Ever since we acquired Eric Young Jr. from Colorado after they placed him on waivers, I never looked at him as anything more than a utility outfielder. I saw a player who was taking advantage of his increased playing time which came as a result of flops by Collin Cowgill, Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Mike Baxter.
Young took hold of his new opportunity and has exceeded everyone’s expectations. Mark Simon of ESPN New York summarizes his recent performance:
Eric Young Jr. continued a recent hot streak with the game-winning hit in the Mets’ lone victory in the series on Sunday. It was his second career go-ahead hit in the ninth inning or later, both of which have come with the Mets. Young is 15-for-40 (.375 batting average) with nine runs scored, six RBIs and five steals in his last 10 games. He’s in the midst of a stretch in which he’s been safe on 16 of his last 17 steal attempts.
The Mets are 36-34 in Young’s 70 games played (28-43 without him). Estimates on his value to the team using advanced stats vary from 0.9 Wins Above Replacement (via Baseball-Reference.com) to 2.0 Wins Above Replacement (via Fangraphs.com), though both are big fans of his baserunning. In fact, for the season Young rates third in the majors in Fangraphs’ baserunning metric (Ultimate Baserunning Rating or UBR), contributing 8.6 runs, 8.2 of which have come with the Mets. He has the highest UBR in the game (3.8) over the last 30 days.
Has Young’s recent play given you pause to give him a second look and ask yourself if he should be considered an everyday player for the 2014 season?
I’m still leaning toward no. What he’s doing now is playing his ass off for a job next season. Terry Collins himself challenged his team right after the All Star break and told them they were all playing for the right to an everyday job next season for the team. Is it possible that this extra motivation is playing a part in what we’re seeing from Young now?
Also, let’s not act as though we are seeing elite or even above average numbers from Young. He’s still has a negative WAR for the season – a metric that considers all things offensively and defensively.
Before his current hot streak, Young was mired in a horrendous five week slump that saw him post a .236/.288/.300 batting line in August. And let’s not ignore that for all the hoopla, he’s still only batting .266 as a Met.
Young is up for arbitration this season and should get a nice raise from his $550K salary and possibly as much as $2 million. He’s under team control so no matter what, he’s ours to keep or to trade. But my question is, does this recent spurt change your opinion of him?
For those of you who already thought of him as our 2014 left fielder, has he validated your opinion?
For those of you who didn’t see him as an everyday player, has his recent performance changed your mind?
And for those of you who were sitting on the fence, where do you sit now as this season comes to an end?