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Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Product of Arlington: Michael Young

Michael Young was drafted in 1997 by the Toronto Blue Jays. In 2000, he was traded to the Texas Rangers along with some pitcher for Esteban Loaiza. After appearing in 2 games in 2000, Young has been a regular for the Rangers for the past 11 seasons, moving from 2B to SS to 3B to DH/UTL player over that span (mainly because his defense has been sub-par, but that is for another discussion). Young is a fan favorite in Texas and it is easy to see why as he is ranked #1 in franchise history in games played (1667), hits (2061), doubles (388), triples (52), runs (1006) AB (6788) and PA (7396). He’s also #1 in strikeouts (1082) but that has more to do with longevity than anything else.

Michael Young has put up a career line of .304/.350/.451/.801, .348 wOBA, 107 wRC+. An .801 OPS is quite impressive but that only yields a 107 wRC+…only 7% better than average? Yes, that makes perfect sense, since Young plays in one of the most hitter-friendly ballparks in baseball and looking further at his stats, he has shown the most ridiculous home/away splits I have ever seen (well, outside of Coors Field that is). To be fair, I think most players play better at home than on the road anyways (comfort, crowd cheering, knowledge of how balls are played there, etc.).

Stats are taken from FanGraphs except for 2001 which are taken from Baseball-reference since FanGraphs does not have home/away splits prior to 2002. This is also why I only included his career only from 2002-2011 to show his wOBA and wRC+ home/away split over a long period of time.

From 2002-2011, he has a 127 wRC+ at home and a 92 wRC+ away. He is 27% better than average at home and 8% below average on the road – his production is 35% different at home than on the road. (In 2001, he was clearly better at home than on the road and using Baseball-reference stat of OPS+, their equivalent of wRC+, Young was 104 OPS+ at home and 63 OPS+ on the road. Therefore I do not think these numbers are off that much if his 2001 season were included). 2011 was only the 3rd time in his career that he was above average on the road. 2005 is the only time that his road splits were close to his home splits, and not surprising he won the AL batting title that year.

Michael Young is being paid $16 million for the next 2 years and before the 2011 season Texas was shopping him since they had no room to play him with Mitch Moreland at 1B, Ian Kinsler at 2B, Elvis Andrus at SS and the recently signed Adrian Beltre at 3B. An injury to Beltre, an underperforming Moreland and an opening at DH allowed Young to play fulltime in 2011. It is a good thing, because he probably will not be worth the $16 million to anyone other than the Rangers.

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