Michael Young a Good Bet for Philadelphia

The Phillies have a hole at third base, and Michael Young is a man without a position in Texas. These two problems look to be coalescing into a trade between the Rangers and Phillies, where Texas would ship Young to Philadelphia in order to give him the chance to have a regular gig again, and they’d receive a little bit of salary relief in the process. The Rangers would still be on the hook for $10 million of the $16 million he’s due in 2013, a natural response to the fact that Young was Major League Baseball’s worst regular player in 2012, but they’d free up a roster spot, save a bit of money, and give one of the franchise’s most popular players a chance to keep his career going in a new city. From that perspective, the deal makes a world of sense for Texas.

But, despite Young’s dismal 2012 season, I like this deal for the Phillies as well. As I noted on ESPN Insider yesterday, there’s a decent list of recent performers who have apparently fallen apart in their mid-30s, only to rebound the next season and regain most of their pre-faceplant production. While Young was genuinely terrible last year, we also need to keep in mind that single year performance isn’t the best indicator of future performance, and any decent projection should be informed by his success prior to 2012 as well as his failure last year.

Even if we just take the most basic projection possible and do a 5/3/2 weighting system on his last three season WARs, we’d still come out with a projection of around +1 WAR for 2013. Interestingly, of the 19 players I identified in that ESPN piece who had negative WAR seasons between 34 and 36 and then played another season, their average WAR in the follow-up year was +1 WAR, and a good chunk of the guys in the sample were above average players in their rebound season. There’s reasons to think Young could be one of those bounce back players as well.

Young is a high contact line drive hitter who rarely hits infield fly balls, which is the main reason he’s posted a career .334 BABIP despite not being the fastest guy around. Last year, his BABIP fell to .299, the lowest he’s posted since his rookie season back in 2001. If you prefer, here’s the graphical form.

He’s already had two recent declines that weren’t predictive, as his drops in both 2008 and 2010 were followed by seasons where he put up a BABIP over .350. The Phillies shouldn’t be betting on that for 2013, but there’s real reason to think that his average will get a bump from basic regression to the mean next year.

Even if he’s not hitting for a lot of power, Young’s high contact/gap power skills make him not that dissimilar from Jeff Keppinger, who was also in the mix to play third base for the Phillies before he signed a three year, $12 million contract with the White Sox. Both are roughly average hitters with poor defensive skills at multiple positions in their mid-30s. Both have enough value to be a nice stopgap third baseman on a contender, especially at a marginal price. Young’s $6 million pricetag next season is a little higher than Keppinger’s $4 million, but it’s only a one year commitment, so the overall deals aren’t that far apart in value.

I’m sure there’s going to be a subset of folks who mock the Phillies acquisition of Young if he accepts the trade, based on the fact that Young was truly awful for the Rangers last year. However, at $6 million for one year, Young is a decent fill-in for a team in win now mode, and there is historical precedent for these kinds of players rebounding to prior form. Young might not be what he used to be anymore, but we shouldn’t just assume he’s done because he had one lousy season. For the Phillies, this is not a bad risk to take, and assuming it goes through, looks like a win-win for both sides.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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Pinstripe Wizard
Member
Pinstripe Wizard
3 years 7 months ago

Consider me a guy that thinks Michael Young could have a bounce back season. I don’t think he has deserved as much praise throughout his career as he has gotten, but I think this is a win for both sides. The Rangers need to get Young off the team for PR and Mike Olt reasons. The Phillies need a 3B. Maybe Young will get some bounce back effect from playing in the field at one position more than as a DH/utility guy. Just a thought.

mikec
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mikec
3 years 7 months ago

I could not disagree more with Dave on this one. M Young will butcher 3B abominably, and will have no DH fallback. Sheet, Dave doesn’t even get into the defensive side of this. He won’t have the big benefit of his Texas home park. As for BABIP, it was low and it should stay low. Why? Because he’s a very predictable hitter between LCF and RF line, with very diminishing gap power. So it’s easier to defend him, by shading all 3 OF’s to the right and pinching in. M Young is toast and a horrible fit for an NL team, especially at that cost. What he is now is a mediocre-at-best shortside platoon DH. Dave, let’s please make a wager!

JF
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JF
3 years 7 months ago

I’m one of the biggest MY haters there is, but you’re so full of shit it’s unbelievable. The arrogance in your post is baffling, to say the least. Why are you on here commenting and not managing a Major League Baseball team?

nilbog44
Member
nilbog44
3 years 7 months ago

Wow that was a pretty obnoxious post. Plus you said “at that cost.” You realize they are only paying 6 million right?

