Young, like Jeter, can bounce back offensively
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Michael Young was among the worst everyday players in baseball last season. He hit .277 with a woeful .312 on-base percentage and .370 slugging percentage. His .682 OPS was 125th among 143 qualifying major-leaguers. He cost the Rangers more than four runs on defense for the eighth time in nine years, per Fangraphs
And still, this was a good trade for the Phillies.
Young may be finished, or he may not be finished. As Dave Cameron pointed out Friday at ESPN
, there is a recent history of players appearing to fall apart in their mid-30s only to bounce back the next season. Included in his examples are Carlos Lee, Ken Griffey Jr., Ray Durham and Todd Helton.
Here’s another: Derek Jeter.
Jeter had his worst season as a professional in 2010, batting .270/.340/.370. His slugging percentage that year was identical to Young’s last season. Jeter’s batting average was seven points lower than Young's. At age 36, most wrote Jeter off.
Then what happened? Jeter responded the next two seasons by hitting .308 with an OPS 60 points higher than it was in 2010.
Young, who is now 36, has always been a similar hitter to Jeter. The one glaring difference between the two is the amount of walks Jeter draws, but take a look at this comparison of their 162-game averages:
| Jeter||.313||.448||33||16||109|So if Jeter rebounded, why can’t Young? The advanced stats community always stresses that one-year samples can’t be indicative of a player’s true talent level or future, but a giant portion of that same community is dismissing Young as a player who’s done based on his 2012.
Does it really make sense to put more stock into Young’s poor 2012 than the dozen seasons before it? Young hit .311 with a .819 OPS from 2003-11. Few are expecting him to perform like that with the Phillies, but something like his 2010 is realistic. In that season Young hit .284/.330/.444.
We can discuss defense another day, and it is acknowledged here that Young's hot corner D is not on the same level of Placido Polanco's or Pedro Feliz's. But the 2010 version of Young -- which could realistically return -- would be a significant offensive upgrade over what the Phillies have gotten from their third basemen the last six seasons. Since 2007, Phillies third basemen have hit .263 with a .323 OBP and .370 slugging percentage. Those numbers are pretty much the same as Young’s bottomed-out 2012 season.
So the best-case scenario is that Young, like many others before him, is rejuvenated in his mid-30s after a down season and is for the Phillies some semblance of the player he was in his nine full seasons.
The worst-case scenario is that he gives them the same hot corner offense they’ve gotten since 2007.
E-mail Corey Seidman at email@example.com