Since returning from an Opening Day quad injury in mid-April, New York Mets outfielder Chris Young has held his spot in both left field and the meat of the order. The problem for the Mets and their fans is that Young hasn’t maintained that status through his play, but more likely his salary. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson eagerly signed the veteran Young to a one-year, $7.25 million contract in November during the early portion of free agency.
Alderson showed a vote of confidence to Young and the last thing he wants is to see a signing he clearly felt strongly about to come back splashing egg on his face. At this point though, it’s becoming hard to ignore Young’s detriment to the team offensively and it has to make you wonder…When does it become about what’s best for the team instead of the front office looking bad for its hasty investment? Is it about that time for Terry Collins (if allowed) to start taking at-bats away from Chris Young?
Met fans likely wanted to give the 30-year old outfielder the benefit of the doubt after returning from injury and starting his season, a notoriously rusty stretch for many players, two weeks late. But now it has been over a hundred at-bats (108 to be exact) and Young has failed to come through for the Amazin’s at just about any and every turn since.
The stats really tell the story when it comes to Young’s offensive season. He’s hitting a lowly .204 with three homers and just eleven RBIs with a ghastly .289 on-base percentage. Any way you slice the split stats, they aren’t good–Young is costing the Mets offense. The first two months of the season have been consistent for Young only in its mediocrity concerning offensive production.
He’s beginning to play himself out of the lineup with his almost daily rally killing in the middle of the Mets order, unable to come through with a clutch hit or even get runners in from third with less than two outs. So much of Young’s offensive game as suffered that its becoming noticeable how much he’s beginning to cost the team in the five hole, offering no protection whatsoever to David Wright and Curtis Granderson.
The most obvious option to get more time in the outfield is Eric Young Jr. Although dealing with an injury right now, Young Jr. deserves more at-bats in general when healthy. Granted, he’s only hitting .229 but he creates problems for pitchers and defenses with his being well-rounded as a ballplayer. His most obvious asset is his speed, which he’s used to steal 17 bases in 18 attempts. He gets on base considerably more than Young and always appears to help the team with a bunt here or a run scored there. He serves as a prototypical catalyst for the offense; a table-setter that gets on base for the bigger bats in the lineup. We could see EY help the Mets offense the way he did in April when he was playing more frequently.
Another option is recent call-up Eric Campbell. He’s only played in eleven major league games but Campbell has impressed with both his bat and ability to play multiple positions. He’s 8/24 with 5 RBIs in his short career and while he isn’t the Mets’ savior, at least we haven’t seen this story before Young’s bat is unreliable in the middle of the order. What’s the difference if Collins were to give the young player who at least brings some energy to match a little bit of skill a chance to display his talents whenever possible?
Neither of those guys are the future for the Mets in left field, but neither is Chris Young. Alderson and Collins must consider that he can’t continue to hit behind the three best hitters in the lineup and provide no relief. Of course there’s a chance he turns it around and begins to do what Alderson envisioned when he shelled out the contract but we can’t hold our breath on that. New York will probably ride out Young a bit longer hoping he snaps out of his 100 at-bat long skid and all Met fans can do is hope he helps more than he hurts.
Maybe it’s Eric Young Jr., Eric Campbell or somebody else, but if Chris Young is going to continue to kill rallies in the heart of the Mets order then perhaps he can’t see all the left field at-bats. His contract is the only logical thing keeping him where he is already but the money needs to be earned by the player. He’s in an opportunity to succeed in this batting order but has failed to find his stroke during his short tenure in New York. Young is someone to keep an eye on moving forward when looking at the trials and tribulations of this New York Mets offense.