Nik
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Nik
3 years 7 months ago

Young also OPS’d over .800 in September after being putrid almost the entire year. Could he have been dealing with an injury? Either way, as a Phillies fan, I’m starting to come around on the idea of getting a bit Younger.

Phrozen
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Phrozen
3 years 7 months ago

The Phillies have Kevin Frandsen at 3B, who last year managed 1.6 WAR in 55 games for $850K. What, exactly, can Michael Young do that Frandsen cannot? And is it worth seven times the price? (Eight times, arguably, given that they’re already going to pay Frandsen)

And Young is an atrocious fielder at third. Sure, he can hold down the position, but he hasn’t posted a positive UZR there since 8 innings in 2003. I’d much rather have the average defender with the average bat for $850K.

And who are the Phillies supposed to be giving up for Young, anyway?

James
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James
3 years 7 months ago

Umm, you’re forgetting about what a great clubhouse presence M. Young is!!!

Phrozen
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Phrozen
3 years 7 months ago

Oh, right. Of course.

Sean
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Sean
3 years 7 months ago

If you’re counting on Frandsen to play in 2013 like he did in 2012, you’re going to be pretty bummed out.

Phrozen
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Phrozen
3 years 7 months ago

I’m not counting on that at all–didn’t mean to give the impression I was. I’m counting on him to be at least average, which I think is no great stretch at all. Surely a 100 wRC+ and 0 UZR isn’t too much to expect? Maybe one or two WAR.

Eric R
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Eric R
3 years 7 months ago

Wait– are you suggesting that guys who had about 600 PA below replacement level [-0.4] spanning five years through age 28 and then miss a full year and then put up a greater than average 210 PA are likely to regress back a bit…?

:)

schmenkman
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schmenkman
3 years 7 months ago

Agree with Phrozen. That’s what I expect too. And while I expect Young to rebound in 2013, that’s about what I also expect from him.

Is there some value to having both Frandsen and Young? Sure. But I don’t know that it’s worth $6 M plus prospects.

cthabeerman
Member
cthabeerman
3 years 7 months ago

Not sure why you’d expect a 100 wRC+ from Frandsen. You’re much more likely to see a wRC+ between 75-90 or thereabouts, much closer to his overall past performance. Being average at the plate is pretty optimistic, given his past and his age.

I liken this to last season when everyone thought Mayberry could easily handle the starting job and perform quite well. That 133 wRC+ was looking really good, but he never had that level of performance in the minor leagues. He simply wasn’t able to sustain that performance. Now, he could come back and sustain that performance eventually, but just expecting it to happen was a bit foolhardy.

I would temper expectations on Frandsen and be pleasantly surprised if he’s average offensively.

-C

Phrozen
Guest
Phrozen
3 years 7 months ago

C: Frandsen put together a 127 wRC+ last year in the Majors, and a 112 at AAA in 2011. I’m not expecting anything more than 100 from him in ’13, and with average defense. He’s not gonna win awards. He’s not gonna make people forget Mike Schmidt. He’s just gonna hold down 3B adequately, for less than a million bucks, until a better option comes along.

I don’t think that’s out of line; nor is it remotely like expecting Mayberry to repeat his 2011 performance.

cthabeerman
Member
cthabeerman
3 years 7 months ago

Phrozen: And he put up a 103 wRC+ in 2012 at AAA, which is the largest of all those samples, at a lower level.

Despite his ML totals last season, he still carries an 83 wRC+. If you think the last 200 PAs are more important than the previous 600 at the major league level, that’s fine. But you’re betting on the longshot rather than the favorite.

-C

JayT
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JayT
3 years 7 months ago

I think the biggest issue with Frandsen is that his biggest upside is that he has a 100 wRC+ and 0 UZR. His downside is that he’s completely terrible, and the Phillies are back to square one.
Young’s upside is basically 2009/2011, which is a pretty darn nice player to have for $6 million. His downside is to have pretty much the same wRC+ as Frandsen’s had for his career.

I’m not a huge Michael Young, but for $6 million I think he’s a really good gamble.

Don Draper
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Don Draper
3 years 7 months ago

How in the hell can Kevin Frandsen be considered an ‘average bat’?

Cidron
Member
Cidron
3 years 7 months ago

umm, he can be flipped at the trade deadline for some more prospects, if he can get on a roll early in the year. Fransden cannot, but his presence allows such a trade. No, not quite the market for 3b as say, RP generally. But, I can see a Philly/NYY trade in June-July involving Young going to NYY if Arod is not rehabbing well.

