Delwyn Young and BABIP

Pittsburgh Pirates vs Colorado Rockies in Denver

Last season, Delwyn Young was red-hot off the bench after Neal Huntington acquired him in an April trade. When Freddy Sanchez was dealt in July, the Pirates gave Young an opportunity to play every day at second base. He responded by slumping badly for the remainder of the season. Many attributed this nose-dive to the extra defensive work Young was putting in daily with Perry Hill.

Delwyn Young has lost count of how many hours he has spent working on his infield defense this season.

“It’s been a lot,” the Pirates new second baseman said with a smile.

Young has been first base coach and infield instructor Perry Hill’s pet project since being acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in an April 15 trade. In the early afternoons before nearly every night game, Young has worked on improving various aspects of second-base play.

It is very possible that Young was affected at the plate by this extra effort in the field. Fatigue can have a dramatic effect on a player’s swing. However, in all likelihood, Young was simply experiencing some regression to the mean. Via Young’s gamelogs on FanGraphs, here are his numbers before and after the trade deadline. I included his BABIP and expected BABIP (xBABIP), which I determined using this Simple xBABIP Calculator.

AVG OBP SLG BABIP xBABIP
4/17/2009 – 7/31/2009 .310 .375 .420 .410 .321
8/1/2009 – 10/4/2009 .222 .278 .344 .274 .316
Overall .266 .326 .381 .339 .319

It is clear that Young was playing well above his head the first half of the season. Even with his massive slump to finish the year, his overall BABIP was still higher than expected. I guess there is a chance that Young will improve on his numbers in his age 28 season. More likely, he is just Jose Bautista with much less defensive value.

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