Pirates Notebook: Delwyn is not an upgrade over Moss

When the Pirates acquired Delwyn Young from the Dodgers, the thought was that Young would be given work at second base, to eventually take over as the replacement for Freddy Sanchez.

The latest talk on Young is that he should step in to the lineup right now. The difference is that, rather than stepping in at second, most people want him stepping in for Brandon Moss in right field.

Moss started the season hitting for a .203 average in the month of April. In the month of May it looked like he was turning things around, as he hit for a .305 average. The downside to this was that he only hit one home run in 82 at-bats. Now Moss is hitting .143 in June, although that’s mostly due to no hits in his last three starts (he was hitting .267 in the first four games of the month).

Meanwhile Young is hitting for a .338 average on the season, including a .476 average in the month of June. That follows a month of April where he hit for a .275 average, mostly playing in pinch hitting roles. It’s hard to say which player is truly the better hitter, as Delwyn has a limited amount of at-bats (77), and just one homer in that span. Moss has 169 at-bats, and one homer in that span.

On defense, Moss easily tops Delwyn. Brandon Moss ranks as the 6th best defensive outfielder in baseball according to the UZR ratings at FanGraphs. Delwyn ranks 146th of 214 total outfielders this year.

Both players followed similar paths before coming to Pittsburgh. Brandon Moss was stuck as a fourth outfielder in Boston before coming in the Jason Bay trade. Delwyn was a fourth outfielder with the Dodgers before being traded to the Pirates.

Before this season Moss had a .249 average with 8 homers in 261 at bats. Delwyn had a .267 average with 3 homers in 165 at bats.

Moss hit .282 with a homer every 27.33 at-bats in 656 at-bats at AAA. Delwyn hit .306 with a homer every 29.52 at-bats in 1240 at-bats at AAA.

Both players have shown the ability to hit in the minors, but coming in to this season both players have been inconsistent in the majors. Moss is strong defensively, but whatever value he brings on the field he has taken away at the plate so far. Delwyn is the exact opposite, as any value he brings at the plate is lost on the field.

The problem is that offensive production is obvious. Everyone sees how valuable a player is on offense. Defensive stats aren’t as apparent. So far this season Brandon Moss ranks 0.4 wins above replacement players. Delwyn Young ranks 0.1 wins above replacement players. Moss is slightly better, but neither player really stands out.

It really comes down to preference. Do you want the strong defense and the weaker hitting so far with Moss, or do you want the good hitting and the weak defense with Delwyn? Either way, both players have the same value, with Moss ranking slightly higher, and neither player standing out at a higher level like Freddy Sanchez or Andy LaRoche.

Personally I prefer Moss, simply because I’m more of a defense and pitching fan. Take a look at Texas from a few years ago as an example of how a team with good offense can lose. The Pirates have gone with a pitching and defense focus, after seeing a heavy offense last year, and I feel this year’s version is better than last year, for reasons I will detail tomorrow.

As for Moss and Delwyn, I appreciate the offense Delwyn has brought in the last few weeks, but I don’t think he’s a better option than Moss.

The MVP Tracker

The MVP Tracker is updated through yesterday’s win. Here are the top performers from today’s victory:

1. Ross Ohlendorf: .159 WPA
2. Andrew McCutche: .119
3. Eric Hinske: .096
4. Craig Monroe: .058
5. Sean Burnett: .049

Prospect Tracker

I’ve added Robbie Grossman, Tony Sanchez, Daniel McCutchen, and Daniel Moskos to the Prospects Tracker.

-Jeff Locke made his second start for Lynchburg, going four innings with five hits, two runs, five strikeouts, and one walk. Lynchburg won, but Locke didn’t get the decision.

-Pedro Alvarez went 0 for 4 with a walk and a run.

-Gorkys Hernandez didn’t start, but went 0 for 1 in a pinch hitting role.

-Robbie Grossman went 2 for 4, extending his hitting streak to ten games. This is the second time this season Grossman has achieved a ten game hitting streak.

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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