I was a little surprised to see the news flash yesterday afternoon — Twins trade Delmon Young to Detroit. Surprised because I was starting to think they’d never deal him. Even more surprising to me was the fact that they traded him to the Tigers, a major rival of the Twins and the team that’s leading our division right now — the team the Twins are trying to catch. I was also surprised to learn the Tigers had claimed Delmon off of waivers several days ago. I hadn’t even heard that they’d put him on waivers.
Delmon is a very nice young man, but if that’s what they look for in a ballplayer, nearly anybody could be considered for a major league team. I had been told by baseball people — people who should know — that Delmon had the tools to be a great player, even a Hall of Fame player. That was after I complained about his poor play in the outfield. So, having heard that, I shut up and waited patiently to see if this would eventually show itself.
If Delmon had any strong points, they were with the bat. He did hit some home runs. He often hit singles and doubles in clutch-hit situations when the team desperately needed them … that is, when he wasn’t striking out. And he did that often in his early years. He did have a “break-out” period when it looked like he might be starting to live up to his potential.
And truth be told, he’s not the player he was. For the first couple years after the Twins obtained him, he struck out at the plate, and flailed around helplessly in left field. He usually looked like he was afraid of the ball, and of the left field wall. I was really thinking he was only DH material, so he wouldn’t have to embarrass his team in the field, but he really wanted to play the field, and the Twins seemed all too happy to let him try.
But in 2010, and in this season, I could see his fielding had improved. He no longer flailed around helplessly. No, he had improved to a below-average major league outfielder. His bat was still his strong suit. And that was still not so good most of the time. The Twins’ patience was apparently starting to wear thin, and it’s almost a relief now that the Tigers claimed him. I don’t know how many years they would have patiently waited for him to start living up to the hype. The fact is, he may never have lived up to it as a Twin … look at what happened to David Ortiz after he left the Twins. The Twins finally gave up on him; now he is an icon with the Red Sox.
Perhaps Delmon will become a Hall-of-Famer some day. Perhaps it will be with the Tigers. It won’t be with the Twins.
Good luck, Delmon! God bless, and may you have a great career.