Alby
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Alby
3 years 7 months ago

What Young can do that Frandsen can’t is hit the ball out of the park occasionally.

Jesse
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Jesse
3 years 7 months ago
Nik
Guest
Nik
3 years 7 months ago

Young could also be motivated by the FA contract offers out there and could try to make one more run at a contract. He could also be motivated by going into F U mode to show he’s not finished to his previous team.

dirtbag
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dirtbag
3 years 7 months ago

And if he were the true professional, clubhouse presence, gritty, gutty, grinder that everyone has made him out to be his entire career, he would have already been motivated just by stepping on the field.

Personally, I hope Philly is somehow making your bet so that the Rangers can unload him.

Eric
Guest
Eric
3 years 7 months ago

I will be both glad that Young isn’t taking at bats away from someone else in the lineup and also sad to see him depart should he choose to accept this trade. Though he’s never been as good as many in the fan base have perceived him to be, he was a bright spot during some very bad years in Arlington. I wish he could have gotten that ring here.

My wife, on the other hand, is just sad to see him go. He’s Michael Young and he’s Mr. Ranger.

Visitor
Guest
Visitor
3 years 7 months ago

At first, I read that as “his wife” and immediately thought, “Does that mean his actual wife or Ron Washington?”

dirtbag
Guest
dirtbag
3 years 7 months ago

Both Young’s walk rate and ISO have declined four years in a row. Does that really sound like a candidate for a bounce-back season?

He’s also a freaking statue in the field.

chuckb
Guest
chuckb
3 years 7 months ago

But his babip fell quite a bit below his career average despite maintaining a high line drive rate and an increasing ground ball rate. His iffb rate was still low as well. Though he is atrocious defensively it’s not unreasonable to believe he’ll perform better at the plate next season. And considering what’s available this offseason, Young may be a viable option.

Cidron
Member
Cidron
3 years 7 months ago

Being a statue there isnt a big deal when you got Andrus eating up ground left and right immediately beside him at 3B. OR, Philly could move him to 1b and move Howard to 3b. Almost worked for Detroit, right? Big guy at 3b.

Heather
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Heather
3 years 7 months ago

Andrus is the PTBNL in this deal?

spu
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spu
3 years 7 months ago

I hope this is a joke. Howard is left-handed…let’s just put him behind the plate with Ruiz gone. He’s big! He can block Papelbon’s splitter!

chuckb
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chuckb
3 years 7 months ago

someone’s sarcasm detector’s on the fritz.

Grand Admiral Braun
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Grand Admiral Braun
3 years 7 months ago

A pro-Michael Young article on FanGraphs?? Diplomatic immunity has just been revoked!

jim
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jim
3 years 7 months ago

your name is a fantastic blend of star wars and baseball and i love you

justaguywholikesbaseball
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justaguywholikesbaseball
3 years 7 months ago

this sounds to me like texas was orchestrating an elaborate scheme to acquire Revere, who’s name if only mentioned casually by Jon Daniels in the presence of Terry Ryan would cause Ryan to abruptly finish whatever he was eating/drinking and scurry away. The master plan of the Revere/Martin/Murphy outfield is now all but complete…

t ball
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t ball
3 years 7 months ago

Why would TX want Revere? They already have Gentry, Martin, and Borbon, no reason to deal for someone of Revere’s ilk.

Fact
Guest
3 years 7 months ago

#6org

Neil
Guest
Neil
3 years 7 months ago

It’s hard not to like this for the Phillies. Young is likely better than the status quo in 2013, so unless they can get someone who is better for a similar price, the risk is pretty low. They also won’t have the problem of cutting The Face of the Franchise loose like Texas did, so they can cut their losses and junk him in June if he’s not hitting.

Come on, it’s not like they’ll have to pay him Brandon League money.

TKDC
Member
Member
TKDC
3 years 7 months ago

While I love to mock the Phillies, this is $6 million dollars. There are two possibilities: (1) Young was/is really in steep decline and he’ll be useless. The Phillies don’t have the Rangers problems in terms of how they can/will treat Young. (2) Young had a random or injury-caused bad year and he is a servicable third baseman in 2013 (a 2-3 WAR player). If you average out those chances, along with the risk of injury, I think you get a player worth about $6 million dollars.

Pinstripe Wizard
Member
Pinstripe Wizard
3 years 7 months ago

Well isn’t a win worth about $5M? If he’s a 2-3 win player, that would make him quite a pickup for them at the cost.

