In a move that will certainly draw a lot of attention from baseball fans that like jokes, the Baltimore Orioles have signed Delmon Young to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. There had been rumors that the O’s were interested in Young, and now it’s clear they were true.
Young has become the subject of jokes among baseball fans everywhere due to his terrible defense, his draft bust status, his bad attitude and his tendency to avoid walks like the plague. I’m here to tell you that this deal is no joke — it is actually a great decision by the Orioles.
After losing Michael Morse to free agency, the Orioles were in need of a replacement designated hitter. Adding Young gives them an extremely cheap option to use as their designated hitter — preferably only against left-handed pitching. When looking at Young’s numbers, they don’t look great. If you look deeper, specifically at his splits, however, they show that he is a very good hitter against southpaws.
Young, surprisingly still just 28-years-old, hit .260/.307/.407 overall last season and is the owner of a career .282/.316/.423 triple-slash line. Against lefties, Young was slightly below average in 2013, hitting .261/.343/.341 in 102 plate appearances between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Tampa Bay Rays. He has a career .303/.341/.471 slash line with a 115 wRC+ against southpaws.
The addition of Young is good for a few reasons. It is essentially risk-free as it is just a minor league deal, and the Orioles won’t need to watch him play a single inning of defense thanks to the ability in the American League to employ a designated hitter. If Young hits in Spring Training, the Orioles will use him as a designated hitter; if he doesn’t hit, they can either cut him or take him into the regular season with a bit of a short leash. If the O’s use Young in the right situations, the move should work out positively for both sides.