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Is Delmon Young About to Break Out?

Delmon Young, a former #1 pick in the ’03 draft, is viewed as failed prospect, but might he be ready to live up to some of that hype that once surrounded him? Perhaps.

His walk rate was 5.6% in ’08 and 2.9% in ’09. This season it has jumped up to 8%. Just in terms of raw numbers, Young has 10 walks this season in 112 at-bats. He had 12 in 395 at-bats all of last season. With the walks have come a decrease in strikeouts. Young posted an 18.3% strikeout rate in ’08 and a 23.3% in ’09. This season, however, he has cut that ’09 strikeout rate in half almost, with a 12.5% strikeout rate.

In terms of power, Young is also starting to find his stride. His isolated power is .188, a career high, this season. That places him in front of Carlos Pena and Kendry Morales and just behind Austin Kearns and Carl Crawford in the category. If you’re just looking at home runs, he’s hit 4 this season. That’s not too amazing, but the most he’s ever hit in one season is 13, so he could be in for a career year. His .438 slugging percentage is also a career high. His previous high was .425 in ’09.

What’s hurting Young right now is a .247 BABIP, which is helping drive his .250 batting average. In ’07, ’08, and ’09 he posted a .338 BABIP and his career BABIP, over almost 2,000 at-bats, is .334, so we have a decent idea of what his BABIP could rebound to. Once Young, a career .288 hitter, sees his BABIP rebound, he could see his some of his progress start to pay off.

We also have to keep in mind that Young was drafted straight out of high school. He’s 24 years old now; if he had gone to college for three years and then gone to the minors, we might just now be seeing his first year at the major league level, not his fourth. Either way, Young may be primed for a breakout season.