Michael Young, “Whatever is best for the team” – Once Again

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Michael Young may be the best teammate in the history of professional sports.  We all read reports about players have an affect upon a locker room, how they work philanthropically with organizations and how they give their time to special causes and beliefs.  I do not mean that type of teammate.  I am referring to the type of teammate that will do anything and everything to win.  When you hear a player quoted as saying, “whatever is best for the team”, he should attribute that quote to Michael Young of the Texas Rangers.  He has said it now three times and I truly believe that he means it each and every time.

Michael Young came up in the Rangers organization as a second baseman.  He was their starting second baseman from 2000 to 2003.  During those seasons, he increased his batting average from .250 to over .300.  He became a very good offensive player in the American League by the age of 26.  In the 2003 season, Young scored 106 runs, had over 200 hits, 33 doubles, drove in 72 runs and had an OPS of .785.  It was during the 2003-2004 off-season that discussions about a player named Alex Rodriguez and a potential trade started to surface.  On February 16, 2004 Alex Rodriguez was traded to the Yankees for Alfonso Soriano and Joaquin Arias (and cash).  Soriano was an All-Star at second base, a Silver Slugger Award winner and a Most Valuable Player candidate.  Young was asked to and offered to change positions for the benefit of the Rangers organization.  It made sense.  Young had the ability to play other positions and the Rangers now had another established second baseman.

From 2004 to 2008, Michael Young was the starting shortstop for the Rangers, and an All-Star every season.  He finished in the Top 20 of the MVP voting two times in that stretch and won a Gold Glove.  He averaged over 200 hits per season, around 100 runs scored per season, an OPS of .800, driving in 90 runs and was a complete offensive player.  He was considered one of the leaders in the organization.  However, the Rangers had a shortstop in their minor league system that was ready for the majors, Elvus Andrus.  So, what happened?  The Rangers asked Michael Young once again to move positions to help the organization.  By this time, Soriano left the Rangers and Ian Kinsler had a lock on the second baseman position, so Young agreed to move to third base.  Young was still the heart of the organization, although a player named Josh Hamilton seemed to be in the spotlight.

For the 2009 and 2010 season, the Texas Rangers had Ian Kinsler at second base, Elvus Andrus at shortstop, Michael Young at third base, Josh Hamilton in centerfield and are the current American League Champions.  During the 2010-2011 off-season, the Rangers made a play for Cliff Lee and failed.  They signed Brandon Webb to help the pitching staff and the latest reports out of Texas indicated that they will not be bringing back Vladimir Guerrero as their designated hitter.  So, what next?  Easy.  Move Michael Young again.  Move a third baseman that in the past two seasons has averaged a .300 batting average, 180 hits, 21 home runs, 80 runs batted in and is only 33 years old.  The nice guy needs to move again to make way for someone else.

On January 5, it was announced that the Rangers signed third baseman Adrian Beltre to a 6 year/$96 million contract.  However, before signing Beltre they asked Young if he would consider moving positions once again.  It was reported that his initial reaction was no.  However, after consideration Young changed his mind.  In a choice of staying with the Rangers or not, he decided to stay.

“I want to do what’s best for a winning team,” Young said. “That’s always been the case and it always will be. I’m willing to do what I need to do to help this team.”  The fact that Young has three years left on his current contract at $16 million per season is also a very good reason to stay and help.

Michael Young is now the designated hitter and super-utility player for the Texas Rangers.  He is a man who has agreed to change positions three times for an organization after becoming one of the best at each position he has played.  Young will focus on hitting only and will occasionally play in the field at second, third and short as needed.  He will also take some time in spring training to learn first base.  With Young’s track record, he will probably become an All-Star at first base in the next two seasons.  That will be just enough time for a current first baseman to become a free agent and be signed by the Rangers.

What will happen to Young then?  He will move positions again, probably to left field.  Why? Because he is a good teammate and will do “whatever is best for the team”.