An (Almost) Unbiased Look at Michael Young
Young’s proponents tout his numerous all-star game appearances, his career .300 batting average, his 200 hit seasons, and his longevity. All of those (except, possibly, the all-star nods) have merit. Young has certainly put together quite a career at the plate. On the other hand, he rarely walks, grounds into more than his fair share of double plays, and doesn’t have a lot of power. His defense is also suspect, to say the least. Sure he won a gold glove, but that was years ago and probably not deserved anyway. His supporters also like to bring up his stellar professionalism and clubhouse leadership. We don’t get to know the details of what happens behind the clubhouse door, so this part can’t be evaluated very well. While teammates rarely speak ill of each other, they also don’t have to go out of their way to praise the leadership of others as they seem to with Young. I take that as an indication that there must be something to the claims.
On the other hand, Young’s detractors focus on his poor defense, propensity for grounding into double plays, and trade demands in previous offseasons. While it can’t be denied that his defensive skills have declined, he’s not quite the butcher in the field that he’s made out to be. I certainly don’t want him donning the fielder’s glove on a regular basis, but he is serviceable as a utility infielder. As far as the double plays go, he’s guilty as charged. Young grounds into a lot of them. However, that didn’t stop him from hitting .338 and driving in 106 runs in 2011. No matter how progressive a stat head may be, that’s impressive. It’s also true that he demanded to be traded…twice. However, by all accounts his problems were with the front office and have never influenced his relationships with the players or coaching staff, or his approach to the game.
It seems everyone you speak to is on one side or the other. It’s a lot like talking about a politician. Both sides spin the facts to support their view of the guy. There is no middle ground. Well, almost none. I represent that middle ground. I’ve never been a Michael Young fan. That’s not to say I don’t like him; he’s just never really been one of my favorite players. I’ve always thought he came by the “face of the franchise” moniker by default. He was the only steady fixture through some really rough years. I also have never really found him to seem that fan friendly. When interviewed he says all the right things, but seems to have a bit of a chip on his shoulder. That being said, he does have a workman like approach to the game which I’m always a sucker for.
So which guy is Michael Young? Is he a great hitter that is the guiding hand of the team, or is he a horrible fielding, double play prone malcontent? Like most things, he’s somewhere in the middle. Young isn’t a perfect player, but a perfect player doesn’t exist. You have to take some bad with the good. Whether you think he contributed or not, his play hasn’t kept his team from going to the World Series two straight years, and whatever team issues he has had have been handled internally.
I think Young still has something he can contribute to the best team in baseball. I won’t be buying a number 10 jersey or scrambling to buy a ticket to his retirement game, but I’ll continue to cheer for him as long as he’s wearing a Ranger uniform.