TKDC
Member
Member
TKDC
3 years 7 months ago

Yes, but he could also be worth nothing, which would make it a waste of money. I was just saying the risk that he sucks is balanced out by the reward if last year was just a blip. I guess he could fall in the middle, but I think it is more likely that he is useless (~0 WAR) or a servicable player (2-3 WAR) than him actually being a 1 WAR player.

cthabeerman
Member
cthabeerman
3 years 7 months ago

I’m kind of with TKDC on this, but that’s because I expect he’ll either be average or a little better than that and get playing time, or not do well and not get very much playing time.

The playing time itself will account for most of the value in the 2-3 WAR figure.

-C

Blockhead
Member
Blockhead
3 years 7 months ago

His decline in BABIP coincided with a painfully obvious decline in bat speed. I wouldn’t expect a bounce back.

Ryan
Guest
Ryan
3 years 7 months ago

Overall it’s not that great for Philly. We need a long term solution at 3rd. We haven’t had a great 3rd baseman since Rolen. Polanco had his best years away from Philly. Trading another prospect from our already thin farm system for a one-year rental isn’t the best course of action. It isn’t super terrible because Young does bring some valuable intangibles and versatility. Don’t forget people that Young can play SS and 2B, two spots currently filled by 30+ yr old players with injury issues. If Rollins or Utley go down, it’ll be nice to have a guy like Young who can fill in. Preferably I would like to have seen a Reynolds signing. I think Charlie can help with his strikeouts a little.

agam22
Guest
agam22
3 years 7 months ago

Are you implying that Mark Reynolds is a long term solution at third? And also Reynolds can play third, and young can play third, second and short in the sense that they are physically capable of standing in those positions on the field with a glove on one hand. If you’re definition of playing a position includes a requirement that one can make just 3/4 of the plays of an average major league fielder at those positions, than no, Reynolds and Young can not play those positions

spu
Guest
spu
3 years 7 months ago

Defense is overrated. Make most of the routine plays and mash at the plate and you’ll be out there.

Ryan
Guest
Ryan
3 years 7 months ago

No Mark Reynolds is not a long term solution. But at 28 he is still young enough to grow a little. Add him with a great hitting coach like Manuel then maybe he can improve. Oh and Reynolds just signed with Cleveland for 1 year, $6 million. Look at that, the same number as we are paying for Young! And we wouldn’t have lost two prospects to get him. Again, the Young deal wasn’t bad. I’m just spoiled by Amaro pulling out some amazing trades and deals. And there is a possibility that Reynolds didn’t want to come to Philly. I just would have loved to have seen more power to our lineup. Hopefully Ruf and balance our lineup now by winning the job in the corner. GO PHILLY!

Kevin
Guest
Kevin
3 years 7 months ago

We do not need a long term solution at third. In 1 or 2 years, the Phillies will be bringing up Cody Asche to take that spot and Michael Young serves as a perfect fit in that time. Overall it’s a decent pick for Philly. No starter on the Opening day lineup except for Ben Revere could hit for MY’s 2012 avg.these days.

Rogers Hornsby
Guest
Rogers Hornsby
3 years 7 months ago

“the deal makes a world of sense for Texas”

Yes it does, but not for the reasons mentioned. It makes sense because Texas management chooses not to control manager Ron Washington, thus giving him the freedom to give MY 600 ABs, which he is dumb enough to do and will do as long as he and Young are together. I cannot fathom why the solution is not to fire Washington and let the new manager platoon Young with him ending up around 300-350 ABs and being productive for the Rangers, but that will not happen. No, this trade is for one reason, the Rangers feel they can put another playoff team together to make a deep run, but not with the manager giving Young 600 ABs. Texas is protecting the team fro Washington by dumping Young.

LK
Guest
LK
3 years 7 months ago

But he my team!

KM
Guest
KM
3 years 7 months ago

Even if he can’t be an everyday guy anymore, the Philly infield needs a lot of plan B’s. They can afford $6m as a one year gamble for a guy who at worst can play 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in a pinch, especially since they didn’t break the bank in center field.

Spit Ball
Member
Spit Ball
3 years 7 months ago

No mention of his home/road splits? His OPS is over 100 points lower on the road then at home over his career. I know he’s going to a decent hitters park but those splits don’t lie. He’s been bad away from Arlington. I can’t imagine his defense will be great as he has been a -10 UZR guy for his career everywhere including 3rd. The only way this deal makes sense is if the Phillies plan on bringing in Hamilton and want Young to be their for support. I think if Utley, Rollins and Galvis are healthy Young really does not get on the field. At least Galvis can catch it and throw it. Well it’s just 6 million dollars, who knows I guess.

