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Delmon Young “accepting his walks, not expanding his strike zone”

Oct 2, 2013, 9:44 AM EDT

Delmon Young

File this under stuff that makes predicting playoff baseball a fool’s errand. Because Joe Maddon gave the quote in the headline in Marc Topkin’s article noting Delmon Young’s contribution to the Rays since joining the team in August.

And your first impulse is to mock. But then you go look and realize that since joining the Rays Young has walked six times in 70 plate appearances, or once every 11.6 plate appearances. For his career he’s walked once every 28.3 plate appearances.

No, that doesn’t mean he’s a changed man. It’s 70 freaking plate appearances, and we know what best explains that. But it does go to show you that the relatively small number of plate appearances any guy gets in the playoffs mean very, very little. Which, in turn, makes the playoffs really exciting and makes predicting their outcome a somewhat insane and impossible endeavor.

The smart money has Delmon Young swinging at the first pitch in a bad moment. But the fact that he could, quite conceivably, work an eight pitch walk to load the bases for Sean Rodriguez or James Loney or something in the ninth inning of an elimination game is kinda awesome. It’s baseball without the long view that the regular season causes us to usually take.

  1. chip56 - Oct 2, 2013 at 10:05 AM

    Actually it doesn’t mean that the number of plate appearances a guy gets in the playoffs means very little – it just means that you can’t base an evaluation of the player’s worth off of them.

    The appearances actually mean (in terms of relative worth) a great deal more than his 500 at bats during the regular season because of what’s on the line.

  2. steve7921 - Oct 2, 2013 at 11:13 AM

    please dear god, I hope he doesnt take a walk to get on base for Sean “Swing and Miss at Every Outside Breaking Ball” Rodriguez!!! James Loney..sure take your walk but hitting in front of S-Rod is like hitting in front of the pitcher!!

    • nbjays - Oct 2, 2013 at 11:53 AM

      Unless said pitcher is Zack Greinke :-)

    • buddaley - Oct 2, 2013 at 11:57 AM

      What data are you looking at?

      Sean is terrible against right handed pitchers but more than serviceable against lefties. To demonstrate, here is his performance against lefties, remembering that he is a part time player with some utility due to his versatility in the field.

      For his career, his line vs. lefties in 671 PAs is .252/.352/.398. That OBP is quite good. He has walked 10.7% of the time, quite good also, and struck out 21.7%, not good but not terrible.

      2012 was a poor year for Sean. His line was .228/.368/.287. Again, that OBP is excellent as he walked 15.7% of the time while only striking out 14% of the time in 127 PAs. Remember, I am only mentioning his line vs. LH pitchers as that is his primary role on this team.

      This year his performance was more in line with his career. Over 176 PAs his line was .252/.326/.419 with 7% BBs and 26% Ks. Those BB and K rates are worse than usual but not awful, especially as he hit for some power and continued to be useful in the field.

      His OPS+, even with his atrocious numbers against RH pitchers was about league average (98) and he earned .5 WAR according to BB-Ref despite his limited number of PAs. In fact, he has had a plus WAR every year since 2010. If a lefty is on the mound, Rodriguez is an asset at the plate. And Maddon only gave him 46 PAs against Righties this year to minimize his weakness.

      • steve7921 - Oct 2, 2013 at 12:53 PM

        “This year his performance was more in line with his career. Over 176 PAs his line was .252/.326/.419 with 7% BBs and 26% Ks. Those BB and K rates are worse than usual but not awful, especially as he hit for some power and continued to be useful in the field.”

        For the season, in 195 PA he had 17 BB and 59 SO with 5 HR’s.

        I rest my case!

        p.s. I dont look at the “data”, I watch him play and I never talked about his fielding!

  3. historiophiliac - Oct 2, 2013 at 2:13 PM

    Delmon Young is like a playoff bad penny that keeps showing up on contending teams.

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