Player Profile: Michael Young
Michael Young has been one of the most consistent hitters in baseball the past decade. From 2003-12 Young was second in baseball with 1,984 hits, his total of 371 doubles was fourth and his total of 951 runs scored was 7th. Over the last decade an average Young season in the fantasy game has led to a line of .308-16-87-95-8 with those 198 hits a season. Always willing to do what is best for the team, Young has seasons of least 130 games played at second base/third base/shortstop in his career, and he's also had a season of more than 40 games at first (that 40 games season at first was in 2012 so he will qualify at both corner infield spots in 2013 but not second base where he appeared in just 16 games). Despite all of that amazing work, Young saw his totals last season regress to his worst overall levels since 2002 (he hit .277 with eight homers, 67 RBIs, 79 runs scored and two steals). Is the 37 year old at the end of the line in terms of being an upper echelon fantasy performer?
I noted it above, but one of the biggest dings to the value of Young moving forward is that he will not qualify at second base at the start of the 2013 season. His bat would still play at second base, but as a corner infield option? The only way that will work is if we are talking about an AL-only setup. As for that bat...
Young has never been a power hitter but last seasons total of eight homers was the first time he failed to hit at least 11 homers since 2007 and it was also his lowest mark since becoming a big leaguer. Some of the blame for that resides in the fact that Young hit more ground balls than ever before last season with 53.2 percent of his batted balls hitting the turf (the first time in his illustrious career that his GB-rate was over 50 percent). Young also registered a 6.1 HR/F mark, a career worst. Fifteen homers is the top end of what you should expect from Young moving forward, and even that is being rosie. A slight uptick in this category is possible, but it really doesn't matter cause you shouldn't be drafting Young for the long ball. I should also note that Young failed to reach 30 doubles for the first time since 2002. Moreover, he failed to reach 35 doubles for the first time since 2004. It wasn't just the home run power that disappointed.
Young drove in 67 runs, his lowest total since 2002. Given that he hit in a powerful Rangers lineup, and spent 123 games last season in the five or six hole in the lineup, there really isn't a good reason to explain the lack of ribbies. After back-to-back seasons of 91 and 106 RBIs the major fall of last season was a drag on his value. He figures to find it hard to move back up the RBI column if he's not at the top of the batting order and if the extra base power doesn't come back.
But the real issue here with Young isn't a slight dip in homers, or a regression in RBIs, the real concern is that batting average dip. Young hit .277 last season, his lowest mark in a decade (he had hit at least .284 each year from 2003-11). However, it shouldn't really be that shocking that his average regressed. I say that because Young hit .338 in 2011, the best mark of his career. Average out the last two seasons and you end up with a .308 average which is seven points better than his career .301 mark. Sample size and all you know. Delving further, we see a 5.1 percent walk rate, his lowest since 2003. He somewhat negated the lack of walks by making better contact than he had ever before. Young had a K-rate of 10.8 percent, a career low, which led to a 0.47 BB/K rate, slightly better than his career 0.46 mark. I would also say that it's a bit strange to see a guys batting average dip when he posts a 22.9 percent line drive rate, but it's actually below his 24.2 percent career mark even though it's still the second best mark he's posted of the last five years.
Young profiles as a solid single league option in 2013. He's power has never been significant enough to warrant much love, and his lack of qualification at second base also hinders his outlook. It's fair to think that his batting average could come back up a bit in 2013, but he's also 37 years old so there is no guarantee he will return to the ranks of .300 hitters. Don't draft Young based on name recognition or in the hopes that he will repeat his terrific 2011 effort (.338-11-106-88). If you do you will end up disappointed.
By Ray Flowers
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The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: Mon-Fri 7-10 PM EDT), Ray also hosts his own show Sunday night (7-10 PM EDT). Ray has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. Specializing in baseball, football and hockey, some consider him an expert in all three.
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