Delmon Young May Be the Rays Playoff X-Factor

By David Hill

When Delmon Young was released by the Philadelphia Phillies, it may have been fair to wonder if he had reached the end of the line. He posted a hollow .261/.302/.397 batting line for the Phillies, while displaying less mobility than the average statue in the outfield. At only age 27, he appeared as though his opportunity to produce in the majors may have already passed him by.

Then the Rays came calling, seeking additional outfield depth. Not only did Young find himself back with the team that originally drafted him, but with a team that has a history of resurrecting careers. Hitters such as James Loney and Casey Kotchman were able to find themselves once again with the Rays, so why not try the magic once again?

As with so many of these players that are considered almost afterthoughts, the Rays were able to get more from Young then many may have anticipated. While Young only hit at a .258 clip, he was able to get on base and started hitting for power, with three home runs in 62 September at bats.

Young also got hot at the right time for the Rays, driving in a run in each of his last five games. He hit two of his home runs in that stretch, and continued his torrid run in the Rays playoff game against the Indians, hitting a home run to lead off the third inning to give the Rays their first lead. That home run just continued a trend for Young over the past couple of years, as he has gotten hot in October. He has nine career home runs in the postseason now, with all of them coming in the last two years. Young was also the ALCS MVP last season, when he hit two home runs with a .353/.421/.765 batting line for the Tigers. Perhaps that ability to hit in the postseason was another reason why the Rays went after Young. Certain players just seem to step up their game when the playoffs come around, and Young may have turned into that type of player.

In the postseason, unheralded players have a tendency to come through and alter the outcome of a series. Delmon Young has been a playoff X-factor before and he’s primed to pull off the feat again in a Rays uniform.