second-tier prospect. I'm told the player to be named later will be "nobody special."

By trading Young within the division the Twins made it clear they no longer believe his oft-cited potential is likely to arrive and it's difficult to argue otherwise about a poor defensive corner outfielder with a .426 slugging percentage and 12 homers per 500 at-bats. Since he joined the Twins in 2008 the only player in all of baseball with more plate appearances and a lower Wins Above Replacement total than Young is Yuniesky Betancourt. Seriously.

Even in 2010, his lone quality season in four years with the Twins, he was merely a good but not great hitter whose putrid defense wiped away much of his offensive value. That year there were 64 total corner outfielders, first basemen, and designated hitters with at least 500 plate appearances and Young ranked 46th in on-base percentage, 23rd in slugging percentage, and 27th in OPS. And in the three surrounding seasons Young slugged .401.

Perhaps it'll click for Young in Detroit or his next home after that, but he got ample opportunity to show he's more than just another bad-glove, good-bat corner outfielder and couldn't even consistently accomplish the good-bat part. Young's flaws on and off the field mean his bat has to be special and it's barely been average. There's a reason the Twins got so little for him and it's the same reason their trade for him was such a mistake: Young simply isn't very good.

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63 Comments »

  1. Oh, and Thome hit the 600th homerun of his career.

    Comment by Jeremy — August 16, 2011 @ 1:18 am

  2. Who’s Thome? He doesn’t play on an East coast team, must not exist!

    Comment by Nick — August 16, 2011 @ 1:49 am

  3. Hmm. $1.25M in savings this year, plus $6M next — that’s enough to sign a good shortstop, like a JJ Hardy type.

    Since Bill Smith took the top spot, have the Twins got a good return on a trade beside Kevin Mulvey for Jon Rauch? Maybe the Pavano trade. But, geez, the Twins used to be good at plucking talent.

    Comment by doug — August 16, 2011 @ 2:21 am

  4. I do not want to see anyone here complaining that we didn’t get enough for Delmon. Delmon is an awful player and has no value, and most major league teams have competent GMs who realize that. Getting a bag of baseballs for him would have been a good trade. I will sleep better at night knowing that I don’t have to worry about Smith keeping Delmon around for another year.

    Comment by Pedro Munoz — August 16, 2011 @ 2:23 am

  5. I think I’m going to enjoy watching cans-of-corn drop in the outfield whenever Detriot’s in town.

    Comment by Steve J — August 16, 2011 @ 2:43 am

  6. I do not want to see anyone here complaining that we didn’t get enough for Delmon. Delmon is an awful player and has no value, and most major league teams have competent GMs who realize that. Getting a bag of baseballs for him would have been a good trade. I will sleep better at night knowing that I don’t have to worry about Smith keeping Delmon around for another year.

    I feel exactly the same way. I’ve been thinking towards this off-season and have been cringing everytime I was thinking about the mistakes Smith could be making and my hope was a non-tender. That we obtained $1.25 and two checkboxes in the organizational depth-chart was well beyond what I was expecting.

    A Tiger’s fan coworker of mine thinks they are getting a dependable hitting-machine, but of course he’s kinda of a sucker for batting average.

    Comment by Steve J — August 16, 2011 @ 2:52 am

  7. Perfect picture– Delmon flailing, “Waste Management” ad in the background.

    Comment by Ben S — August 16, 2011 @ 6:39 am

  8. When will the media and fan base start bringing the heat down on Bill Smith, Dave St. Peter and the rest of this brain trust? Personnel management on this team has been atrocious. Not just trades. Look at the results of Gardy’s desire to have speed up the center of the diamond. Nishioka has been putrid, Revere is (as Gleeman has pointed out) our present and future Juan Pierre and for the life of me why is Tolbert ever seeing the field. Meanwhile, JJ Hardy was just named AL player of the week. Perhaps Jim Hoey can send him a congratulatory email. Dumping Delmon is the cherry on top of a very bad sundae. I wonder what Terry Ryan would do with a $110MM payroll?

    Comment by JR Cigar — August 16, 2011 @ 6:58 am

  9. I wonder what Terry Ryan would do with a $110MM payroll?

    sign twenty Tony Batistas?

    Comment by Steve J — August 16, 2011 @ 7:24 am

  10. For all the Ryan lovers, there aren’t young players on this roster, and there aren’t great prospects in AAA, because of Ryan’s last couple of years. Ryan also failed to handle the Santana and Hunter situations at all. Ryan was very good at his job, but hardly infallible.

