Considering the numbers and his stature, it was surprising witnessing the short lines to collect Michael Young’s autograph at the Phillies’ ALS festival last week.
Young’s 44 hits lead the team and he is on pace to finish the season with more than 2,300 career hits.
“I can’t believe we don’t have to wait long for a Michael Young [signature],” a young fan said. “He could get in the Hall of Fame.”
Indeed. The classy third baseman has a chance for enshrinement in the Hall of Fame if his 36-year old body remains intact and he continues to be productive.
However, there’s not as much love as you would expect for Young in Philly. Could it have something to do with his lack of extra-base hits? Could it have something to do with Young grounding into 11 double plays by mid-May?
“I don’t think people in Philadelphia understand and appreciate Michael Young yet,” a NL scout said. “He’s a solid player, who hits everything on the nose.”
Young hits the ball so hard that double plays are part of the deal, just like strikeouts for Ryan Howard.
In 2006, Young grounded into a career-high 27 double plays with the Texas Rangers. But there were no complaints from Rangers fans since Young hit. 314 with 103 RBIs and an .814 OPS.
The guy who appreciates Young the most is arguably the most popular athlete in Philadelphia.
“I can’t tell you how much I love it that Michael Young is on this team,” Cliff Lee said. “The guy is the epitome of what you want in a ballplayer. He plays hard. He hits the ball hard. He’s smart and he understands the game as well as anybody. I don’t know how you can’t appreciate a guy like that.”
Especially when you compare Young’s stats to last season’s third baseman, Placido Polanco, who was oft-injured and ineffective.
“That’s a huge upgrade at third for Philly,” the NL scout said. “Polanco killed them last year and now you have a guy, who very well could hit .300 and have 200 hits. He might not hit a lot of homers and he may ground into double plays but he is a helluva player, who is a winner. You want guys like that on your team.”
By the numbers
Michael Young: .294 average, .392 OBP Phillies 2013
Placido Polanco: .257 average, .302 OBP Phillies 2012
Pedro Feliz: .266 average .308 OBP, Phillies 2009
David Bell: .278 average, .345 OBP Phillies 2006