FG+ Over/Under Game: Chris Young

This week, we’ll be giving away one FG+ membership per day by playing the FG+ Over/Under Game. The wrinkle on this game is that it’s subjective: we’ll provide a player and a number, and you use the comments section to make your best argument for the over or the under. The RotoGraphs staff will pick a winner every day, and that person will get a free subscription to FG+, which includes 11 full-length fantasy strategy articles, 1100 player caps on the player pages, and ongoing access to the FG+ blog, which features the writing the FanGraphs team provides to ESPN Insider on a weekly basis all year.

For our fifth (and final) over/under game, let’s take a look at Chris Young the outfielder.

The over/under for today’s game is 21. As in, will Chris Young hit more than 21 home runs in 2012?

If you had a subscription to FG+ right now, you could consult Jeff Zimmerman’s excellent piece about playing through injuries and the effect that has on projections. And you could learn more about Young’s batted ball distance after he injured his thumb half-way through last year.

But since you don’t have Zimmerman’s research at your fingertips — and yes, I’m suggesting that current FG + subscribers take a back seat and allow those without your knowledge to compete for this — you’ll have to do the best you can to predict the number of home runs that Chris Young the outfielder will hit in the coming season. Use any methods at your disposal.

Have at it!

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Graphs: Baseball, Roto, Beer, brats (OK, no graphs for that...yet), repeat. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris.

17 Responses to “FG+ Over/Under Game: Chris Young”

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  1. Ben says:

    I’m Ozzing with optimism today

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  2. Dandy Salderson says:

    Interesting one but 21 is too low to set the bar. He has averaged 23 over the last five years, which include some pre-peak seasons. At 28 years old he is more likely to improve than drop off. Ill go 25.

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  3. novaether says:

    Over – let’s looks at his batted ball data.

    It’s important to note that Chris Young has a history of good health. The nagging thumb injury at the end of last season was the only injury I could dig up.

    That being said, we can be fairly confident in expecting him to have 550+ AB this season. His career home run rate per AB is 4.14%, meaning we should roughly expect 22.8 dingers on average. However, there’s reason so suspect he’s likely to surpass even that amount.

    A quick glance at Young’s batted ball data shows an upward trend in fly ball rates at the expense of ground balls. As we all know, you need to hit a fly ball (or one heck of a line drive) to hit a home run. The 2011 data appears to damper this trend. However, under closer inspection there is a clear and steep downwrad trend in his FB% over the course of the season. This is matched by a similar trend in ISO. It’s not a far stretch of the imagination to believe that decline was due to his thumb injury.

    Assuming Young’s thumb is healed, we can expect about a 54% FB rate from a crude fit of his fly ball data. Using 550 AB, his career HR/FB rate of 11.6%, and his career K% of 22.8%, we can estimate a 2012 home run total of 26.6 home runs.

    So, whether you expect Young to maintain career rates this season (22.8 HR) or to continue developing as a player (26.6 HR), you should expect young to hit OVER 21.

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  4. Cyle Greenwell says:

    Continued success from Upton, an improving Roberts, a full season from Hill, and with the newly acquired Kubel, Chris Young should have enough protection to see enough pitches to get enough hits that turn into at least 21 home runs. I’m saying over 21 hr’s. I’m saying I like this lineup.

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  5. DaBulls says:

    Under. I have him locked up in a keeper league, so he’s absolutely guaranteed to underperform, despite Novaether’s well-crafted argument.

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  6. JR Ewing says:

    I’d say 29.

    Since I don’t have split data for his HR/FB or FB% available to me I can’t tell you the changes last season before and after the thumb injury. What I can tell you is that he only hit 4 HR after the injury. That the last 3 seasons his FB% has gone up while his LD% has stayed about the same. And that his HR/FB has gone up and down, but his career average of 10.7% (including last year which was the lowest since his rookie season) is not too far from the 11% he had in 2010. Assuming he gets 660 at bats, using the average FB% from the last 3 years and that career HR/FB rate I round to 27 HRs. If I could get those HR/FB and FB% numbers split, so I could remove the data after his early July thumb injury (making the assumption this was the problem), I would potentially show recent growth for Chris. Those obviously terrible HR/FB stats in his injured at bats represent 16.5% of his PA the last 3 years and 9.% of his total PA. If I take those away I could assume a 9% bump in career HR/FB, which would actually make that higher than the 11% he posted in 2010. Using that I round to 29 HRs for CBY in 2012 with 660 PA.