    As for dealing Young, it is hard to second guess them not dealing him this last offseason. Everyone thought they were in line to win the division, he was 25, and he just had a “good” year. No way any team other than the Rays trades him with those circumstances.

    People don’t understand the concept of sunk costs. This is not “what did we get for Garza”. This is, what should we do now, with Delmon? He, rightly, was not going to be re-signed in the offseason. Getting something (in addition to some salary room for next year) for him is gravy. This is one of the few things BS has done right.

    Comment by mike wants wins — August 16, 2011 @ 8:01 am

  11. RIP MN Twin Delbert “twinkle toes” Young

    I hope you do well as a DH for years to come so we can slam the Young for Nelson trade for years to come, seriously. I don’t think you have much of a chance, but it would be fun.

    Would it make sense to throw Plouffe out at SS and Hughes 2nd for the remainder or the year? Didn’t Justin Morneau struggle with the glove for a while also? I think both have more potential to thrive in the big leagues than Nishioka/Tolbert. Maybe its water under the bridge.

    Comment by spoof bonser — August 16, 2011 @ 8:27 am

  12. The best off season moves this team can make are not on the field, but in the front office. It’s time for a new perspective in the front office. I have no problem with keeping Gardy around, but a new GM has to be able to stand up to Gardy when he wants to keep his favorites around, even when they aren’t producing.

    Comment by Mike — August 16, 2011 @ 8:34 am

  13. While I’m glad they won’t be resigning Delmon for next year, I disagree that BS did this “right.” He absolutely could and should have dealt Young this past offseason, when he still had some value despite his obvious flaws. They then could have signed any number of replacement free agent OFs – Johnny Damon cost the same as Young, Melky Cabrera was a steal for KC for far less, etc. That’s the type of move a forward-thinking front office would make. But this staff is completely reactionary, and their reaction times are slooooow.

    Comment by BR — August 16, 2011 @ 9:55 am

  14. That’s pretty loaded with hindsight, though. If they were going to get something similar to the .810ish OPS corner fielder with (badly needed) right-handed power they had last year for just over $5mm, that’s a pretty good deal for a team under payroll constraints. It didn’t happen this year, though. I only wished they realized they were sellers in July.

    Comment by TMW — August 16, 2011 @ 10:19 am

  15. Amen Pedro Munoz, Amen.

    Comment by Bird — August 16, 2011 @ 10:26 am

  16. Awful is pretty harsh for a player that drove in 110+ runs in ’10, is only 25 years old, and carried the Twins offensively in stretches during more than one pennant drive. I believe a better way to put it is that they should have moved him earlier and commanded more for him than a fringe minor leaguer and a PTBNL that will likely be some org filler type. I don’t think there’s a question that they had to move him, the move is the right one, but I don’t think he deserves that kind of vitriol either. He helped the team at certain moments during his tenure there.

    Comment by Houston Jimenez — August 16, 2011 @ 10:37 am

  17. It’s not hindsight. The team made no apparent attempt to sign Young long term, even after his best year with them last season. The possibility of them cutting ties with him loomed large on the list of “what might happen soon.” A good front office attacks that kind of issue proactively and on an ongoing basis. For example, this offseason, it’s Liriano that they should be looking to deal. Even if they don’t pull the trigger, it would lay the groundwork for a midseason, pre-waiver deadline trade that could bring back decent value in return.

    Comment by BR — August 16, 2011 @ 11:13 am

  18. According to Baseball-Reference, Delmon has been worth .2 Wins Above Replacement for his career, and half that came in yesterday’s game with the Tigers. Seriously. He’s been paid over $6.5M (or at least will be at the end of this year). Before this season, he was exactly at replacement level for his career.

    Comment by SoCalTwinsfan — August 16, 2011 @ 12:38 pm

  19. The guy may never be great, his defense will never be good and he may not be in the league much longer. But why all the hate? He didn’t get arrested with a gun, he didn’t get busted for drugs, he didn’t beat up his girlfriend, and he didn’t trade himself here. He may have cut in line in front of Billy and Len3 at the buffett and that would explain a lot. The thing he did was not live up to our expectations and for that so many people hate him? As a Twins fan I always wanted him to succeed and I believe he is better off with the Tigers.
    Lets hope they bring back Punto next year or who will we hate next?

    Comment by Mike — August 16, 2011 @ 12:42 pm

  20. Mike:

    Because he’s one of the worst defensive players in the league, he cost a small fortune in talent to acquire, he has an awful MiLB and MLB track record, little to no plate discipline and is basically not a good player. At all.

    He also has a reputation as a hot head which is why Twins fans believed he was traded. Instead of the real reason which is he’s not very good.

