Mike Olt’s Arrival May End The Michael Young Era

As you’ve undoubtedly heard by now, the Rangers have summoned third base prospect Mike Olt from Double-A, and he’ll be joining the team in Texas in time for tonight’s game against the Angels. With Adrian Beltre manning the hot corner, though, third base is not in his immediate future, and the Rangers certainly aren’t calling Olt up to sit on the bench. Instead, his arrival signifies the likely end of the Michael Young Era in Texas. At least, the era where Young played any kind of meaningful role on the team.

Young’s been a staple in Texas since 2001, and contributed at least +2.5 WAR in every season since 2003. While there’s a pretty good case that he got overrated by the mainstream media, it was more of them making too much out of a good player rather than Young simply not being an actual contributor. He wasn’t a perfect player, but he was a durable +3 win player who the team could rely on, and that kind of consistent production has a lot of value.

However, at age 35, Young appears to have hit a wall. After accumulating at least 50 extra base hits in eight of the last nine years, Young has just 22 this season, and all three of his home runs came in the first five weeks of the season. Since May 7th — the last time he hit a ball over the fence — Young is batting just .247/.275/.306, and just 14 of his 71 hits have gone for extra bases. That’s 305 plate appearances over 72 games without a home run. Exactly five years ago — beginning on May 8th, 2007 — Young had a 77 game stretch without hitting a home run, but he hit .330 with 21 doubles during the stretch, so he was productive even without the long ball.

The Rangers have patiently waited for him to come out of his slump. Now, three months into it, they can’t wait any longer. They have to accept that Michael Young, Good Hitter may be gone forever. And, with Mike Olt offering the possibility of some much needed power at the 1B/DH positions that Young has manned this season, making the change is absolutely the right move.

Now, Olt comes with some warts of his own. He was striking out in 25% of his plate appearances as a 23-year-old in Double-A, and there are questions about how much contact he’s going to make in the big leagues. A lot of Olt’s success in the minors came from drawing walks (16.4% BB% last year, 14.5% this year), and minor league walk rates don’t always translate to the big leagues, especially if opposing pitchers find an area in the strike zone that they can exploit. However, Olt has big time power and he drives the ball to all fields, so the power should play from day one, especially in a park like Texas. With that kind of thump, he can strike out a lot and still be a significant upgrade over Michael Young.

Using the fantastic new leaderboard filters, I queried out every qualified hitter in baseball this year with a K% of 25% or higher and an ISO of .200 or higher. Here’s the list:

Jason Kubel, 136 wRC+
Curtis Granderson, 126 wRC+
Adam Dunn, 126 wRC+
Corey Hart, 124 wRC+
Mike Napoli, 113 wRC+
Pedro Alvarez, 109 wRC+
Chris Davis, 101 wRC+
Ike Davis, 89 wRC+

By and large, these guys are productive hitters, though their contact rates (and in most cases, lack of defensive value) keep them from being true stars. Seven of the eight are producing at an above average rate and the one who isn’t has a .230 BABIP. Even if Olt’s contact issues prove as severe as Alvarez’s, that’s still a quality hitter, and one who can instantly provide some life to a struggling Rangers offense.

While Young is still highly regarded in some circles for his personality and leadership qualities, a team with World Series aspirations simply can’t carry him as an everyday player anymore. ZIPS projects a .315 wOBA going forward, which is a substantial improvement over what he’s given them in the first half of the year but still below replacement level for a guy who only contributes at the plate.

Maybe Young does still have something left in the tank, and he’ll find his power stroke again at some point. The Rangers should hope that’s true since they’re still on the hook to pay him $16 million in 2013, but they can’t afford to let those hopes interfere with their pursuit of a championship this year. Young’s lack of production has forced the Rangers hand, and with Olt tearing up the Double-A, the team simply has to make this switch. If Olt hits, it’s hard to see Young ever getting a regular job back in Texas.

While he was a terrific contributor for the past decade, the Rangers have to move on, and in calling up Mike Olt, they apparently have come to the same conclusion. He can still help them as a bat off the bench if he’s willing to accept that role, but the days of Young being a fixture of the Rangers line-up appear to be over.

Mike Newman shot some video of Olt in spring training, so you can see his swing for yourself below.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.



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Brian
Guest
Brian

Dave, Is Michael Young droppable in a 10 team roto and 12 team h2h? In my 10 team roto, Young has first base, second base, and third base eligibility while my 12 team h2h Young has only first and third. In my 10 team roto I was thinking of dropping Young for either Brandon Morrow or Matt Joyce because I really need help with pitching and I think Joyce is a solid player. If not, I was also thinking about dropping Ian Desmond for either Morrow or Joyce because Desmond will be out till late August. As for my 12 team h2h, I’m inclined to keep Young since there are no better options or should I drop Young for Mike Olt in my 12 team h2h? Thanks!

BX
Guest
BX

Dave Cameron openly says in like every chat that he’s not a fantasy guy, so I’d assume your question won’t get answered.

Justin
Guest
Justin

“I’m not a fantasy guy”

– Dave Cameron

heychuck
Guest
heychuck

Huh, I didn’t know this was a fantasy baseball article.

walt526
Guest
walt526

Get a life.

Sleight of Hand Pro
Guest
Sleight of Hand Pro

i hate promting this type of response, but i couldnt help but chuckle.

Brian
Guest
Brian

Or any of you guys other than Dave? Possible to give me any advice?

jaywrong
Member
jaywrong

I’d drop for Morrow if you need pitching.

ArodinmyPujols
Guest
ArodinmyPujols

read the article again, then ponder his stats for a while, then read the title of the article, then ask the guy in first place if he wants Mr Young, then ask the guy in last place if he wants Mr Young … for free, if he accepts, then laugh at him simultaneously while sending him the link to this article.

part of me hopes you are the team in last place.

dnc
Guest
dnc

I’ll bite – I’d drop him. He has no value at this point. If you can find a sucker to trade for him you do it, no matter the return, but that seems highly unlikely.

Matt NW
Guest
Matt NW

Wanting other people to make your fantasy baseball decisions for you is humiliating.

Brian
Guest
Brian

Am I banned from posting future comments or questions if you guys continue to “vote -1” on my posts?

Daniel
Member
Member
Daniel

Maybe not banned, Brian, but I’d advise against it.

Brian
Guest
Brian

Guys, I’m sorry. I had no idea about there being a rule against posting fantasy baseball questions on this site. Please forgive me.

dnc
Guest
dnc

Brian, for future reference this is the place to go for fantasy advice around here: http://www.fangraphs.com/fantasy/

Also, you’re not going to get banned or blocked from posting for accumulating too many (-1)’s

Brazen Reader
Guest
Brazen Reader

You’re looking for razzball.com

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