August 12, 2012 posted by Chuck Anderson

Position Battles – Arizona CF

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Chris Young, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks

Chris Young was one of April’s most dynamic fantasy performers but since a shoulder injury derailed him for a month he struggled.  Arizona gave him plenty of time to get into his early groove again, but as August dawned they decided to significantly reduce his playing time.  Since Thursday, July 26 Young has started eight of sixteen games.  Gerardo Parra played center field in the other eight contests, and started one game each in left and right field.  Parra has not started when the opposing pitcher is left-handed.

Even counting eleven scorching hot April games Young is having a sub-standard offensive year.  His OBP and SLG are professional lows.  This could be attributed to continuing shoulder issues, but other statistics remain very consistent.

2009 0.44 18.2% 10.2% .187 0.47 9.1%
2010 0.51 22.0% 8.3% .195 0.68 12.4%
2011 0.58 26.5% 9.7% .183 0.65 9.5%
2012 0.52 23.7% 7.2% .205 0.58 11.8%

Young has a .276 career BABIP and it is .232 this season.  His high fly ball rate plays a part, and in the past he also featured one of the highest infield fly ball rates in the game.  That is not the case in 2012, as his 11.8% is a career low.  Fewer popups should give his BABIP a boost, all other factors equal, but Young’s speed is grading much slower.  His 3.5 speed score matches notable burners Casey Kotchman and Jhonny Peralta.  His infield hit rate, 14% last year is only 3.7%.  Finally, after stealing fifty combined bases in 2010 and 2011 he has only six thefts.

Among the discouraging news there is a ray of hope.  His ISO is (barely) a career high and he is accomplishing that while making contact as well as he ever has.  His swinging strike rate is down and he nosed his overall contact rate over 80% for the first time.  With four consecutive very similar seasons and his twenty-ninth birthday approaching a resounding breakout is improbable but his hitting may yet improve.

Simply replacing Young with Parra is not an offensive upgrade.  Parra has a career 90 wRC+ and even in a down year Young managed a 92.  Parra has less power but OBPs of .357 and .345 over the last two seasons.  Although he is younger he brings no advantage on the bases.  Considering his 12/8 SB/CS he deserves the red light.  He is comparable to Michael Brantley as a fantasy player, one that a standard league team can use, but would rather improve from.

The platoon arrangement appears to work towards each hitter’s strength.  Parra has a 112 wRC+ against righties (.341 BABIP) and just a 40 wRC+ (.250 BABIP) against southpaws.  Young is slightly more even, 77 wRC+ vs. RHP (.198 BABIP), 113 wRC+ vs. LHP (.284 BABIP).  Neither is succeeding in August, however, as both are hitting under .200.

The way they are splitting time neither Young nor Parra has much fantasy value.  No matter how the year plays out Young will be ranked higher going into 2013.  His power potential is still much greater even if he is no 20/20 threat.  He is a late round pick in 10-12 team mixed leagues.


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