    Comment by Gendo — August 16, 2011 @ 12:54 pm

  21. Oh and I personally intend to hate Ben Revere once he starts sucking up PA and potentially convincing Bill Smith that Span is a tradable asset.

    Or maybe Nishioka for being terrible. Or Capps for being expensive and costing the Twins best prospect to acquire. Or Tolbert for holding down a spot on the 40 man roster. Or Drew Butera for being one of the worst offensive players in Twins history. Or Rene Tosoni for d–damn there are so many choices!

    Comment by Gendo — August 16, 2011 @ 12:57 pm

  22. Oh and I made some Delmon Young gifs to celebrate his banishment. Enjoy:

    http://i.imgur.com/FNbah.gif

    http://i.imgur.com/xUH9i.gif

    http://i.imgur.com/rFbGn.gif

    Comment by Gendo — August 16, 2011 @ 1:03 pm

  23. Why are some people here using words like “hate” and “vitriol” to describe the criticism of Delmon Young? I don’t hate Delmon Young. I just think he’s a terrible baseball player and that the Twins are better off without him. Its nothing personal.

    Comment by Pedro Munoz — August 16, 2011 @ 1:07 pm

  24. I hate what he represents, he shows how stupid the front office is. That they don’t know what to look for when valuing players.

    Comment by Todd — August 16, 2011 @ 1:17 pm

  25. I’m with Pedro. There is no hate here, there is only rational analysis of his play.

    Comment by mike wants wins — August 16, 2011 @ 1:25 pm

  26. To be fair, I actually did kind of hate Nick Punto. But that was because not only did he suck, he was a lazy and fundamentally unsound player.

    Comment by Pedro Munoz — August 16, 2011 @ 1:26 pm

  27. “It’s not hindsight. The team made no apparent attempt to sign Young long term, even after his best year with them last season. The possibility of them cutting ties with him loomed large on the list of “what might happen soon.” A good front office attacks that kind of issue proactively and on an ongoing basis.”

    I do not understand this. Their only rational options with Young last winter were:

    1. Trade him.
    2. Sign him long term.

    ?

    Apparently the option to give him his fair arbitration shake and hope for another 2010 at a relatively cheap price was an idiot’s play?

    Comment by TMW — August 16, 2011 @ 2:52 pm

  28. All of this hate talk about Delmon Young is ridiculous. While Delmon Young did not totally live up to his potential he sure did not disgrace himself. He had a very good year last year and deserved his 2011 contract numbers. Injuries played a big part in his decline this year and if you would look at his recent numbers since he came off the DL they are pretty good for an awful player. As far as a terrible outfielder this is NOT true. He is not great but he is NOT awful. He has never had more than 5 errors in one year with the Twins, he has pretty good arm and decent speed in the outfield.

    And by the way, he hit a homerun in his first at bat against his own team and went 2 for 4. Not bad for an awful player.

    The Twins have not been noted in recent years for making the best deals in the world. They let JJ Hardy go to Baltimore where is he is having a pretty good year. They let Orlando Hudson go and while he is has had injury woes he still has had good numbers this year at times and he kept the Twins clubhouse lively. Also, letting Pat Neshak go when he could have helped their terrible bullpen. Neshak has done a good job this year with the Padres where is ERA is 3.57.

    I am not so sure trading Delmon Young was such a good idea. I hope Delmon shows the Twins they made a big mistake. But the Twins are not know lately for making good decisions.

    The only good decision they have made in recent years is signing and keeping Hall of Famer and now 600 home run King Jim Thome.

    I wish the Twins well but until they find pitchers who can pitch and a more stable hitting lineup they will continue to be mediocre.

    An unhappy Twins fan.

    Comment by Carl Hardy — August 16, 2011 @ 4:05 pm

  29. Hey Aaron,

    You asked for feedback and here it is. I’m out of town and can’t catch you on the radio ever so I’m glad you are now doing podcasts. Keep ‘em coming. I’d love revolving guests and friends too. It’s cool to hear people I’ve only ever read.

    Wow the Twins are in trouble for a few years. After a few years of this, people are going to clamor for the Morneau and Mauer for multiple players and cash deal. We’ll certainly see it happen, for the simple matter of BS trying to save his job.

    Comment by brian — August 16, 2011 @ 4:13 pm

  30. TMW:
    I can’t tell if you’re playing devil’s advocate or not. If what the Twins did was sign him and “hope for another 2010,” then yes, it was an idiot’s play. Because, as others in this thread have already shown, even in 2010, his best year with the club, Delmon Young was a mediocre player. One whose defense is so bad that he promised to kill a flyball oriented pitching staff. One whose value was artificially and temporarilu inflated by one good season of relatively meaningless counting stats like RBI. One who was highly likely to be worth more in a trade to a poorly run franchise (take your pick – Chicago?) at the end of last season than he was now.

