Ever since Eric Young stole 87 bases in 118 attempts in Single-A back in 2006 with the Rockies organization, fantasy owners have been salivating over his fantasy prospects. With respectable strikeout rates and consistently high BABIP marks coupled with playing half his future home games in offense-inflating Coors Field, we simply couldn’t wait for his first opportunity at a full-time job. Unfortunately, that never really came to pass. After being shuffled between second base and the outfield throughout his career, Young finally recorded more than 200 at-bats in a season and earned a smidge over $9 in fantasy value, good for 49th among outfielders.
While Young had always shown excellent wheels — he had stolen 62 bases in 601 at-bats prior to this season — he never played enough to be considered anything more than a cheap speed option in NL-Only leagues. This year began no differently, as he was once again a utility player for the Rockies. But this time, his stolen base pace declined and without any contributions anywhere else, it made him close to worthless even in NL-Only leagues.
Then in a desperate move to fix their weak outfield, the Mets swooped in and acquired Young in mid-June, immediately installing him as their lead-off man and every day left fielder. This instantly boosted Young’s fantasy value and made him worth considering in shallower 12-team mixed formats.
For those pouncing on Young after his move to the Big Apple, you were duly rewarded as he made us quickly forget his disappointing steals total year-to-date and went on a stolen base rampage with 38 successful swipes in 45 attempts. Unfortunately, he did absolutely nothing else to delight his owners, so he was literally a one-category contributor.
Yesterday, I unveiled the stolen base aging curve and the orange line is where we should look to when analyzing Young in that context. Young will play most of the 2014 season as a 29 year old, which is perhaps the exact age where players lose the most stolen bases from one year to the next. For a guy with no power and a .258 career batting average, that’s an ominous sign.
The biggest leap of faith future fantasy owners will have to take is that the Mets will continue trotting him out there on a daily basis. He sports a weak .299 career wOBA, while Steamer projects him to post a .319 OBP. That’s no one’s idea of a guy that a team that should be rebuilding should be batting at the top of the lineup, let alone playing every day. So his playing time doesn’t appear to be very secure. This is of course no surprise given that he was rarely able to find a whole lot of it in Colorado, which spurred his move to the Mets to begin with.
It’s unlikely that Young will be a highly coveted hitter in fantasy league drafts next year, so his potential to be overvalued is rather limited. However, there is significant risk here between the possible stolen base decline and playing time question marks. As such, only acquire him if you’re paying for less than 550 at-bats and 40+ steals.
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