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  7. JR Ewing says:

    Oh yeah and I guess 29 means I’m in the “over” camp too.

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  8. Los says:

    Taking the over on this.

    While I generally hate using monthly splits for anything as it becomes too easy to just have a post hoc explanation of a player struggling or a player changing his approach, we actually know that Chris Young injured his thumb at the end of June. Looking at Youngs monthly flyball splits, you can see that his flyball % dropped significantly (over 9%) from his pre-injury rate. It should be noted that his pre-injury rate was above career norms so some regression was to be expected but the drop-off was significant.

    Not only did the number of his fly-balls drop off significantly, the fly-balls he was hitting were not travelling as far. Last year, Chris young hit 20 homeruns on 205 fly balls. Therefore, his HR/FB rate for the year was approximately 9.8%. However, if you split the data to pre-injury and post-injury, it seems much more likely that the injury affected him. Pre-injury, he has a HR/FB rate of approximately 12.7%. Post-injury his HR/FB rate was approximate 5.7%.

    Another factor with Young is that he is basically a dead-pull hitter. Hand injuries (including thumb injuries) tend to harm pull hitters more than spray hitters due to the added torque that is necessary to drive the ball to the pull side.

    Youngs career HR/FB rate is 11.6% and his career FB% is 48.2%. As a hitter in his prime, you can probably project a bump in those numbers but I will use them as a baseline. Using these numbers. Chris Young would need to have 394 ABs to hit 22 HRs. He has never failed to reach that threshold of home runs so once again the over is the better play.

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  9. Andy Chiabotta says:

    Over 25. Crispie is healthy, good/better lineup, more mature.

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  10. yosoyfiesta says:

    Over, with a .230 average

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  11. carpaia says:

    Over, with a possibility for 30/30. I love the passion that Gibby has and his players, CY included absolutely love playing for him . It’s a hitters park, and the D backs have some thump in the lineup…career year for CY is my call..heck, he might even hit .260

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  12. Fattinton_Bear says:


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  13. Tnuts says:

    Yes, barely – Young’s what 27-28 yrs old and hit 20 last year, and 27 the year before. His fb% have been consistennt and I think as he matures some of the speed will develop into power. AZ is a good spot to hit HRs, his ISO #s seem to be consisstent, and if he can just curve the O-Swing rate a little, he should be good for 25.

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  14. Sabermetric Solutions says:

    I’m taking the over on Chris Young.

    Last season was a regression for Young who only batted .236 with 20 homeruns in a ballpark with high elevation that has the 10th best park factor for homers. While it looks bad on paper, we have to remember that at the allstar break, Young had 16 homeruns and a .262 average. That means that he was on pace for about 27 homeruns and around 92 RBIs. That would have left him with a season remarkably similar to last season (27 Homers, .257 average, and 91 RBIs). Unfortunately, Young’s second half was terrible with him posting a .193 average and a .311 Slugging average.

    What happened in the second half? Around the first week of July, Young strained a ligament in his thumb and decided to play through it. Don Baylor, the Diamondbacks hitting coach, admitted at the end of the season that he believed Young’s thumb injury is what caused his tank after the allstar break. Assuming that he is correct, there should be nothing wrong with Young in the coming season.

    In fact, until the allstar break, Young was playing better than he had the previous season. He only had an 18% K%, down from 21.8% last season and a crazy 52.5% FB rate. That’s about 12% higher than the average hitter. On top of that, Young had an 11.2% HR/FB rate. That means that 5.8% of all of Chris Young’s balls in play would have been homeruns. If Young continued his rate of balls in play, he would have finished with around 543 (BIP = PA – K – BB – HBP). That comes to about 31 homeruns.

    I think that undershooting his projected homerun total by 11 proves that Young’s thumb injury affected his play in the second half. Assuming that he is healthy in 2012, Chris Young will be back to normal, hitting more than 21 homeruns, and possibly even hit his peak at age 28.

    On another note, I’m just wondering who won the FG+ game yesterday. I didn’t see a mention of it in the comments.

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  15. Eno Sarris says:
    FanGraphs Supporting Member

    Novaether and Dandy, one for argument and one for brevity, are the runner s up. I like Sabermetrics Solutions for the win today, especially since he answered every single game this week! Congrats dude.

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    • Sabermetric Solutions says:

      Thanks Eno! I look forward to seeing Fangraphs+. I never thought that something $5 would compel me to write over 2200 words about baseball.

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      • JR Ewing says:

        … and with under 25 words of awesomeness you just outdid the other 10,000(?) words on this page. :D

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