    At a bare minimum, he should have been moved before the waiver deadline, when the Twins could have talked with more than one team and not been locked into dealing with just the team that chose him off waivers. But, of course, his value had plummeted again by this July that it’s quite possible no team really wanted him.

    You can justify and willingly accept this as a “good move” by BS only if you ignore all context and all the info we had about Young up to this point in time. But that’s not what GMs get paid to do…

    Comment by BR — August 16, 2011 @ 4:24 pm

  31. Carl Handy, I don’t know what is more ridiculous – the idea that criticizing Delmon Young’s poor play constitutes hate, or the idea that Delmon Young isn’t an awful outfielder. Delmon Young has provided almost no value during the four years he has been here. His decent numbers in 2010 were largely offset by his poor defense. The mistake was bringing him here in the first place and not dumping him sooner.

    Comment by Pedro Munoz — August 16, 2011 @ 4:29 pm

  32. He absolutely could and should have dealt Young this past offseason, when he still had some value despite his obvious flaws.

    What possible real value could he have picked up in the last month and a half of this season? Even if he starts hitting it’s pretty apparent he’s not a very good player, is getting expensive, and was a probable non-tender. Getting rid of him now gets us *something* -in addition to both cost savings and playing time for guys who might eventually matter.

    Comment by Steve J — August 16, 2011 @ 4:51 pm

  33. It is unbelievable to me that the baseball fans who have used this forum to criticize Delmon Young’s defensive play have NOT looked up his defensive stats. If they had they would notice that he has the second best defensive stats this year of any Twins outfielder (ex. in 634 innings he has a + 3 plus/minus, a 3.9 UZR, and an 8.7 UZR/150). Only Denard Span has better outfield defensive stats and Cuddyer has a minus in all of these categories. Not bad stats for a player who supposedly can’t play defense. Enough said. Delmon Young is not a terrible baseball player. In fact he is above average.
    Stats don’t lie.

    Enough said. Here is wishing you much success with the Tigers.

    Comment by Carl Hardy — August 16, 2011 @ 5:23 pm

  34. It is unbelievable to me that the baseball fans who have used this forum to criticize Delmon Young’s defensive play have NOT looked up his defensive stats.

    It’s unbelievable that anyone would focus on one year’s numbers when it’s well known that defensive metrics like UZR and +/- can have large one year swings (like batting average), unless you somehow believe that he’s magically found a way to cover more ground since the previous two years of -10 and -14.3 UZR

    Delmon Young is not a terrible baseball player. In fact he is above average.
    Stats don’t lie.

    No, but people who cherry pick stats often don’t understand a stat’s limits and implications.

    Comment by Steve J — August 16, 2011 @ 5:40 pm

  35. Ignoring the mistakes of the past (should they have dealt for him, should they have dealt him sooner…..), was it the right move to move him now? I say yes. There was no upside to keeping him. They were not going to re-sign him. Now they get money, and they get two bodies. The only possible downside is increased leverage for Cuddeyer and Kubel in their negotations, but does anyone really think that?

    Comment by mike wants wins — August 16, 2011 @ 6:38 pm

  36. Any statistic that indicates Delmon Young is anything more than a horrible outfielder is just further evidence that they haven’t yet been able to statistically quantify defense in baseball. Watching just a handful of games of Young in the outfield should tell you all you need to know about his defense. If you’re left looking for stats to tell you how effective he was then that handful of games must be the only actual baseball games you’ve ever seen.

    I still say it would have made much more sense to hold onto Young and hope he got hot for the rest of the season hoping to sucker somebody this winter. All this move did was save a million bucks. I can’t complain too much though since the main concern was not having him and his amazing UZR out there in left field again next year when the games might actually matter.

    Comment by Ben — August 16, 2011 @ 8:02 pm

  37. Stats don’t lie. But people who misuse them do. Actually, I’m not sure that Carl is lying as much as he simply has no clue what he is talking about.

    “[Young] has the second best defensive stats this year of any Twins outfielder (ex. in 634 innings he has a + 3 plus/minus, a 3.9 UZR, and an 8.7 UZR/150). Only Denard Span has better outfield defensive stats and Cuddyer has a minus in all of these categories.”

