What the heck is up with Michael Young? He’s suddenly hitting like a… third baseman. The shortstop-turned-third baseman (Who was vehemently against the move this past off-season) has seen a huge spike in his power numbers this season for the Texas Rangers.
2008: .402 SLG | .118 ISO | 7.2% HR/Fly Ball
2009: .597 SLG | .243 ISO | 20.6% HR/Fly Ball
Those are pretty big increases in three key power indicators. Right now, Young is on pace for more than 30 home runs this year, with a career high of 24 in 2005. His slugging percentage was also a career-high that season at .513 and his isolated power rate was .183. Impressively, Young’s 2009 strikeout and walk rates are right around his career averages of 6.7 BB% and 16.1 K%. His batted-ball rates are also right in line with his career averages.
A lot has been made about improved team defense being the sole reason for the team’s success this season, but Young’s offensive output from third base is a huge improvement over last season – especially when you also include his batting average of .354. In 2008, career utility player Ramon Vazquez played 70 games at the hot corner and had the best offensive season of his career while hitting .290/.365/.430 with six homers in 347 at-bats. The Rangers also fielded a number of fill-in third basemen including Travis Metcalf, and German Duran – as well as the former third-baseman-of-the-future Hank Blalock, now the club’s full-time designated hitter.
The good news for fantasy owners is that Young’s increased power numbers appear to be for real and there is no sign that they are a fluke. As well, sandwiched in between Ian Kinsler and Josh Hamilton, Young has plenty of protection in the lineup, which will keep hurlers from pitching around him. It also gives him plenty of opportunities to both drive in runs and score runs. The 32-year-old infielder appears to be in the midst of a career year, and fantasy owners should hold tight and enjoy the ride.