Thursday, October 13, 2011

Revisiting Delmon's defense

Defense has never been one of
Delmon Young's strong suits.
The Detroit Tigers held a 2-0 lead into the sixth inning on Wednesday. Then, with a man on first, Ian Kinsler knocked a ball down the left field line, and Delmon Young had difficulty corralling it.

That Young is given to travails in the field is no revelation to Twins fans. He has always looked awkward in the outfield, and the advanced metrics have generally agreed.

But this was a weird season for Young, at least according to Baseball Info System's twin measurements of defense, plus-minus and runs saved.

I posted a comment just nine games into the season about Young's suddenly strong scores. At that point, BIS had Young as +4 in plus-minus, +3 in runs saved — astoundingly good given how incompetent he had been in the past on those scales. And I doubted that he could maintain it.

Those numbers actually improved slightly while he was with the Twins, to +5 in plus-minus, +4 in runs saved in 75 games in left field.

Then he was traded to Detroit. And in the 40 games Young played for the Tigers, he was -11 in plus-minus, -8 in runs saved. For the season in total, he was -6 in plus-minus, -4 in runs saved — which is far superior than his previous scores.

I have, frankly, a difficult time seeing why he would be a clearly above-average defensive left fielder for one team and revert to abysmal as soon as he was traded.

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