    That actually isn’t true. Ben Revere, who has more outfield innings than Kubel or Cuddyer in 2011, has better defensive numbers than Young. Of the three players who have played the most innings in the outfield this year (Young, Span, and Revere) Young has the worst defensive statistics. For what its worth, Jason Repko also has better defensive stats than Young.

    The argument Carl was trying to make is that Young is a good defensive outfielder because statistically he is the second best defensive outfielder on the Twins in 2011. Even if that argument didn’t fail because Carl got his facts wrong and Young is actually third (out of the three who have played the most), the fact that his numbers are better than Kubel and Cuddyer this year is meaningless. Both of those guys are poor defensive outfielders.

    The other problem with the stats is that we are dealing with 3/4 of a season, and that all of the Twins outfielders in question have missed significant time either due to injuries or due to playing positions other than outfield. Its a small sample size. That is why you want to use defensive numbers over a number of years, and by that measurement, Delmon Young is an awful fielder.

    Finally, the suggestion that Young’s critics haven’t looked at the statistics is just false. It is Young’s statistics, and the ability of the critics here to understand them, that has led us to the conclusion that he is an awful player. Aaron addressed this in his story, which states:

    “Since he joined the Twins in 2008 the only player in all of baseball with more plate appearances and a lower Wins Above Replacement total than Young is Yuniesky Betancourt. Seriously.”

    What that means is that out of hundreds of players who have played during that time, only one player in all of baseball who has been less valuable to his team than Delmon Young.

    Bill Smith has made a lot of dumb trades. Getting rid of a guy who was one of the very worst players in baseball during the four years he was here was not one of them.

    Comment by Pedro Munoz — August 16, 2011 @ 10:03 pm

  38. This pile on Young here is lame. He wasn’t a “terrible” player by any stretch, and there were key moments during stretch drives when he carried the team offensively. Overall the stats aren’t fantastic and he’s not a good defender as it’s been pointed out repeatedly, but 112 RBI, he’s 25 years old, and was certainly productive in moments. And guess what, now we’ve got two more fringe minor leaguers and Young is hitting 3 hole. Homered in his first AB for DET, 2 for 5 today. How much do you want to bet that he hits for them and helps them down the stretch? Oh, and since a lot of you on here are convinced that the “clutch” factor is a myth, I won’t get into the fact that the stats suggest he’s one of the better clutch hitters in the league. One more thing: look up his baseball reference page and see which player he most compares to at the same age. Long story short: I can see the move if it was becoming untenable for him to stay, but suggesting that he was one of the worst players in baseball is just asinine.

    Comment by Houston Jimenez — August 16, 2011 @ 10:25 pm

  39. People citing UZR without realizing how many games it takes to normalize? Cool!

    Comment by Gendo — August 17, 2011 @ 1:55 am

  40. I think it’s clear Delmon should have been moved prior to the waiver deadline. Even if all you could have picked up was a box of baseballs or rosin bags, it would have been better than (a) trading within the division and (b) forcing yourself to only deal with a waiver team. Knowing that you’ll have to face Delmon 20 times a year…and potentially have him tee off on your pitching (perhaps not, of course, but this *could* be the motivating tonic for Delmon) I’m not sure I would have been willing to float him out on waivers.

    Buffet Bill missed on the opportunity to unload in July. Knowing that, he should have just held onto him for the rest of the year, taken Delmon to arbitration, and then prioritized moving him in the offseason. The move in terms of value was hardly good nor was it terrible. BS should have just eaten the $1.2 until season’s end and then started shipping guys out who were poor contributors this year (Liriano is also on my “sell” list).

    Buffet is not a good GM and to me, the move was par for the course…reactionary, poor in timing and execution, and “meh” on result.

    Comment by Dickie Dunn — August 17, 2011 @ 2:58 am

  41. BR, what would have been your idea for replacing a 24 year old, right-handed bat who appeared to be on his way to finding his power stroke with an .810 OPS for $5mm or less?

    I still don’t think it was an idiot move to hang on and hope for the best in 2011 because it was so cheap at the time and Young has/had age on his side.

    Comment by TMW — August 17, 2011 @ 8:52 am

  42. Dickie, what if he’s bad the rest of the year, and no one wants him in a trade at $6MM+? Then you are either stuck with him, or cut him w/o getting two warm bodies.

    Comment by mike wants wins — August 17, 2011 @ 8:56 am

  43. I don’t know how long everyone here has been reading Gleeman or if they are even actually reading the columns before they comment, but Gleeman’s analysis of Twins (and other) players is based on sabermetrics. I will admit that it took me some time to get over my reliance on traditional statistics, but I eventually came to realize that WAR and other “new” stats are the most objective and most accurate measurements of a player’s ability.

