Saturday, June 09, 2007

Out Of His Mind

Dmitri Young went 3 for 5 last night, giving him a season high .337 batting average, which is second in the league.

Over the last three weeks, we've seen a player as hot as any that I can remember, and yet we're hearing almost nothing out of it. He doesn't have the flash of Ichiro or the pedigree of Tony Gwynn, yet he's doing exactly what those guys are doing, just with 100 and 25 more pounds respectively.

On May 7, Dmitri was in a terrible slump, thanks to foot and leg problems which were preventing him from run, and apparently hampering the base he used to swing. He sat out, save for a few PH appearances, for 11 days, resting up and getting healthy.

He returned to the lineup on May 18, with a 2-3 against the Orioles. In those 19 games since, he's batted .507. That's stunning. His on-base % is .548 (Over a full season, .548 would be the 4th highest of all time), and he's slugging .716. To put his 1.264 OPS over that stretch in perspective, were he able to do that over the course of a season, he'd be the only person not named Bonds, Ruth or Williams in the top 12.

Over his last 73 plate appearances, we've seen a stunning display. And I don't think any of us have really appreciated it because he's not doing it with stunning displays of power, and we don't picture him as an artist with the bat like Ichiro or Gwynn. But what he's been doing is every bit as impressive.

In 2004, Ichiro had a 74 plate appearance streak where he batted .514.

I'm not facile enough with databases to figure out who else has had a streak like this over such a long period of time. If any of you know how to do that, let me know. I'd love to see the results.

What I've loved about watching Young hit is that he seems to be in complete control of the strike zone. I'm not really sure he has a weak point now. I don't want to call him a free-swinger, because there's a negative connotation to that, and he has walked 20 times so far. But when you watch him, he's not overly passive. He sees the ball, hits the ball, and impressively does what he needs to with it. He's not trying to pull the outside fastball; he's going the other way with it and ripping it down the line. When he gets the breaking stuff inside, he's ripping it up the middle, back through the box. When he gets something hard inside, he's turning those massive, meaty hips and pulling the ball. He hasn't hit .500 with cheap bleeders. He's had legit hits all over the ballpark, even if he hasn't been hitting for a ton of power.

Dmitri Young: Singles hitter?!

Scary, but that's what he's done, as well as anyone has in recent memory.

On the season, Young is up to .337/ .408/ .511, good for a career-high 147 OPS+ -- where he ranks 6th in the league. A 147 OPS+, coincidentally, is 1 point higher than Nick Johnson's team-leading number from last year.

It's been fun watching him, and I'm glad that he's been able to put some of his personal demons behind him. Now hopefully Bowden can pay the ol' guy back by getting him into a pennant race. The Twins could sure use a DH... By raw OPS, he'd be an improvement on all but 3 AL DHs. There should be a market for him. Now that the draft is over, let's see if Bowden can work his trade magic again.

14 Comments:

  • Now you probably jinxed him by talking about the unmentionable hot streak!

    By Blogger MissChatter, at 6/09/2007 11:53 AM  

  • Dmitri has always been a .300 hitter, but he's just never been able to stay healthy. We better trade him before he has a season-ending injury.

    Also, you forgot about GUZMANIA and his batting title SS numbers.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6/09/2007 1:23 PM  

  • Has anyone else noticed that the start of Dmitri's hot streak coincided with the Nats switching to healthy food in the clubhouse? Doesn't seem to have helped Ray King, though...

    By Blogger An Briosca Mor, at 6/09/2007 5:25 PM  

  • sheesh and people told me earlier this year he wasn't even worth having in the lineup because he can't dig out low throws! i told ya dameathook could rake!

    and, as anon points out, the key is his newly found value to AL teams needing another bat at DH and, yes, 1B. hello yankees!

    By Blogger Bill, at 6/09/2007 6:00 PM  

  • Well, Dmitri is a better DH than 1B, so a trade to the AL should net a pretty decent prospect.

    Nats are collecting pitchers, and you can see options for a good starting five going into next year, and an even better rotation after that.

    What about adding a CF for next year to give the young pitchers a boost? Maybe Andruw is not out of the (monetary) question if he keeps hitting under .250? Add him to Nick and Zim, and you have a lineup.

    The team is conserving money for the future. However, the Nats are increasing ticket prices $5 to $10 for the pretty good seats near the infield, using the excuse of the new stadium.

    Hey owners: The taxpayers of DC GAVE you the stadium, so the ticket increase is all gravy. This gravy can free up some money to get a still-youthful CF who can hit, the biggest "need" right now.

    By Anonymous Ed, at 6/10/2007 11:33 AM  

  • Of note, the two largest revenue sources used to pay for the new stadium:

    1) Taxes on tickets and concessions and everything Nats fans buy in the stadium district

    2) A tax on certain large-revenue business.

    1 certainly isn't coming from the city, per se. Fans are, in effect, paying for their own stadium.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 6/10/2007 11:38 AM  

  • As a DC resident, I know of lots of DC small business owners, including several minority owners, who painfully pay the gross receipts tax. The businesspeople are not all suburbanites who come into DC to make money. And even if they are, this is a tax revenue source that could be used to fight poverty and do other good things. No need to thank DC, but this could maybe be acknowledged a little. It is not all hot dog money.

    By Anonymous Ed, at 6/10/2007 11:51 AM  

  • I think I acknowledged as such, didn't I? If I was trying to be dishonest, I'd have just left it out.

    Now whether the city would have the political muscle to implement the tax to fight poverty (and whether the solution requires tax money) is a completely different debate that's best left for a different blog. ;)

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 6/10/2007 12:27 PM  

  • Chris, thanks, that's an excellent response.

    When the Lerners bought the franchise, they didn't pay all cash, but leveraged much of the cost.

    It is the same way for DC baseball stadium financing. The business taxes levied by DC enable the fan portion of the financing to come into play. DC had to step up with the "down payment" to make it happen, when VA or MD wouldn't.

    I have good friends who have a small DC wholesale electronics business, and they shared their numbers with me on this topic. Since it is wholesale, profit margins are small. Yet they pay tax on their gross receipts. After cost of goods sold, wages, rent, etc., there is not much left over. Then comes the new baseball tax. The several thousands of baseball tax they pay amount to the same thing as if you or I were to write a check for many extra thousands, beyond our usual tax bite. They cannot increase prices or their clients would go to MD or VA wholesalers.

    I appreciate your understanding this. It is not just a painless big business tax for DC.

    By Anonymous Ed, at 6/10/2007 3:37 PM  

  • That's the hidden part of it.

    I remember that when the topic was first broached, the Post (or maybe the Times, back when dammit, what's his name? Eric something -- who went on to the Business Journal -- was at the Times, they did FAR AND AWAY the best stories on this topic)

    Where was I?

    Oh, they did a story about people like your friend and some car dealers... places where there's a small profit margin, and profit is predicated on volume. They're the ones suffering under this

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 6/10/2007 5:30 PM  

  • There are a lot of players whose hitting drops off when they're DH-ing. What's even better is that Dimitri's not one of them; his performance as a DH is comparable to his overall performance.

    By Anonymous Simon Oliver Lockwood, at 6/10/2007 10:01 PM  

  • Elijah Dukes....Very Exciting.

    By Blogger RPS, at 6/11/2007 12:46 AM  

  • Elijah Dukes is a terrible choice.

    I don't think the headaches he causes will be worth whatever his production is on the field - especially if he ends up killing someone like I fear he will.

    No on Dukes. Jose Guillen was bad enough.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6/11/2007 12:56 AM  

  • By Blogger Sneakers hobbies, at 10/28/2009 9:49 AM  

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