31 October 2009
Offensively, Centerfield was the Diamondbacks' worst position in 2009, with a .219/.293 OBP/.379 SLG line. Chris Young was the primary CF, starting 121 games, while Gerardo Parra took over while Young was demoted to AAA for a month. Both players will be back in 2010 - will one of them be the starting CF in 2010, or will the Diamondbacks look outside the organization?
Let's start with an overview of the offensive stats for Young and Parra.
Chris Young (26), RHB
2009: 501 PA, 212/311/400, 15 HR, 42 RBI, 54R, 11/4 SB, 59 BB/133K
2008: 699 PA, 248/315/443, 22 HR, 85 RBI, 85R, 14/5 SB, 62 BB/165K
2007: 624 PA, 237/295/467, 32 HR, 68 RBI, 85R, 27/6 SB, 43 BB/141K
Gerardo Parra (22), LHB
2009: 491 PA, 290/324/404, 5 HR, 60 RBI, 59R, 5/7 SB, 25 BB/89K
2009 (AA): 130 PA, 361/469/491, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 23R, 7/4 SB, 22 BB/13K
2008 (AA-A): 526 PA, 286/358/416, 6 HR, 52 RBI, 61R, 28/13 SB, 47 BB/65K
2007 (A-A+): 597 PA, 313/357/425, 8 HR, 71 RBI, 75R, 26/11 SB, 34 BB/68K
Chris Young came to the Diamondbacks from the White Sox in December 2005 as the prime component of the Javier Vazquez trade. Since becoming the full time starter in 2006, he has seen his HR and SB totals decline for three consecutive years. After a 2 for 27 stretch brought his average down to .194, Young was sent back to AAA on August 9th. When he returned to the majors in September, he started off 1 for 17, but then caught fire, going 299/382/598 with 8 HR over the final 25 games.
There are many interesting aspects to Young's 2009 season. Among players with over 500 plate appearances, Young had the highest fly ball percentage in the majors at 55.6% (data from Fangraphs
). What was worse for Young was that of these fly balls, 22.4% were infield pop-ups, by far the highest rate in the majors (no one else was even over 18%). The culprit for Young was the high fastball; Young swings at high pitches out of the strike zone almost 10% more than average, and too many of these are resulting in pop-ups and weak fly balls. It remains to be seen if Young and the Diamondbacks can improve this part of his swing.
Gerardo Parra made the jump from AA to the Majors during the 2009 season. Parra is a well-rounded player with good bat speed, defensive instincts, and baserunning ability. The only aspect of his game that is missing is power. Although Parra hit for a much higher average than Young (.290 vs .212), their on-base (.324 vs. 311) and slugging percentages (.404 vs .400) were much closer. In the minors, Parra had only struck out only about 30% more than he walked, but that turned into a 3.6 ratio in the majors. Part of this was probably due to his jump all the way from AA.
Both players showed very large platoon splits in 2009. Parra hit 310/345/456 against RHP, but only 220/250/220 in 106 PA against LHP. Young had a 196/277/362 line against RHP, but hit 262/406/514 against LHP.
There is a lot of disparity in the rating of Chris Young's defense. Stats such as UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) at FanGraphs rate Young as below average, while scouts and fans generally rate him higher. In Tom Tango's "Scouting Report by the Fans"
, Young was rated "Good" or "Great" by 77 of 110 voters (70%). There seems to be general agreement that Young's arm is below average. Parra was rated higher by UZR, but only 43 of 80 voters (54%) rated Parra as "Good" or "Great", but with a strong throwing arm.
So what will happen in 2010? It looks like Chris Young will get the first chance to claim the CF job. His strong finish from 2009, as well as his 5yr/$28M contract, give the Diamondbacks reasons to want Young to succeed. Parra certainly showed that he can play at the play at the ML level, but would the D'Backs want him to be a part-time player at the age of 23, or a starter at AAA? Parra could also be in the mix for the LF job, but his speed and lack of power make him better suited to CF than LF. He would be an excellent 4th OF for the team, but he could still develop into more than that.