    So when I (or Gleeman or anyone else) “suggests” that Delmon Young is one of the worst players in baseball, its not because we don’t like him. Its because that is born out by his statistics. If the “stretch” is using objective measurements of Young’s performance, than yes, he is terrible.

    Comment by Pedro Munoz — August 17, 2011 @ 9:42 am

  44. Gleeman’s analyses of the Twins are based on sabrmetrics, scouting, and ‘traditional’ statistics. Basing evals of a player strictly on SABRmetrics alone –one layer of information–would be folly.

    As an example, Ryan Vogelsong had a WAR of -0.7, -1.6, -0.1, -0.5 from ’03 to ’06. Then, after pedestrian stints in Japan and the International League as a 33 year old, he resurfaces and now has a WAR of 3.4. His sabr stats were just as ugly as his ‘traditional’ stats before his breakout year and he followed a highly non-traditional career path. There’s no way anyone basing their analysis of Vogelsong on advanced stats alone picks up on him.

    Young has yet to put together a season that would satisfy those who rely exclusively on advanced stats or even the old school ones. It is fair based on his WAR to say that as of now he has not been a productive major leaguer over the majority of his career. However, throwing him under the bus at age 25 when he’s shown that he can be productive and even carry a team offensively in stretches seems excessive. Sometimes changes of scenery trigger improvements. Sometimes it’s a small mechanical adjustment. Meeting the right coach, growing up, etc.

    I think saying he hasn’t lived up to his potential is a more accurate statement. He may not, but stranger things have happened. Which is why sabrmetrics are just one piece of the puzzle, not the answer.

    Comment by Houston Jimenez — August 17, 2011 @ 1:12 pm

  45. Yo Dickie, when a player has a gigantic MiLB track record that shows poor ISO, poor on base skills and awful strikezone judgement that one year OPS spike is what we call an outlier.

    Delmon swings at about 40% of pitches outside the zone. He’s never going to get on base consistently.

    Comment by Gendo — August 17, 2011 @ 1:56 pm

  46. Houston:

    What potential? He is exactly what is MiLB/MLB numbers say he should be: a free swinging dude with no strikezone judgement. .290/.323/.427 There’s nothing there to indicate any hope of a bump. He’s only regarded as having potential due to his draft position.

    I can’t stress this enough. For his career he’s swung at 40.4% of pitches outside the strikezone. That’s worse than Jeff Francouer. He’s not suffering from bad luck or a lack of time to develop he has a fundamentally flawed approach at the plate.

    He is a bad player.

    Comment by Gendo — August 17, 2011 @ 2:02 pm

  47. Here is a link to the 2003 draft in which Young went first.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2003_Major_League_Baseball_Draft

    A few of those guys are stars, but most are mediocre players and some never even made it to the big leagues. All of them, however, were at one point deemed to have enough potential to draft them in the first round and to pay them big signing bonuses. The point is that there is a lot of potential out there, but potential doesn’t win games and teams have to make decisions all the time about whether that potential is ever going to be realized.

    When teams let guys with potential go, there is always the possibility that the player will finally come into his own somewhere else. But for every Ryan Vogelsong – a player who sucked for a number of years then later turned it around – there are dozens of players who suck and continue to suck. When you have had as much playing time as Young, the chances of a player turning it around are very slim.

    Vogelsong was with the Pirates for a number of years and was terrible. He was let go and then five years later rematerialized with the Giants and is pitching well. I don’t think the Pirates or anyone else is regretting the decision to let him go based on his recent success.

    Comment by Pedro Munoz — August 17, 2011 @ 3:32 pm

  48. By the time the Twins got him he had a statistical track record. They should not have cared where he was drafted but instead what the numbers said.

    They said RUN

    Comment by Gendo — August 17, 2011 @ 7:01 pm

  49. Gendo

    Said bad player just had a nice series against the Twins, hitting in the three hole for them, and should continue to produce now that he’s got lineup protection. Hitting ahead of Miguel Cabrera is a whole lot different. Let’s check back here by the end of the year and see what the #’s for DET look like.

    When the Twins acquired young he was only 21 years old (!) and had just finished second in the ROY voting after driving in 93 runs and hitting .288 with 13 HRs. I’m not defending the trade–it clearly was a poor one, even at the time it seemed questionable–and I’m not disagreeing that the zone judgement/low on base #’s are scary, but are you telling me that at 21 you knew definitively based on the numbers that there was no chance he was going to be a productive big league hitter? No way.

