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Michael Young: the teflon All-Star

Oct 3, 2011, 1:34 PM EDT

Michael Young dugout

Tell me if you’ve heard this one before: A big star is coming off a down year. Management brings in someone to take his place, and the big star freaks out about it. Talks to the media about how unhappy he is. Demands a trade. When the trade doesn’t happen, he makes a point to snub his general manager when camp starts.  That guy is no good, right?  We tend to pile on guys like that, don’t we?

Not if it’s Michael Young we don’t.

Over at FoxSportsSouthwest Jen Floyd Engel has a feature on Young who has apparently been forgiven for his behavior last spring.  And not just forgiven: he’s considered “a consummate professional” and that discord is now a part of his legend as King Intangibles. A man who, according to Engel anyway, should be seriously considered for the AL MVP.  Go for the analysis, stay for the gratuitous swipes at “Moneyballers” who just don’t understand Michael Young because he can’t be placed on a spread sheet.

The shots at the stat-set are amusing at this point. The early-season strife stuff, however, genuinely confuses me.  I can’t recall any player getting such a free pass on it like Young has. And he was getting it even before he put up his nice season, so it’s not like this is solely a case of good play absolving sins.  People were talking about Young as a “consummate professional” back in the first part of the season, mere weeks after he acted in ways that, however understandable, are not what is typically called professional.

Don’t get me wrong: Young is a fine player. He had a nice bounceback season.  It’s good that he turned his lemons into lemonade and didn’t let it affect his play. But I have to ask: when was the last time a guy demanded a trade because he stood to lose playing time to a superior player and was so quickly and easily forgiven for it?

  1. Patrick - Oct 3, 2011 at 1:38 PM

    Don’t forget, this is the second time Young has requested a trade.

    • scatterbrian - Oct 3, 2011 at 2:53 PM

      Exactly! He’s pulled this shit twice and is still Mr. Consummate Professional

  2. wonkypenguin - Oct 3, 2011 at 1:51 PM

    And I’m fairly certain I heard fans chanting “MVP” when he came up in Game 2. I can’t imagine what his treatment would be in some of the special East Coast areas we’re always talking about.

  3. Jacob - Oct 3, 2011 at 1:54 PM

    I think it was at the All-Star game this year that the commentators praised Young for having graciously moved positions twice (or is it three times, now?) to make way for other players. My reaction then was the same as yours now. It’s amazing that someone with such a history of jackassery is consistently praised as a selfless teammate.

  4. daisycutter1 - Oct 3, 2011 at 1:56 PM

    Good, this isn’t just me who noticed this, um, whitewashing of Young’s behavior.

    • mcsnide - Oct 3, 2011 at 1:59 PM

      You aren’t suggesting he’s scrappy, are you?

      • daisycutter1 - Oct 3, 2011 at 2:01 PM

        Gritty, even.

      • cur68 - Oct 3, 2011 at 2:06 PM

        he a natural talent. with rhythm…

      • Old Gator - Oct 3, 2011 at 2:56 PM

        Gritty? Abrasive….

        nyuknyuknyuk….

      • scatterbrian - Oct 3, 2011 at 3:05 PM

        He just looks like a baseball player…

      • paperlions - Oct 3, 2011 at 3:50 PM

        He knows how to win.

  5. aaronmoreno - Oct 3, 2011 at 2:07 PM

    Some people get the Lifetime Pass. Griffey was another one. Frenchy might be one to get it with several teams.

  6. steveohho - Oct 3, 2011 at 2:17 PM

    First in the clubhouse and last to leave….

  7. nyetjones - Oct 3, 2011 at 2:43 PM

    But if nothing sticks to Michael Young, how does Michael Young stick it to the fans?

  8. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Oct 3, 2011 at 3:05 PM

    ” I can’t recall any player getting such a free pass on it like Young has. ”

    See Ortiz, David: grumpy complainer, steroid cheat, all around ‘me-first’ guy, and beloved icon

    • 18thstreet - Oct 3, 2011 at 3:23 PM

      2004.

    • channingtaintum - Oct 3, 2011 at 4:27 PM

      you forgot “infectious smile”

  9. cerowb - Oct 3, 2011 at 3:16 PM

    Granted I don’t follow Texas Rangers baseball very closely, but honestly, I think Michael Young has gotten a raw deal. He has to have been with the organization for what,10 years now? He’s put up great numbers in his time there and yet has been moved almost every season.

    I mean think about it and put yourself in Young’s shoes…he puts up monster numbers as a second baseman and becomes an All-Star…then is told he has to move to short to make room for Alfonso Soriano. He proceeds to put up monster numbers at shortstop the next couple seasons and becomes an All-Star there as well…and then they move him to third to make room for Elvis Andrus. So, Michael Young went to 3rd and put up nice numbers there…and then the Rangers wanted to move him again for Adrian Beltre, and planned to start Mitch Moreland at 1st, leaving Young without a regular position and utilizing him as a “super-sub”

    Given this information, I don’t think it’s entirely out of line for Young to come out and say ‘Hey…find somewhere to play me or I want to go elsewhere’. Heck, given that he moved positions so many times when the organization asked him to, I’d say that would qualify him as a team-player.

    But that could just be me.

    • paperlions - Oct 3, 2011 at 3:54 PM

      If Young wasn’t such a god-awful fielder at every IF position….it would probably be easier to keep him in one spot instead of trying to find something at which he is at least average with the glove.

      He has been paid a crap load of money to play baseball…and that is all the Rangers have ever asked him to do…..so he should probably just STFU and play baseball….you know…like a “consummate professional” would.

