Tuesday, January 04, 2011

The Under-Appreciated Michael Young

Lots of sources are indicating that the Rangers are close to signing Adrian Beltre. The news must be accurate because Buster Olney wrote today in his blog about Young changing positions if Beltre signs. Who knows, the Angels or somebody might come in with a last minute offer and all of this conversation would be moot. But say Beltre does sign with the Rangers, Michael Young would again be pushed out of his position. He was the Rangers' second baseman when Alex Rodriguez played in Texas. He moved to short when A-Rod was traded to the Yankees. Then he was moved to third to make room for Elvis Andrus. Beltre will get third base if he signs. Then what for Young?

Young has stated that he will play anywhere for the Rangers, he just wants to play and he wants to remain a Ranger. But where? Moreland looks to have inherited first base. Hamilton is in left so Young can't go there. Kinsler is terrific at second, so Young can't go there. And while Andrus still hasn't proven he can be an effective offensive player, the Rangers will not give up defense for Young's offense. That leaves Young as a DH. But what about Vlad? The Rangers haven't signed him yet, but appeared close according to the reports. Is Vlad going to be allowed to walk so Young could DH? Vlad had a 122 OPS+ last year compared to Young's 105, so Vlad seems to be a better impact guy than Young. It will be interesting to see what the Rangers do here.

But while the answers to the above questions will not be answered overnight, the Fan thought this an appropriate time to appreciate Michael Young for a few paragraphs. Young has been a good player for the Rangers and a good teammate. He deserves his due. If he does end up as the Rangers' DH instead of Vlad, Young will do a good job. Young's career slash line in high leverage situations stands at: .309/.353/.455. That's pretty darn good.

Here is a list of some of Young's other accomplishments:

  • Young has compiled 200 hits or more five times in his ten years as a starter.
  • Young has led the league in batting (2005).
  • Young has hit more than 20 homers four times and has averaged 37 doubles a year for his career.
  • Young is a career .300 hitter.
  • Young has averaged 87 RBI a year and 99 runs scored.
  • Young batted .322 as recently as 2009.

There are certainly knocks on Young. He wasn't a good shortstop and he wasn't a good third baseman. He doesn't walk enough. His high batting average doesn't lead to a high OPS+ though a 105 career average is above league average. His ten year average is about 2.49 Wins Above Replacement a year. That means that according to his current salary, he is overpaid. He has abnormal splits over his career for home/away. He's about 120 points higher in OPS at home than he is away.

But there is something to be said for a guy who gets on base 250 times a year and is, based on what we hear, a good teammate who unselfishly worked with Elvis Andrus as the young shortstop transitioned to the majors. If Young has a peak season, he can be as good as an older Vlad season can be as a DH. Plus, he can play all four infield positions and is not a stranger to the outfield if needed. Young makes a lot of money to be a utility guy and probably too much to be a DH, but Michael Young has been a good player for a long time and nobody should forget his contributions to the Texas Rangers.

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