    Basing an eval of a 21 year old player on stats alone is reckless. Check out this guy’s abysmal WAR from 2004-2009. No chance he’ll hit, the numbers say so. Wretched on base %’s. Turn the page.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/b/bautijo02.shtml

    Comment by Houston Jimenez — August 17, 2011 @ 10:44 pm

  50. Line up protection is not real and you just cited a sample size of like 3 ABs aaaaaaaaah

    Comment by Gendo — August 17, 2011 @ 11:47 pm

  51. Lineup protection may not be real in a purely abstract, self referential world of statistical fantasy, but it is in the game of actual baseball. Players, coaches, anyone involved in the game know this. Batters hitting in front of feared hitters get better pitches to hit because you can’t pitch around them to get to the next, weaker hitter. This is elementary in baseball. The lineup you are in affects your production.

    Basing your evaluations on stats alone is as foolhardy as not using stats at all. I’m not stupid or suggesting that 3 games is a valid sample size. Hence the comment “let’s check back at the end of the year”. I understand that there’s a certain romance in thinking you have it all figured out based on advanced stats. It’s new, you feel like you’re seeing things in a way the others aren’t, makes you feel like an expert. Much like I’m sure the moneyball guys smugly thought they had it all figured out when that movement was at its peak.

    If you’re responsible in analyzing players, you see stats as one very important layer of info–one that is foolish to neglect, including advanced stats– but not the whole picture. Vogelsong and Bautista are two examples that you can’t get careless or think stats tell you everything about a player.

    Take the last word if you like, good luck.

    Comment by Houston Jimenez — August 18, 2011 @ 1:16 am

  52. I’ll give you a link instead:

    http://www.sabernomics.com/sabernomics/index.php/2004/09/the-protection-externality-it-doesnt-exist/

    Comment by Gendo — August 18, 2011 @ 2:31 am

  53. Thanks for the article. It’s interesting.

    I think we should ask MLB hitters, managers, and coaches what they think of the conclusions. My guess is they wouldn’t agree. Good read tho.

    Comment by Houston Jimenez — August 18, 2011 @ 2:49 am

  54. In the debate game we call that logical fallacy an argument from authority, Houston.

    Baseball players think all kinds of dumb things. As an example basically every ballplayer you talk to will tell you corking the bat adds power. That’s been proven conclusively false. Corking the bat lowers the natural frequency of the bat and reduces the amount of energy that can be transferred from bat to ball.

    Baseball players think that wearing magical copper bracelets will align the ions in their blood stream and make them healthier.

    The fact is that if protection was a real phenomenon there would be a spike in the stats to show it. There isn’t which means it is a statistically negligible factor.

    The only thing the lineup around you can impact is RBIs which is part of why RBIs are a dumb stat.

    Comment by Gendo — August 18, 2011 @ 3:01 am

  55. That was hilarious. You made my day, thanks.

    In the spirit of preserving the high quality content of this site, I’ll refrain from further posts, since you clearly have baseball figured out to a degree that not even the players themselves do. And here I was, lil’ ol me, thinking MLB players knew more about the game than some self-aggrandizing know it all on a blog showing off that he likes advanced stats. I hope one day you can share your thoughts with some big leaguers and see how they react. I’d pay 10 bucks to see that.

    I”m out, good luck.

    Comment by Houston Jimenez — August 18, 2011 @ 1:58 pm

  56. “In the spirit of preserving the high quality content of this site, I’ll refrain from further posts”

    Thank god. We can only stand so much asshattery on one thread.

    Comment by Pedro Munoz — August 18, 2011 @ 3:51 pm

  57. Now you’ve moved onto ad hominem. You’re not good at this. :(

    Comment by Gendo — August 18, 2011 @ 5:00 pm

  58. “In the debate game we call that logical fallacy an argument from authority, Houston.”

    An authority. I guess that’s a label you’ve never been accused of, eh?

    “Baseball players think all kinds of dumb things. As an example basically every ballplayer you talk to will tell you corking the bat adds power. That’s been proven conclusively false. Corking the bat lowers the natural frequency of the bat and reduces the amount of energy that can be transferred from bat to ball.”

    Oh really?

    http://articles.sfgate.com/2003-06-05/sports/17495422_1_baseball-bat-corked-bat-barrel-end

    “Baseball players think that wearing magical copper bracelets will align the ions in their blood stream and make them healthier.”

    In the debate game we call that logical fallacy a non sequitur, gendo.

    Some statgeeks were magical copper bracelets too, but I think we should examine what they have to say, rather than dismiss them based on a copper bracelet.

