Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE
Wait, they actually signed him? What in the world ...
Delmon Young is still good for some five-tool trolling, alright. When this story was first published, he hadn't signed with the Phillies yet. Phillies fans were instructed not to worry. But since then, the story moved from rumor to news, so ... worry.
The original story had a headline of "Report: Phillies signing Delmon Young ...", and then the intro text read "... would be awesome." Trolling is the best, especially if it amuses only yourself.
Repeat, though: The Phillies actually signed Delmon Young to a one-year, $750,000 deal. Huh.
There was a claim in that original, no-longer-deceptive headline, though, and it's worth fleshing out. The claim is that Delmon Young signing with the Phillies would be awesome. And it is. There are a lot of reasons, but here are two:
1. The Internet
The Phillies might have the most amusing group of Twitterers in Internetland. Whether it's from Fan Since 09, Zoo With Roy, Bill Baer, or The Good Phight, every Phillies action has an equal, opposite, and smartass reaction. The Phillies' first-half woes last season were a drag for Phillies fans, but they were great theater for the uninvolved. Anger and comedy like this needs to bubble forth from awful-player springs.
With every Delmon Young misplay in the field, every swing at a ball in the dirt, every first-pitch out, Twitter will be a better place. For me. And since I have to stare at that ungodly timesuck all day for my job, at least I can get some cheap Delmon-related humor to go with it. But this point is just a lead-in to the real point, which …
2. Delmon in the field
Delmon Young is an outfielder!
Kind of! Though that hit was actually an RBI single from Barry Zito against Justin Verlander, so if it happened in Bizarro Land, maybe that means in our dimension, Delmon Young is a good outfielder? (Note: investigate later.)
Young in the National League will actually help him chase some records. When he was with the Twins, he was an abominable fielder, and that was when he was two years younger and a few pounds lighter. He was mostly a DH for the Tigers, so it's not like his reaction times are getting better. There's a decent chance that he'll be worse. His Total Zone for his career is -59, his UZR is -53.8, and Defensive Runs Saved says he's cost his team 39 runs over his career.
Don't believe those tricky stats? Well, let's go with the Fan Scouting Report, which gathers the scouting opinions from fans who watch all of their team's games. It's a wisdom-of-crowds project. How did Delmon rank?
Acceleration/First Few Steps: 9
Velocity/Sprint Speed: 19
Throwing Strength: 22
Throwing Accuracy: 11
Those are all on a scale of 0-100.
Young's best defensive asset, according to the people who watch him the most, is the strength of his throwing arm. Now watch that GIF again.
Or, watch this:
Also, it is my personal opinion that Delmon Young is probably not a good defensive outfielder.
But a job with a National League team will mean a lot of time in the outfield. And that would mean he will have a good shot at the worst WAR in history for a player with more than 5,000 plate appearances. He's at 0.8 WAR (FanGraphs) with 3,500 plate appearances, which puts him 23rd worst among all players with 3,000 or more. If he were to reach 5,000 plate appearances -- about three full seasons worth, give or take -- and accumulate negative-two wins in that time, he would pass Cub Stricker as the worst player to get more than 5,000 plate appearances.
An aside: If you think Cub Stricker is a sweet name, note that he was born "John A. Streaker."
The negative-WAR record is a made-up thing that only a nerd would care about (guilty), but considering where Delmon Young came from -- his first-overall, top-prospect, tools-laden past -- there wouldn't be anything more basebally than for him to set it. It would be a record that told you not to count your prospects until they hatch, that GMs and managers do the darndest things, and that a prospect pedigree and a few dingers will get certain guys more jobs and chances than they could rightfully expect.
It would also be a record that told you Delmon Young, relative to his peers, wasn't very good at baseball.
So Delmon Young to the Phillies? It will be interesting. Maybe even necessary. It's happening. When this post was first published, it was more of a "Nah ... they can't possibly ... can they?" Now it's a reality. A beautiful, horrifying reality. And it makes baseball more entertaining for 29/30ths of the baseball world.