Last year, it was Evan Meek. This year, it is Delmon Young. It seems that Buck Showalter has an unexplained obsession with a different player every year. Last season, Meek was often the last man in the bullpen, the one constantly sent to Norfolk, yet he was used in the most critical situations when in the majors. This season, in the midst of his worst offensive performance in his career, Young has batted fourth or fifth in the order for a total of 18 times, as well as starting in the outfield for 23 games. Let’s dig deeper into how Young has become this season’s version of Evan Meek.
First, let’s take a look at his offense. Young has always been a one-dimensional player, offering little other than his bat. The problem is that his bat is nothing special. Over his career, Young has a below-average wRC+ of 97. This season, his wRC+ is currently 80, the worst mark in his career. He has simply lost all he has to offer at the plate other than his ability to hit singles, which has given him an empty batting average of .287.
Young has a walk rate lower than Adam Jones, both this season and over his career, which is not something you can say about many batters. He also has the fifth lowest ISO among batters who have had at least 100 PA this season. Right ahead of him on the list is the 41-years-old Ichiro Suzuki. And this is the player Buck has batting in the middle of the lineup for the O’s.
There is also his defense. He has already made more starts in the outfield than he did last season. Anyone who watches the games can see how slow and cautious he approaches every fly ball, as if he is afraid to fall any moment. Although he has rated as average by both UZR and DRS so far this season, it is the result of an extremely small sample size. Over his career, both UZR and DRS estimate Young to have cost his team more than 50 runs in the outfield. Young is simple not an outfielder and should never appear in the field.
The only way I can justify Buck’s infatuation with Young is his empty batting average. Young only belongs to the lineup as a DH against a southpaw. However, he is unlikely to claim that role given the continued hot streak of Jimmy Paredes. As a result, there is little justification for keeping Young on the roster, and I would have been a lot happier if Young has been designated for assignment instead of Alejandro De Aza.