Today's card is number 59 in the 2006 Bowman set, Michael Young. I must say that Michael looks confused in this picture. Is he trying to figure out the third base coach's signals or Rangers fans? I can't help him with the former and I am just as confused over the latter.
Young was already in place in the Texas infield when I returned to baseball a few years ago. I didn't know much about him. He seemed quiet and professional. I thought that was a good thing. Manny Ramirez has never been my type of player. I appreciated his leadership on the team. It seemed to be a good deal to get him locked into a long-term contract.
Apparently a vocal segment of Rangers fandom disagrees with me. There seems to be quite a few folks yammering for Michael's head, or at least a trade where he leaves. Apparently he is not good enough to trod the diamond at The Ballpark in Arlington. I wondered if they had any justification for such claims. To such an end I compared Young to Derek Jeter. Here is what I found.
One claim often shouted from the rooftops is that Michael just doesn't stack up offensively and is getting worse. Well, his batting average so far this year is down, just .276 at age 31. Last year, at 30 years old he hit .315 which was one point higher than the year before (.314 at 29). In 2005, at 28, he managed .331. Let's look at similar years for Jeter. At 28 he hit .297 (34 points less than Young). At 29 he posted .324 (10 points higher). At 30 he was down to .292 (23 points lower). At 31 he was at .309 (33 points higher). Pretty clearly, up to this year, Michael had held his own with the Yanks captain at the same age.
Of course, true numbers folks always point to the on base percentage rather than batting average. Let's look at the numbers there as well. At 28 years Young was at .385 and Jeter at .373. At 29 years, Young .356, Jeter .393. At 30 years, Young .366, Jeter .352. At 31 years, Young .331, Jeter .389. In four years Young gets the nod twice and Jeter twice. Young is down considerably this year but actually was up last year over 2006.
Supposedly Michael doesn't hit enough homers either. Just a quick rundown and we'll leave offense alone. At 28, Young 24, Jeter 18. At 29, Young 14, Jeter 10. At 30, Young 9, Jeter 23. At 31, Young 12 (so far), Jeter 19. Jeter appears to pass Young in power during these years.
Ok, defense. Let's start with fielding percentage. At 28 years, Young .974, Jeter .977 (Young's first year at short). At 29, Young .981, Jeter .969. At 30, Young .972, Jeter .981. At 31, Young .983, Jeter .979. Again, a 2-2 split. Michael seems to be about the same in fielding percentage as Jeter.
Range is next. At 28, Young 4.29, Jeter 3.76. At 29, Young 4.74, Jeter 3.65. At 30, Young 4.38, Jeter 4.32. At 31, Young 4.42, Jeter 4.56. Clearly, Young is not losing range and is a comparable player to Jeter at the same age.
For grins let's look at double plays turned. At 28, Young 95, Jeter 69. At 29, Young 113, Jeter 51. At 30, Young 107, Jeter 96. At 31, Young 110 (so far), Jeter 96. Mike knows how to turn the double play. Hands down better than Jeter at the same age.
Ok, to sum up. Compared to Derek Jeter at the same age, Michael Young is trading years in the batting average lead. His on base percentage is doing the same. His power, as indicated by home runs, is down but he is still producing and is actually going back up after a low year last year. Also helps to remember that shortstops are generally not power hitters. His fielding percentage is trading leads with Jeter's. His range is up for him and ahead of Jeter for all but one year. He turns double plays more frequently than Jeter.
Needless to say, I am still confused. Perhaps there were shouts to get rid of Jeter but I don't remember them. Such proposals with Young now make no more sense to me than they would have with Jeter then.