Prior to going 3-for-4 on Monday, Delmon Young had not played in a game since June 16 when he came in as a pinch-hitter and hit a home run. After going 3-for-4 on Monday night, on Tuesday, Young was not in the starting lineup, but he did pinch-hit again and again contributed with a base hit and an RBI. So he hits a pinch-hit home run, sits for seven days, then he goes 3-for-4, then sits again the next day until the 9th inning when he gets yet another pinch-hit. In Wednesday’s game Delmon Young did not make an appearance. This whole not making an appearance thing has happened way too often for Delmon Young this year.
Now before I go any further let’s discuss the elephant in the room. I understand we’re not supposed to like Delmon Young. Why? Two reasons.
Reason One: On April 26, 2006 at the age of 20 while playing for the Durham Bulls, a AAA affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, Delmon Young threw his bat at an umpire after disagreeing with a called strike three. (I’m sure Oriole fans can imagine what it’s like to have a player hurl a bat at someone.) For Young purposefully chucking his bat at the umpire, he was suspended for 50 games.
Reason Two: Six years later, on April 27, 2012 Young, at this time a Detroit tiger, was out late in New York City and while being heavily intoxicated yelled an anti-Semitic slur. He confessed, apologized and was suspended for seven days.
These two isolated incidents play a significant role in why people don’t like Delmon Young. If you think this is worth not cheering for him in 2014 while he plays for the Baltimore Orioles, that’s fine. These actions are inexcusable, but he also is not the super-villain that he is often portrayed to be. It’s also interesting to note that Tampa Bay, the same team Young was playing for when he threw his bat at the ump in 2006, signed him again in 2013. The Rays knew the guy they were getting in Young and were willing to sign him again. Interesting.
However, this article is not a defense of Delmon Young the person though these incidences are important to discuss because they shape (or rather misshape) the discussion of Young as a ball player. And while everyone is discussing what a bad guy he is, they often miss what he has accomplished on the field.
Here are some things about Delmon you may have forgotten: Delmon Young has playoff experience… really, really good playoff experience. In 2012 he was named the ALCS MVP as the Detroit Tigers beat the New York Yankees to go to the World Series. Moreover, Young is the Detroit Tiger’s all-time leader for postseason home runs with nine. (Big deal it’s not as if the Tiger’s have had a ton of power hitters… oh but there is Al Kaline, Hank Greenberg, Cecil Fielder, Prince Fielder,Miguel Cabrera… okay maybe it is a big deal.)
Delmon Young has not only produced in short spurts on the big stage, but he also has done in consistently over a long period of time. In nine seasons, Young, while playing in over 1,000 games, has a career batting average of .283. That career average is better than the career averages of J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones, and Nelson Cruz (along with every other Oriole not named Nick Markakis). Meanwhile this year he’s second on the team in batting with a .320 average. Yet almost inexplicably (with the exception of recent additions Caleb Joseph and Nick Hundley), Young has played in the least amount of baseball games among those on the active roster. Yes, Ryan Flaherty and David Lough have played in more games than Delmon Young. Let that sink in for a moment.
Of course, I understand what limits Young’s playing time. Young is a DH and plays the corner outfield positions and with Pearce playing lights out, it’s difficult finding room for Young. I get it, but I also get that the manager’s job is to put the best team on the field to win, and Delmon Young, more times than not, will give your team the best chance to win. The Baltimore Orioles are a better baseball team with Delmon Young in the lineup, and they need to find ways to get him in the lineup more consistently.