It's not that Delmon Young has never played in the field before. He has his entire career and for part of the 2012 season as well. So, writing Young's name into the left field spot of the lineup card really shouldn't be that big of a deal.
In this week's column for the Detroit News, I explored Jim Leyland's decision to keep Young's bat in the lineup, even when Detroit is playing in a National League Park. Young's bat has been hot as of recently -- he single-handedly accounted for more runs than the New York Yankees in the ALCS and earned ALCS MVP honors. But during the course of the season, he left something to be desired. Hitting .267 and .707 OPS (which adjusts to a below-average 89 OPS+) with no baserunning skill across 151 regular-season games in 2012 indicates that Young might not be as good as he appeared. A 4-for-17 (.235 BA, .513 OPS) in the ALDS doesn't help.
But again, the way Young hit in the ALCS ...
Ultimately, you have to see why Leyland wants to keep Young's bat in the lineup. If he can just keep hitting like that for four to seven more games, Young will go a long way toward helping his team to its first World Series title since 1984.
But if Young reverts to the batter he was all season -- and continues to play in the outfield with the same lack of skill that leads to unintentional entertainment -- the decision has the potential to blow up in Leyland's face.
A gamble, indeed.