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Key Stats: Delmon Young crushed his career highs in doubles and home runs last season. After just 3 MLB seasons and only at the age of 24 heading into last season, many people thought he would never amount to much more than an average to below average fantasy option. Young finished 51st in the Yahoo game last year thanks to the aforementioned increase in extra base hits and 112 RBI. There are those people that would contend that RBI is the least reliable stat for a player to fall upon year after year because so much is outside of the player’s control. And to that end there is some truth. Young hit .391 with the bases loaded and .355 with RISP – way above his normal numbers. Yet there is hope that he can stay somewhat close to those numbers knowing that the Twins got nothing from Justin Morneau in the second half and Morneau would typically hit in front of Young.

Skeptics Say: As great as last year was for Young, he actually had the lowest line drive rate of his career. Now that number did show up in his BABIP, and one positive result of the lower line drives was that he was hitting more fly balls, and thus more home runs.

After stealing 10 and 14 bases respectively in 2007 and 2008, Young has only 7 steals combined in the last two seasons.

Peer Comparison: Young holds a lot more value in a traditional 5×5 league than he would in a league that counted OPS or OBP instead of batting average as the fifth category. That’s what happens when your walk rate is one of the ten lowest among MLB qualifiers. Yesterday Adam Dunn was the player to take, but Young is a better option than Dunn next year for his batting average. Look at how things change though when you take either OBP or OPS into consideration:

Dunn – 85 R 38 HR 103 RBI 0 SB .260 AVG
Young – 77 R 21 HR 112 RBI 5 SB .298 AVG

Although the five steals don’t look like much, when compared to Dunn’s steals they are a lot. The gaps in steals and average are enough to propel Young ahead of Dunn in a 5×5 league.

Dunn – 85 R 38 HR 103 RBI 0 SB .892 OPS .356 OBP
Young – 77 R 21 HR 112 RBI 5 SB .826 OPS .333 OBP

Clearly Dunn is the better player in a league that breaks away from tradition. I’ve made this point in the past, but if you are in these types of leagues, keep in mind that ESPN, Yahoo, etc. do not change their rankings based on what stats your league is using. This is a loop hole that makes players like Dunn severely undervalued and players like Young have inflated value.

Lineup Outlook: On the topic of RBI, Young spent more time as the Twins number seven hitter than any other part of the batting order. Based on his numbers, he is much better than a number seven hitter, but it’s safe to assume the Twins don’t want to move Joe Mauer from the third spot. If they want to go lefty/righty/lefty obviously Morneau hits fifth. Who hits fourth will be the big question. They could go with Young, but they would more likely go with Michael Cuddyer since he spent most of last season hitting out of the fifth hole. Not that my opinion counts for anything, but hitting Mauer second knowing that his greatest attribute to the lineup is OBP and not power, and moving everyone else up one spot would be the optimal lineup.

What They’re Saying: Yahoo: #26 Outfielder & #95 Overall; CBS Sportsline: #26 Outfielder; Tristan Cockcroft of #78 Overall; John Halpin of Fox Sports: #71 Overall; Mock Draft Central ADP: #103 Overall; Couch Managers: #82 Overall; RotoChamp: #183 Overall

Projection: In shallow leagues, Young could be the type of player you shuffle in and out a lineup. His .927 OPS against lefties last season is an important number to consider in leagues with daily lineup changes.
82 R 22 HR 106 RBI 6 SB .294 AVG .835 OPS

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