Gregg Doyel submits today’s well thought out and insightful article. (Read: not insightful, nor well thought out)
In this masterful piece he introduces my favorite new term, “sabermetric hipster.”
ARLINGTON, Texas — The older baseball guys love Michael Young. The mainstream media, the grizzled vets, the baseball lifers. They love him. To them, he’s a great player, a clubhouse leader, a potential Hall of Famer.
Michael Young is a potential Hall of Famer just like anyone who plays professionally is a potential Hall of Famer. He has the potential because he has picked up a bat in the major leagues, beyond that, he is not a Hall of Famer.
The younger baseball guys don’t love Michael Young. They don’t hate him, but they don’t love him. They esteem him, nothing more or less. To them — the bloggers, the hipsters, the sabermetricians — Young is a good player, maybe even a very good player, but he’s not all that. He’s damn sure not a potential Hall of Famer.
You caught me, Gregg! I wear red beanies and jeans that are way too tight for me as I ride my skateboard and blog at the same time. But let’s take a look at why Michael Young is not a Hall of Famer. He is 35 and has a career WAR of 30.7, a lifetime OPS of .801, and a terrible fielder.
I’ll hypothesize as to why you think he is a potential Hall of Famer. 2,000+ hits!!!!! OMG! Let’s use an arbitrary number to assess whether someone is worthy of being named one of the best baseball players of all time!
Michael Young played, errr, batted, very well in 2011. No doubt this was aided by the fact that his BABIP and OBP were 30 points above his career average and his SLUG% was 23 points above his average. Sure, variance is to be expected, but he is 35 and can’t field any position, I smell a regression and less playing time very soon!
I’m telling you this for a variety of reasons, most notably this one: Michael Young had one of the biggest hits in the absolute biggest game, to date, this season. He had the leadoff double in the eighth inning Monday night, a shot into the gap in right-center that started the Rangers‘ tiebreaking rally in Game 5 of the World Series.
Let me get this straight, you wrote this entire article just because Michael Young hit a double?
Which brings me back to my plot line — Young’s role, for lack of a better word, in the evolution of the game’s coverage. His place in the conversation between the two camps of baseball media: old vs. new, mainstream vs. sabermetrics. Michael Young isn’t just straddling the fault line. He is the fault line. Him and Derek Jeter, I suppose, but Jeter is fading and the Yankees didn’t make it past the first round this year, whereas Young had one of the better seasons of his potential (?) Hall of Fame career and is here in the World Series — and delivering the second-biggest hit of Game 5, the rally-starting double that led to Napoli’s game-winning double that has the Rangers one victory from the title.
Unless Derek Jeter somehow killed every member of the media’s wife and children, he is by no means “the fault line.” Derek Jeter is 5th amongst active players in WAR, 1st amongst shortstops, not counting Alex Rodriguez, and has won a billion championships/gold gloves, which shouldn’t matter, but for some idiotic reason, does. Sabermetrics hipsters and the media love him.
Just for a quick little comparison, when Derek Jeter was 35, his OPS was .871, and he played SS for 150+ games. Michael Young’s OPS was .854.
I’m probably going to generalize some stuff along the way — I probably already have — but that’s what both sides of this argument deserve. They’ve been guilty of generalizing as well, shoehorning Young into this box or that one, as if he’s a one-dimensional character in some bigger drama.
Am I generalizing how undeserving of the HoF Michael Young is? I think not. This article can be summed up in a few sentences, why are you still writing…? Unless you maybe want to take a stand?
And he’s not. He’s just a guy who gets a lot of hits and drives in a lot of runs, but also complains a lot when he’s asked to move positions, something Young is asked to do because he’s so dreadful at almost every position he has ever played. Including first base. How many former shortstops can’t even beat out a catcher, Napoli, at a relatively easy position like first base? That’s Young, who was the designated hitter in Game 3 because Rangers manager Ron Washington preferred Napoli — the heavier, slower catcher — at first.
Doesn’t seem like a very strong case for a potential Hall of Fame career.
Anyhow, Young’s a complex case. He hits the ball like a star, getting to 2,000 career hits faster than all but 10 players since 1900.
Read that sentence again.
I read it over and over and over, and all I took away is how stupid you are for using hits as a metric to measure how good a player is. Young is not a complex case. He gets a lot of at bats and in those at bats, he “hits it where they ain’t” at an above average rate. Does he get on base at an extraordinary rate? (Hint: No) Does he hit for an extraordinary amount of power? (Hint: Given his position, No)
But those are stats — hits, RBI — that have been devalued in today’s age of sabermetrics. Young’s WAR, according to FanGraphs.com, was a relatively skimpy 3.8. That was 29th in the American League, tied with Carlos Santana. And Carlos Santana hit .239 this season.
Pick a side, Gregg. All you have done so far is say that there is a debate about Michael Young.
And if a hotheaded irrational like me is calling something unseemly … well, think about it.
And think about this: Young has 2,061 career hits and 917 RBI, and he turned 35 only last week, and he keeps himself in magnificent shape. He has played at least 155 games nine times in the past 10 years, reaching 135 the other year, and he just produced his sixth 200-hit season. He’s not going away. If he stays healthy, he’ll approach 3,000 hits, and if he gets there, he’ll be a Hall of Fame shoo-in. Baseball traditionalist, sabermetric hipster, I don’t care what side of the fault line you fall: You vote a guy with 3,000 career hits into the Hall of Fame.
Apparently, you don’t. The title of that article is called, Biggo very good, but Hall of Fame great? No. Gregg, you wrote that article! Do you know how many hits Craig Biggio has? 3,060. Waiiit just a minute. Because you have yet to side with the Baseball traditionalists or sabermetric hipsters (a term I take great offense to, because I hate hipsters), you don’t have to abide by the 3,000 hit rule.
“Because Biggio is not a Hall of Fame player.”
I’m sure that article is pretty stupid, but I don’t want to read any further.
You just do, unless you don’t. Unless Michael Young becomes the first player in history to reach that number and fall short. Hey, one of these days, someone will fall short. That’s a guarantee. Used to be 1,500 career RBI was a Hall of Fame benchmark. Get there, and you’re in. The first 36 guys to get there, got in.
Stop choosing arbitrary, dumb numbers to guarantee a spot in the Hall of Fame, just stop it. You know what those 36 guys probably (and I say probably because I am too lazy to look it up, but it is pretty much a guarantee) have in common? They are better fucking players than Michael Young, and were so through age 35.
And then Harold Baines got there. He was No. 37 to reach that number, and he finished with 1,628 RBI, and he’s not in the Hall of Fame. He’s not even close, never receiving more than 6.1 percent of the vote in his five years on the ballot.
And Harold Baines shouldn’t be in there.
Maybe Michael Young becomes the Harold Baines of 3,000 hits. Maybe the hipsters will win this war over WAR. Maybe they should win. I don’t know which school of thought, old or new, is the better one to analyze a baseball player. I don’t pretend to know the answer to that question.
You don’t know whether it is better to measure the individual accomplishments of a player using statistics or made up shit like clubhouse leadership and gumption? Why don’t you try taking a side and then writing an article.