"The fans loved Michael Young for what, 12 years here? And now when Michael Young is having a rough time, they're going to do what unloyal people do -- run in the other direction? What type of fans are they?" - Ron Washington on 7/25/12, challenging Rangers fans to continue supporting Michael Young
This post, for however long it ends up going on, will probably be perceived by quite a few of you as me battering a long-dead horse with a stick. That's fine. I don't care. If you want to punch out on a few more paragraphs of venting on Michael Young, I'm certainly not going to try and stop you. And if you think I'm being unduly harsh towards Young and think that I should spend more time ripping the rest of the offense, well, I don't care about that either. This post is what it is, which is to say that it's a rant.
I passed the breaking point on Young for the first time ever last night. It has hurt for quite a while to watch him flounder helplessly at the plate and corkscrew one grounder after another into the dirt, and perhaps it hurts a little more because, just 16 days ago, Young went throwback on everyone, smashing four hits and making legitimately hard contact and emerging as the hero in a close-and-late affair that went 13 innings deep. It was an offensive show right out of the year 2005, and while you realized that it was just a single game of success and nothing more significant than that, it rekindled hope -- even if it was just a skosh of hope -- that maybe, just maybe, it was indicative of an impending turnaround in his fortunes. That he was going to at least sort of figure it out.
And since that date, he's gone .250/.250/.250 over a span of 40 plate appearances. He's no closer to figuring it out than he was before his one-night transfiguration against Minnesota. He's been the worst everyday player on the team during the months of May, June, and July, but, beyond that, he's been arguably the worst everyday player in baseball this year, and, given his current trajectory, he will go down as having posted the single worst individual season of any full-time player in the 40-plus-year history of this franchise. He has also hit a new offensive floor for the season at .268/.297/.342 (66 wRC+), a line which he has compiled over a span of 397 plate appearances. It is nothing short of remarkable that the Rangers' offense, as a whole, has managed to work around his full-time, middle-order awfulness to the degree that it has this year.
But those larger-scope struggles aren't the catalyst that sent my long-simmering disgust boiling over the edge of the pot. No, what finally sent me over the edge was last night, as Young rolled over four more times and produced four more ground ball outs in an 0-for-4 effort ... but there was still a chance for redemption going into that fourth and final at-bat. The Rangers had the go-ahead run standing on third base with two outs in the eighth inning, and had inserted a pinch-runner at first base after Vicente Padilla had knocked Adrian Beltre out of the game with a wayward fastball to the helmet, and passions had been fully ignited, and the only thing you wanted to see in that moment was Young deliver a hard base hit. You wanted to see Padilla pay for making Beltre suffer. You wanted the Red Sox to suffer. You wanted the Rangers to win this one for Adrian.
And Young proceeds to roll over to shortstop to end the inning. A few minutes later, Texas loses. What a nutshot. What a joke. I was mad about it then, and I'm still mad about it now. It's irrational, but that, for me at least, was the final straw.
I'll continue to hope for something -- ANYTHING -- from Young over the last 2-3 months of the Rangers' season, even if that something amounts to little more than a dead-cat bounce, but I'm not optimistic. Yeah, he may get back on a nice little two-week, average-driven run, but that won't ameliorate the longer-term problem, which is that he isn't drawing walks and isn't hitting for power. And then he'll slump again, and the seasonal numbers will bottom out ... again. It's a terrible situation, one that's exacerbated by the fact that he is impervious to being benched, and, at this point, my greatest fear is that the status quo will remain in place through October, and that his terrible hitting ends up costing the Rangers dearly in the post-season.
And that then he comes back next year, and does the same thing all over again.
This is a disaster. I really don't want to watch Michael Young play baseball for the Rangers anymore.