Michael Young: Fantasy Noir

Ezra Shaw

Michael Young was traded by the Rangers to the Phillies, and will be their everyday third baseman, marking an end to the Kevin Frandsen era. Fantasy owners will probably only remember his disappointing 2012 season, but a look at Young's underlying numbers shows some value might be available for owners who draft him, and this value will likely be availabe at the end of drafts, even in deep leagues.

Business has been tough this year. Bill collectors kept at bay by lies about upcoming income from a non-existent fedora-feather patent. What do I pay this month? The rent or the heat? Four dirty walls, one window, one light, a phone, and a coffee pot. If I walked down the wrong dark alley tonight, this would be my estate. She walked in at 9:23 AM. I made a mental note of it. Might be important. Black dress; black hat; black veil; sniffing crocodile tears into a black lace hankerchief. One look told me breakfast was tea; splash of skim; thought about the banana nut muffin but settled on Sudoku. Took a cab here, but got out three blocks early and walked the rest of the way. Didn't want to be followed. Smart. And cool. Cool as that sidewalk I'd be sitting on if I didn't get a client. I know the type.

She didn't say a word. She just sat down. I slid a pack of cigarettes across the desk. She took one. They were candy. She was expecting bubble gum. Now I had the upper hand. She was upset. She looked like a middle infielder type. Did she take Theriot in anything but a deep N.L.-only league? Did she fall for the Peralta-promise? We've all been down that road. I know the type. This would be easy. "You must help me. I need a corner infielder." I wasn't expecting that, and she knew it. Now the tables were turned. It'll take everything I have to recover. "I'm desperate. I missed out on corner infielders. I just drafted; no thought for team need. I just drafted. Now I'm at the end and I need a CI. We're in the reserve round, for goodness sake. I can't believe I was so stupid."

"League?"

"Fifteen." She hesitated. "Mixed"

"Michael Young."

She laughed. "He's 36. He's done. Besides, they hate him in Texas."

She hadn't heard. Now I had her. It was my turn to laugh. "Texas is all over. He got a one way ticket to Philadelphia. Here's your cap. Don't let the door hit you on the way out. Now he's a Phillie. He'll play every day. 3B." She didn't say a word. I knew she wanted to ask me how I knew Young was still on the board, but she wouldn't. I know the type. I continued. "Young's 36, but he's not done. His skills are going to decline with age, but look at the underlying numbers. It hasn't started yet." I had her attention. I took a chance that she was a numbers-type, and it paid off. Point, me. "He had a career high contact rate in 2012. He only struck out only 11% of the time."

"But the walks. He wouldn't take a base on balls if you gift-wrapped it"

"He's always been like that. Look at the eye. Look at the walks to K's ratio. He's almost always in the 0.43 to 0.52 area. Last year he split the difference with 0.47. He still hit .277, and I think he can hit that again, maybe even improve slightly in Philly."

"But the power. I need power at the corners. He bats right. Citizen's Bank Park is not a right-handed batter's friend. Lefty? Yeah. But a RHB like Young? I'm not buying it. Even if he stayed in Texas his fly ball percentage is 24%, his home run to fly ball rate is terrible, and his power has fallen off a cliff. What kind of a girl do you take me for?"

Her true colors were coming to the surface. I wasn't buying the helpless act any more. She was a pro. She knew her stuff. Could draft with the best of them. Probably had one-too-many diet cokes, fell in with the wrong drafters, and lost her head. Now she needed a corner infielder. I know the type. "You got me there. The power's gone. If he gets seven home runs, tops. But look at that line up. That contact rate of his will drive in some runs, and his speed, even at 36, is still above league average, so he'll score more than his share of runs. He won't steal anymore than two or three bases, but who cares. Look at the total package. You can snag 70+ runs, 60+ RBI, and a .270+ hitter at the end of the draft. Reserve round. Seven home runs are just icing. One more thing. It won't show up in the stats, but don't underestimate the way Young was jerked around last year. 3B, 1B, SS, DH. Word on the street is players like to know their role. Don't be surprised if that average gets close to .300 and the home runs get to double digits. He's not dyansty material, but for 2013, don't sweat this. Just draft him."

She didn't say a word. She didn't have to. She got what she wanted. She got up, laid a Benji on the desk and walked out of the office. Her steps got fainter as she descended the stairs. I watched her walk out of the building and turn left. I decided to follow. There was more to this than she let on. I know the type. (To be continued)

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