      • cerowb - Oct 3, 2011 at 4:09 PM

        I’m only okay with this argument if you don’t complain about your job. Since they pay you to do your job, you shouldn’t complain. If that’s the case, then I’m okay with this argument.

    • High Pockets - Oct 3, 2011 at 3:56 PM

      Young actually offered to move when Soriano came in. And you’re right that’s it not necessarily out of line for Young to want playing time and worry about it when he’s moved around so much. But you know what? I have a hard time picturing him as a leader of my team, someone who will do whatever it takes to make the team better, when he bitches and moans about moving positions while asking to be traded. You can be the leader of the team or you can be traded because you selfishly want to play more when there are better options ahead of you. Not both.

    • Alex K - Oct 3, 2011 at 4:03 PM

      Team players complain to the media for a couple weeks before they take the position change?

    • scatterbrian - Oct 3, 2011 at 4:10 PM

      Given the information, Young should have said “I’ll do whatever makes the team better, even if that means changing positions.”

      • cerowb - Oct 3, 2011 at 4:17 PM

        I’m certainly not going to recommend the guy for Man of the Year…but he HAS changed positions multiple times while performing at an All-Star level for several years now. What I’m saying is I don’t think he’s deserving of all the venom he’s getting here.

    • Kevin S. - Oct 3, 2011 at 6:24 PM

      Of course, Michael Young has only put up “monster numbers” if you ignore how empty his batting average is and how much his home park inflates his numbers.

      • Richard In Big D - Oct 3, 2011 at 7:16 PM

        His home park doesn’t inflate his numbers. He’s a line drive doubles hitter. and being in Arlington really only inflates numbers for homerun hitters.

      • Kevin S. - Oct 3, 2011 at 8:32 PM

        Wrong and wrong. Arlington inflates all offense, especially for RHH. This year, park factors for RHH in Arlington include a 5% boost to 2B, an 18% boost to LD, and a 7% boost to wOBA: http://www.statcorner.com/team.php?team=TEX&year=2011&leag=A_L

        Also, Michael Young’s career H/R splits:

        Home (3145 PA): .329/.377/.495, 93 HR, .377 wOBA, .167 ISO, .361 BABIP, 25.6% LD%
        Away (3245 PA): .287/.331/.415, 65 HR, .326 wOBA, .128 ISO, .321 BABIP, 23.2% LD%

        But yeah, tBaA hasn’t helped Michael Young.

      • Kevin S. - Oct 3, 2011 at 8:33 PM

        Excuse me, those are not just 2011 park factors.

      • nyetjones - Oct 3, 2011 at 8:43 PM

        These are 2011 numbers:

        http://espn.go.com/mlb/stats/parkfactor

        So other than the 3% increase in walks, 13% increase in hits, the 19% increase in doubles, and 133% increase in triples, you’re correct, it only helps him in homeruns. :)

  10. danieldykstra - Oct 3, 2011 at 3:52 PM

    Over the course of the article, Young went from being a player “many consider… not a worthy candidate at all,” to a “dark-horse AL MVP candidate” to a player with “big-boy MVP support.”

    He can not be all three of those, and the article seems to be based on him being the first one. I guess Ms. Engel thought that her simply writing this article counts as big-boy MVP support, or something.

  11. explodet - Oct 3, 2011 at 7:05 PM

    “when was the last time a guy demanded a trade because he stood to lose playing time to a superior player and was so quickly and easily forgiven for it?”

    Michael Young, like, 2 or 3 years ago.

    • explodet - Oct 3, 2011 at 7:09 PM

      http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3826455

  12. Richard In Big D - Oct 3, 2011 at 7:45 PM

    Mike has been treated like a second class citizen by the front office, but is loved and respected in the dugout and the stands. He had a couple of really good defensive years at 2nd and SS, but has never faltered at the plate. He has always been an all-star caliber player wherever he has been assigned, but he has never been more valuable than in his role this year through the regular season. He has kept the infield well rested, filled in for guys on the DL, doing an adequate job with his glove everywhere he’s been. The plus comes at the plate. Most teams, when filling in for an injury or resting player, give something up in the field , at the plate, or , usually, both. With Young, you might lose half a step in the field, but nothing at the dish. If his new role had been explained to him adequately when the deal for Beltre was being made, I am sure he would have been OK with it. The problemhe had was with the communication (or lack thereof) from John Daniels during the process. Most players should just accept what has happened and go on with your day, but, given all that Mike has done for and accomplished with the Rangers, he deserved better treatment than that. It should be noted that, once Nolan intervened and smoothed things over between Daniels and Young, everything was peachy… I attribute the whole mess to youthful inexperience on the part of the GM.

    • Kevin S. - Oct 3, 2011 at 8:58 PM

      Yes, giving a man an $80 million extension two years before he hits FA is totally treating him like a second-class citizen. The Rangers totally should not have tried to bring in better defensive players at his positions in an effort to improve the ballclub. Also, always been an All-Star caliber player? Loosely defining All-Star caliber as being top-three in ones league at ones position, he’s made that standard two or three times (once by default because only Alfonso Soriano and Brett Boone hit at the position in ’03) if we consider offense only, and never if we go by fWAR. Going by B-R’s standard of All Star caliber being a 5+ WAR season, Michael Young has never been an All Star caliber player, by either fWAR or rWAR. He’s a nice player, but the veneration of him absolutely has to stop, because he’s never done anything to justify it.

      • cerowb - Oct 4, 2011 at 9:54 AM

        Guys….I don’t think Kevin likes Michael Young…

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