Jim Jones released an album in 2006 named Product of My Environment. The most popular song off POME goes by the name “We Fly High”. The album and song name fit Chris Young’s career well. The Princeton attendee always stuck out in the Padres’ rotation – not because his ears sit just below the heavens either – but because he is the archetypal PETCO-made man; with most of his batted balls taking flight, he takes advantage of physics and the spacious yard preventing home runs.
If Young is truly a PETCO production then the Padres declining his 2011 option is going to become the first paragraph in his career’s final chapter. That is if injuries don’t take him out of the league first. Injuries did a great job taking Young out of the 2008-2010 seasons. Assuming Young does stay moderately healthy, what does he offer to a team?
Young’s career home ERA, FIP, and xFIP are higher on the road. His strikeouts drop, his walks rise, and his home runs rate is actually the least affected of the holy trinity of pitching ratio statistics. Worth noting, is that Young’s BABIP remains equally deflated and his batting ball portfolio is static too. Looking at career statistics when Young has clearly evolved – or devolved – as a performer, meanwhile recent statistics are crude thanks to the mendacity of single season road/home splits, and with Young’s injury issues that’s exactly the sample size he leaves.
The observations about Young don’t illuminate a palace of potential either. There is a big difference between pitching at 88-90 and 84-86 which is where Young sits now. The pitch is often described as heavy and one has to assume Young maxes out whatever advantages come from having an extreme downwards plane. Batters have still found themselves missing the pitch around 6% of the time since 2008 despite the awkward velocity drops. Young’s secondary stuff collectively plays the role of breadwinner; with his breaking pitches topping 16% whiffs and his off-speed pitch topping 13% itself.
Adjusting his pitch usage based on his fastball’s eroding state seems like a good idea on the surface. Young has always ridden his lukewarm heater hard; averaging 74% for his career and that percentage raises throughout various non-two strike counts. The dynamics of pitching make it impossible to guess at how altering a variable like fastball usage will affect the rest of Young’s stuff and his results.
Corey Brock suggests the chances of a Young re-upping are slim. Product of his environment? Answer coming soon.