Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers first baseman Michael Young (10) hits a double during the 13th inning of the game against the Minnesota Twins at Rangers Ballpark. The Rangers beat the Twins 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE
I'll admit it right out of the gate: I cut Michael Young, who I kept for $8 in a 14-team mixed auction league, in this last run of FAAB transactions. I'll also promise you, right now, that this entire entry isn't about my fantasy team, but bear with me.
I've been dealing with injuries all year long, to both starting and backup players, and with all but one of them returning as of Friday, it was time to start chopping into my bench depth so as to add more starting pitching to my roster. Young has been a very useful player, and a highly-productive one when he's right. He was inexpensive enough to keep, given his positional flexibility, especially since we only use 23-team rosters with one DL spot. But he's hitting .273/.304/.353, and had lost his job on my roster to Pedro Alvarez, a player who, because of his 2011 season and unstable job status to start 2012, was available on waivers, the place Young now resides.
Not everyone is in the same scenario as me, and that's kind of the point of the question asked in the headline: is it time, outside of my personal bubble, to give up on Michael Young?
In 2011, he led the AL in hits, and slugged .474. But he also hit .338, which was in no small part due to a .367 batting average on balls in play, as well as a .353/.384/.547 line in hitter-friendly Texas. There shouldn't have been any belief that he would repeat those numbers in 2012, and in the interest of full disclosure, I didn't keep him because I believed he would -- he was cheap, and available at multiple positions, saving me the need for an extra infielder on the bench.
Young hasn't hit at home in 2012, and it's destroying his line. He also hasn't seen the ball fly off of his bat and into available holes, as it did last year, and it shows in his .301 BABIP. The BABIP is the primary culprit when looking at the difference between his 2011 and 2012, but, given his career BABIP is much lower than last year's figure, and he's getting older -- Young is now a 35-year-old infielder -- it's not a shock to see him slipping.
Rewind back to 2009 for a moment. That's the last time Young hit very well on the road, back when he was 32 years old. Since, he's hit a collective .292/.335/.391 in road games,and while that's not terrible, it's not exactly winning you leagues when he's no longer filling in at shortstop or second base. Young slots in at third and first, and that means he needs real, powerful offense to justify playing in your fantasy lineup.
The age thing is the main reason why it's easy to give up on him, whether for your team that means benching him, or cutting him -- it all depends on what kind of roster space you have, and what your alternatives are. His start to the year, in which he hit .414/.433/.532 through the first two weeks and 60 plate appearances of the year, teased owners in a way that was unfair. But you could see even then he wasn't producing much in terms of power, and while it was easy to forgive after 60 PA, after 360, it isn't so simple. He's hit just .245/.279/.314 since his OPS peaked on April 21, and while that might not be who he is, neither are the first two weeks.
There's reason to think Young can turn things around enough to justify keeping him on your roster, if you've got the bench space. But if you're in need of a transaction, and there's no one else to cut, you might want to start thinking about Young, who hasn't looked the part of his surname at the plate over the last few months. It's not the popular move -- he's still owned in 95 percent of leagues -- but it might be time.
Then again, with how popular he still is, maybe a trade is in order to someone who still believes. They certainly exist, and you'd get something in return for your own interruption of faith. In my own situation, cutting him was the way to go, based on the constrictions of our league's format. But maybe you'll have better luck in your own situation.