    “The fact is that if protection was a real phenomenon there would be a spike in the stats to show it. There isn’t which means it is a statistically negligible factor.”

    Your words do not constitute facts. Cannot, in fact, constitute facts. It would be impossible to prove lineup protection does, or does not, exist, because there can be no test of the alternative. You can only know what a player hits with, or without, protection, and cannot know what would have happened had the opposite situation occured under the same circumstances.

    “The only thing the lineup around you can impact is RBIs which is part of why RBIs are a dumb stat.”

    You have, indeed, just contradicted yourself. If lineup construction affects RBIs, then it has to, by definition, affect the number of runs scored. Or are you claiming that if a team had the pitcher hit in Albert Pujols spot, and vice versa, that St Louis would score exactly the same number of runs?

    You sir, are a pompous jerk. What’s worse, you are a pompous jerk who doesn’t even know enough to argue intelligently.

    Comment by citizen — August 18, 2011 @ 10:58 pm

  59. Hi citizen:

    You’re conflating concepts here. I never said anything about run production. If a player hits *after* other players who get on base a lot of course they’re going to get more RBIs just by virtue of more opportunities. That has nothing to do with the concept of protection which has to do with a given player hitting *before* a feared hitter.

    The theory is that because the pitcher doesn’t want to pitch to that feared hitter he won’t nibble around our protected batter and will give him better pitches to hit.

    This has not been able to be proved statistically. RBIs would have nothing to do with this. You’d want to look at a stat like wOBA.

    Your Albert Pujols example is, since we’re continuing this trend, a straw man. You are defeating a point I never made. I’m not sure if that’s intentional or if you’re just misunderstanding me.

    As for the corked bat issue I would encourage you to read The Physics of Baseball and to check out additional studies like this one:

    http://www.kettering.edu/physics/drussell/bats-new/corkedbat.html

    As for the comments I made on baseball players and their kooky beliefs that was of course silly, but all I was saying is them being baseball players does not give them the authority to say things are true just by virtue of that authority.

    Certainly not in a sport with the wealth of data like baseball has.

    And for the last point of course you can’t prove lineup protection doesn’t exist. You can’t prove a negative. However it would be accurate to say there is no statistical evidence to prove it exists, so we discount it.

    It’s like I can’t *prove* there’s no God but that’s silly, we all know there’s no God.

    Comment by Gendo — August 18, 2011 @ 11:35 pm

  60. Gendo

    You might have more success getting people to consider your ideas if you weren’t writing like a pompous condescending jerk. None of your ideas are that novel. Anyone reading this site is at least somewhat familiar with sabrmetrics.

    You seem to fancy yourself as some brilliant baseball analyst. So far the only thing we’ve seen are some pretty iffy arguments and a link to someone else’s work you pasted. The posters disagreeing with you are making some valid points. You may be as well, buy they’re getting lost because of the smug nature if your posts.

    Seems like youre itching for a fight or just out to try to impress peoe It aint working. Let’s have some discussion thats productive, theres enough trolls out there already.

    Comment by Elton — August 19, 2011 @ 3:38 am

  61. I re-read all of Gendo’s comments and I’m not sure where the pompous jerk part comes in. Contrary to your claim, Elton, the posters disagreeing with Gendo are not making valid points. They are mostly spouting nonsense. This is my favorite bit in the post by Citizen:

    “Your words do not constitute facts. Cannot, in fact, constitute facts. It would be impossible to prove lineup protection does, or does not, exist, because there can be no test of the alternative. You can only know what a player hits with, or without, protection, and cannot know what would have happened had the opposite situation occured under the same circumstances.”

    Wow. Just wow. Everyone who read that paragraph is now dumber for doing so.

    I also enjoyed the part where Elton mocks Gendo’s link by pointing out that it was someone else’s work. Does that mean that I can’t argue, for example, the theory of gravity because someone else came up with it? An iffy argument is not one like Gendos’ – which was supported by the study he linked to – but the ones by those he disagrees with, which seemingly were pulled out of their asses.

    I think Gendo has been more than patient given what he has had to respond to. While everyone reading this site is “somewhat familiar” with sabermetrics, its pretty clear that a number of people don’t understand them at all.

    Comment by Pedro Munoz — August 19, 2011 @ 10:30 am

  62. I think more accurately, there’s a couple of self-aggrandizing windbags on here who enjoy hearing themselves talk about sabrmetrics.

    Someone hit the gong, this discussion is over.

    Comment by Elton — August 19, 2011 @ 1:30 pm

  63. I just want you to love me, Elton.

    Comment by Gendo — August 19, 2011 @ 2:23 pm

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