Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
The narrative of Michael Young being a completely awful baseball player has been an awful lot of fun.
I mean, all that nonsense about the leadership qualities, their perceived value to the win column, the defensive train wreck and the anemic bat… we’ve all been having a lot of fun with it. I love making Michael Young “leadership” jokes. They’re a hoot.
But lost in the narrative are some early, small sample-size facts.
Michael Young hasn’t been terrible. In fact, he’s been better than anybody had a right to think he would be.
With a walk and another hit last night in four plate appearances, Young now has a 12-game hitting streak and is hitting .333, with a .382 on-base percentage, an OPS of .827 and an OPS+ of 123 in 68 plate appearances.
While it is still early and the rules about small sample sizes should undoubtedly be taken into consideration here…
…these numbers are startlingly similar to the numbers he put up in 2011, in which he hit .338/.380 with an OPS of .854 and an OPS + of 125.
In 2011, he had 213 hits in 159 games. So far, he has 21 in 18 games.
Giggle if you want to, but at least SOMEBODY is placing the ball safely into the field of play with his bat.
And, while his range at third is laughable and he can sometimes look like a work in progress defensively, he hasn’t been as terrible as people feared.
Frankly, if people were expecting anything more from Young that what he’s given so far, I don’t know what to tell you.
Michael Young is hopefully just a one-year stopgap to Cody Asche. That’s the plan. And if the one-year stopgap ends up hitting over .300 and can manage to keep that WAR in positive territory, (so far he’s +0.1!!!), there really won’t be anything to complain about.
Yes, Young has serious deficiencies, and they are maddening. He hits for absolutely NO power. His defense is below average. He grounds into WAY too many double plays. He doesn’t make the pitcher work. And all the talk about his “leadership” qualities can be a downright choking hazard.
He would not be my first choice as an everyday third baseman.
But there’s no denying that, aside from Chase Utley, Michael Young has been the most consistent hitter for average on the Phillies so far in 2013. And he hasn’t been a butcher at third.
He’s been better than anyone could have expected.
We now allow your narrative to be rejoined, already in progress.