Many people involved in the Rangers organization, whether they be fans or front office personnel, will tell you that Michael Young was an invaluable resource for the Texas Rangers. In the clubhouse, he was a leader. He motivated players, kept them focused, and set an example worthy of mirroring. In stats, the club hadn’t had a better infielder since Buddy Bell, back in the 80s. Young moved around positions across the diamond, and accommodated the club at every level he could. His tenure with Texas, and two other MLB clubs, is enough to merit him a Hall of Fame ticket. Whether it be the Rangers Hall of Fame, the Major League Hall of Fame or both, Michael Young will get in.
Position(s): SS, 2B, 3B, DH, UTIL
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Height: 6’ 1” Weight: 200 lb.
Born: October 19, 1976
Drafted: 1997, 5th Round, Toronto
Debut: September 29, 2000
Final Game: September 29, 2013
Young’s career numbers aren’t the greatest for his position and era, but they certainly aren’t anything to scoff at. In a career that lasted 14 years, Young finished with a slash line of .300/.346.441. Batting at or above .300 is remarkable in itself. Over his 7,918 at-bats, Young only struck-out 1235 times, and racked up 2,375 hits. Of those hits, 686 went for extra bases. His 185 home runs, 1,030 RBIs and 90 stolen bases round out his career hitting highlights.
Young was the most impressive during his time with Texas, where he spent 13 of his 14 Major League years. Wearing the Texas “T” on his hat, Young posted a .301/.347/.444 slash line, with 2,230 hits and 984 RBIs. He saw six consecutive All-Star nods, from 2004-09, and one additional appearance in 2011. His resume includes the following awards: AL Batting Champion (2005), All-Star MVP (2006), Golden Glove (2008), and the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award (2008, 2011).
Those awards, all earned in his time in Texas, show just how fantastic of a player Young was. He holds the top spot in a few club records for the Rangers, including: hits, runs, doubles and triples. He finishes number 10 in average, sixth in homers, and third in RBIs in the organization’s history. These numbers don’t quit fully explain just how useful Young was to the Texas Rangers.
Although a part of the Major League club since ’00, Young’s full impact wasn’t recognized until 2004. When Alex Rodriguez left the club in 2004, Young was shifted from his normal position at second, to fill the void at shortstop. In addition to the loss of A-Rod, Texas acquired second baseman Alfonso Soriano, which also played a role in shifting Young to short. In 2009, Young was forced to step aside again, giving up shortstop to Elvis Andrus.
During the 2010-11 offseason, the Rangers picked up Adrian Beltre from the free agent market. Young, once again, was moved to a new role. He would become the club’s primary DH, as well as an all-around utility infielder. He was also expected to see some playing time at first base, a first for him in his career.
Young’s final two years with Texas weren’t exactly pleasant. Due to the constant position changes, and lack of communication from the front office regarding these changes, Young wasn’t happy. Having previously requested a trade at the time of the arrival of Andrus, the club knew Young wasn’t pleased. After struggling in the 2012 season, the Rangers intended to reduce Young’s playing time in 2013.
It wasn’t a secret that Young was upset. He had been forced to move positions, to accommodate new players, on a few occasions. He stated that he was “misled and manipulated” by the organization, and felt that the lack of communication wasn’t right. Whether you feel that Young was abused, or that the club did what was best for the organization, most Rangers followers will agree that he was truly appreciated for what he did in Texas.
Although he did not specifically request it at the time, Young was eventually traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in 2012. Since his departure from the club, the Rangers have not issued number 10 to any player or coach. Some speculate that the organization intends to retire the number, in honor of Young’s contributions to the Texas Rangers.
Now that we know just how much Young impacted the Rangers, could he possibly make their Hall of Fame? What about the Major League Hall of Fame? Tim Cowlishaw, of the Dallas Morning News, doesn’t seem to thing Michael Young could make it into the Big League Hall. In a chat held in August 2013, Cowlishaw was asked if Young could get Hall of Fame votes someday. Cowlishaw answered back, “A lot of guys get votes each year. Michael Young doesn’t have the credentials to make the Hall of Fame. Excellent player for many years but he’s not even close to 3,000 hits and he certainly doesn’t have the power to make up for that.”
Is 3,000 hits the measure of a Hall of Famer? Well, to refute Mr. Cowlishaw’s response, there are a few players that haven’t reached the 3,000-hit club. Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, and Mel Ott are just some of the players that came short of Cowlishaw’s requirement. Guess what? They are all in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.
By no means am I saying that Michael Young is better, or even just as good, as the above mentioned baseball legends. I am, however, saying that falling short of 3,000 hits is no reason to keep someone out. Whether Young makes it to Cooperstown or not, one thing can be said with almost full certainty: Michael Young will make it to the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame. The man deserves it. He also deserves to have his number retired, accompanying Johnny Oates and Nolan Ryan in Rangers history.