By Spike Eskin
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Michael Young has been described as a good “clubhouse guy,” and was recently described by Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro as a “professional hitter.”
If there’s any question regarding whether the Young acquisition was a good one for the Phillies, the Dallas Morning News’ Evan Grant wants to erase it.
“Well, you guys had [Jim] Thome there for a while and I consider Jim Thome about as good a professional as there is in Major League Baseball, and Michael [Young] is on that scale. He was this teams version of Derek Jeter,” Grant told 94WIP’s Angelo Cataldi and the Morning Show on Tuesday. “He was the unquestioned leader in the clubhouse. He did it without a whole bunch of rah-rah, he never did it in sight of anybody, but guys sought him out. He wasn’t just the self-proclaimed leader—he never proclaimed himself the leader, but guys approached him, guys followed him, when something needed to be said he would seek somebody out and go to them one on one. He was Ron Washington’s kind of “policeman” in the clubhouse and I think that he got his big contract right at the same time Washington was named the Rangers manager, and I think to some extent this organization grew together with Ron being a very positive influence and an energetic-type manager, and Michael being the guy who allowed him to get his message across.”
One would naturally question why the Rangers would want to trade such a player, and pay a large portion of his salary to do so. “Well, I think the Rangers want to go in a different direction, they want to get a little younger. As a DH last year, Michael’s number last year were a little bit below average. I think this team feels like they are kind of getting out ahead of the curve,” Grant said.”Quite frankly, I think there were some people in management who just wanted to see Michael [Young] go, and that’s unfortunately, but this is the decision that this team is going in and I think the Phillies are getting a guy who is primed for a bounce-back season. He is in a contract year, and this is a guy who I think is very set on getting the 3,000 hits and making a strong Hall of Fame candidacy for himself.”
Young had the worst season of his career offensively in 2012, hitting .227 with an OPS of .682. His WAR, which is an advanced statistic that is gaining acceptance and familiarity, was a career low -2.4. WAR, or Wins Above Replacement, measures the player’s effect on a team compared to what would happen if a replacement level player was in his place. In this case, it means the Rangers would have won 2.4 more games if it was that average, “replacement” level player instead of Young. WAR takes defensive statistics into account as well, and Young’s weren’t good.
“The problem with WAR and with any of the absolute statistical analyses, is that they don’t paint the complete picture of a player as a player slash person,” Grant said. “You can’t measure leadership, you can’t measure team involvement, and because you can’t put a number on it the statistical analysis based community, doesn’t value it. Well, that’s just malarkey.”
“Third base is not a very natural position for him, he’s not going to be Mike Schmidt over there,” Grant said. “His range at third is a little bit below average, but there is not a perfect baseball player out there. He’s got a very good arm, he’s going to do everything right in terms of running the bases, he’s a .300 career hitter, he’s a great presence in the club house. The place where he comes up a little bit short is in terms of side-to-side range at third base.”