NEPP
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NEPP
3 years 7 months ago

Most players hit better at home than on the road and its not as if CBP is a pitcher’s haven anyway.

Dave S
Guest
Dave S
3 years 7 months ago

I’m just pissed that we need to even bother to take a chance on a ancient guy like Young… as a regular 3B. You could justify him as a super sub.

This is piss poor planning.

I have nothing against Michael Young, and I AM glad that there will be some right handed bats in the lineup. But overall… not thrilled.

Robbie G.
Guest
Robbie G.
3 years 7 months ago

Unless Ruben Amaro Jr. has a big splash move up his sleeve–signing Josh Hamilton, for instance–I am just not seeing how the Phillies are going to be very competitive for a playoff spot in 2013. They seem pretty far behind Washington and Atlanta at this point, which leaves them gunning for the second wild card spot. And the Giants and Dodgers both figure to be pretty good in 2013.

Dave S
Guest
Dave S
3 years 7 months ago

I agree about Washington. Just not seeing that Atlanta is much better. In fact, I could see Atlanta tanking in the way the Phils did last year.

NEPP
Guest
NEPP
3 years 7 months ago

They replaced Michael Bourn & Chipper Jones with BJ Upton. That’s not an improvement really.

They improved their bullpen but at the cost of weakening the backend of their rotation.

The Nats are the team to beat in the East but the Braves didnt improve really…at least not through FA or trades.

Antonio bananas
Guest
Antonio bananas
3 years 7 months ago

Not yet. Atlanta freed up money by “weakening” the back half of their rotation (as if losing essentially your 6th and 7th best pitchers is that significant). Atlanta will find another bat for either left for third.

Mitch
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Mitch
3 years 7 months ago

I think you’re underselling how atrocious young is at the keystone.

hk
Guest
hk
3 years 7 months ago

Fortunately for the Phillies, Chase Utley plays at the keystone base. Or, are you saying he’s atrocious playing in the Keystone State of Pennsylvania?

a
Guest
a
3 years 7 months ago

I think you’re underselling how atrocious Utley’s knees are at the keystone…of his legs.

Shut up, I’m already showing myself out.

Jesse
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Jesse
3 years 7 months ago

Question though, what is the success rate on players bouncing back from -1+ war seasons?

Keystone Heavy
Guest
Keystone Heavy
3 years 7 months ago

Love how Dave declines to mention that he will likely be the worst defensive 3B in baseball next year (amoung starters at least).

I don’t see a big bounce back from Young next year. We know that as they age, hitters BB% and ISO decline, and their GB% increases. Well, Young had his 2nd lowest BB%, lowest ISO, and highest GB% of his career last year. ANd now that he won’t be playing in RBIa 82 games a year, shouldn’t we expect at LEAST the ISO to keep declining?

If you think that an 85 wRC+ and -15 to -20 UZR is worth what this is costing Philly, then I guess this is a good trade.

JF
Guest
JF
3 years 7 months ago

Everything you say is still just speculation. The problem I see with just about every comment on here is that people are speaking opinions, but as a fact. That’s not how it works. I’m super glad you think MY will be terrible (I’ve never liked him at all), but I’m super embarrassed for you that you speak in absolutes.

Antonio bananas
Guest
Antonio bananas
3 years 7 months ago

Is this a joke. He used evidence to back up his prediction. I guess we have as much absolute proof that Young will win the MVP award as that of the contrary. however,the logic and evidence suggests he’ll probably keep declining and be a horrible fielder.

Chase Utley
Guest
Chase Utley
3 years 7 months ago

It’s not too bad to have some backup help for the right side of the infield as well. Young at 2B or 1B isn’t a bad-looking option if the regulars are playing at 30%.

jc
Guest
jc
3 years 7 months ago

Why no mention of the defense?

hk
Guest
hk
3 years 7 months ago

Depending upon which position(s) he plays and how often, it’s hard to say how much his poor defense will cost relative to the position adjustment he’ll get from playing in the field. However, even if the + from the position adjustment is offset by the – from his poor defense, if playing in the field leads to him needing more days off, the reduced playing time will hurt his WAR. He’s 36 years old, coming off a season in which 45% of his PA’s came as a DH and he’s moving to the NL where he can only DH in 10 games at most. I would not be surprised to see his PA’s drop by ~20% and such a drop in Replacement Runs would equate to losing another ~0.4 WAR. As a Phillies fan, I read this article with the hope that it would make me optimistic about the move, but unfortunately it did not.

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