Presented Without Comment

Via Paul Hagen:

Can Young, at age 36, play third better than he ever has before?

“I expect to,” he said. “Preparation is the key to anything and I feel like I’m prepared and working hard, and I want to keep doing that during the season. I feel comfortable now, but there is always work to be done. I know I haven’t been at third in a while, but I do know what it takes to play third base at a high level and I have definite goals in my head about the type of third base I intend to play. I’m going to keep working hard until I get there.”

He’s keeping those goals to himself, and they’re not necessarily numerical.

“It’s the way I feel over there. The third base I know I can play. I don’t feel like I’ve played it to this point in my career. I’ve worked at it and worked at it, but at the same time you need the reps. A lot of things are starting to click over there that I was kind of searching for a little bit earlier. This is a classic example of learning by doing,” he said.

I did offer some commentary at HardballTalk.

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37 comments

  1. Xando

    March 17, 2013 10:12 AM

    Have you been watching this spring? He’s been looking pretty sharp at the hot corner to me.

  2. Heather

    March 17, 2013 10:36 AM

    I dunno. This post, and the one over at HB talk seems to be mocking Young. If anything, I appreciate the fact Young wants to improve and seems committed to improving. Will that actually bear fruit? Who knows, but it sure beats NOT attempting to improve.

    The people to fault here are the Front Office…but even I can’t fault them too much, for this reason: the Phillies aren’t favorites this year. Their chances to make the playoffs seem to hinge on a high-variance strategy, wherein most of their high variance bets pay off.

    Michael Young fits into that strategy. He could be a -1 WAR player. He could also be a 3.0 WAR player if everything goes right.

    Honestly, the Young at 3rd strategy is eminently mockable, but when you peel back the onion, it makes sense.

  3. LTG

    March 17, 2013 11:43 AM

    I’ve been watching, as I’m sure BB has. I’ve seen a guy with softer hands than Mike Fontenot and a stronger arm than Chase Utley. So, maybe he won’t be horrendous at 3B. But given his past performance at 3B, when he was younger and playing it every day, we should expect him to surrender 5-15 runs over the year compared to the league average 3B. Why? Because as he has shown in spring training, his lateral movement is bad and his reaction times are slow. He’s competent at fielding the stuff hit to him and slightly in front of him. But bad at getting stuff to his left or right or far in front of him. That’s just what Michael Young brings as a defender. He looks okay because the plays he doesn’t make look hard. But other 3Bs make them and he doesn’t. That hurts the Phillies.

  4. LTG

    March 17, 2013 12:24 PM

    Yeah… Halladay is not healthy.

  5. BobSmith77

    March 17, 2013 02:47 PM

    How many times are you are going to kick a dead horse? Yeah Young is going to stink at 3B this year. We get it.

    It also isn’t even on the top 20 of factors on whether the Phils contend or not this year.

  6. WayneKerrins

    March 17, 2013 05:26 PM

    I liked em Bill

  7. Allen

    March 17, 2013 09:56 PM

    Can we all agree that we’re hoping young proves us all wrong? At the very least, guy is not using age as an excuse.

  8. Anthony

    March 17, 2013 10:22 PM

    Man, you guys are relentlessly negative! Give these .gifs a rest. Not only are they not relevant to how he’s playing right now, they’re not even funny. Seriously, you guys aren’t an objective Phillies source. It’s Ruben sucks, anyone with the last name of Young sucks, the Phillies are doomed. Wait until at least June for snarky Monday morning quarterbacking.

  9. EDGE

    March 18, 2013 12:06 AM

    BB did post not to worry about Papelbon. I’m still waiting for the don’t worry about Doc post, but that may not happen until he gets his lethargic and stomach virus issues under control.

  10. Chris

    March 18, 2013 12:16 AM

    Agreed.^ I’ve been a crashburnalley reader for a long time, since when it was just Bill. I never remember it being so negative, and it seems like Bill is even a prime offender. I’m really psyched for the Phillies season to start, and I read a lot of Phils content daily. Crashburn is starting to go from my favorite to middle of the pack mainly due to the negativity. Fans don’t want to constantly read how our team is old and screwed a month before the season even starts. We get it: Rube hasn’t made all of the best moves. Can’t we find some positives to get excited about though? We’re here bc we LIKE the Phillies.

  11. Chris

    March 18, 2013 12:22 AM

    Then again, when I posted and saw the ‘your comment is awaiting moderation’ notice, I realized its your blog, be as negative as you want guys. It will also be my choice to keep reading or not. Go Phillies.

  12. Chris

    March 18, 2013 12:28 AM

    Ok, one more: in the site’s ‘about’ section, it states ‘Most of the posts found at Crashburn Alley are riddled with statistics and charts in the quest for objectivity.’ So they’re not being negative, just objective. So, objectively speaking: MY had a strong defensive day today vs. the Yankees, and has been working hard in hopes to improve his defense this season.

  13. Scott G

    March 18, 2013 05:32 AM

    Soooooooo did he not work hard in previous seasons to improve his defense? It’s hard to have it both ways. He’s undoubtedly tried to improve his skills before, and no one should be expecting THAT much from him this season at third. The alternative is that he’s never tried to get better before.

  14. jake

    March 18, 2013 06:27 AM

    Objectivity is often negative. Same with honesty. However, this horse has been beaten. MY is not a great defensive 3B.

    But as Bob said, MY’s defense isn’t in the top 20 reasons why this team will or will not win 90+ games.

    Oh and should we pull up the GIFs of Chase throwing the ball into the ground from second in the 2009 playoffs? I’d bet you can find gifs of just about ANY gold-glover (or top UZR rated defender) looking foolish.

  15. Joecatz

    March 18, 2013 07:54 AM

    I think one thing to keep in mind here bill is that for the first time in 3 years Young is able to focus on ONE position. There’s something to that, on terms of not having to split his focus between 4 positions.

    You play 3b different than other IF positions. You have to work at getting a lower base to the ball etc… I’ve watched every game this spring and Michael youngs approach in the field is different. He looks good. Will he be an above average defender? Probably not. But maybe instead of constantly bashing the guy we should give him the benefit of the doubt for busting his ass right now.

    He’s also working with two of the best defensive infielders of all time every day. I don’t see a butcher out there right now. I see a guy who’s focused.

  16. joecatz

    March 18, 2013 08:15 AM

    look, Young is never going to be Chase Headley or Evan Longoria at 3B, but in the two full seasons when he played there exclusively (2009, 2010) he was better defensively than Aramis Ramirez and David Wright.

    take out last season, and compare 2009 to 2011? 9.6 fWAR for Michael Young, and 9.4 for Wright.

    Michael Young was a more valueable 3B over those three years that David Wright.

    offensively AND defensively.

    he had a career worst year last year, at the plate.

    If he puts up 2-3 war at 3B I’ll be tickled pink, and I could care less if he’s sub par in the field or average. You should feel the same way.

  17. joecatz

    March 18, 2013 08:55 AM

    maybe, but there comes a point where too much poking is construed as something else.

    just kind of taking the opposite devils advocate here. Partly because I just don’t see the Young signing, or him playing as it went down as much as a bad deal based on both what we gave up (not much) the terms (one year stopgap) and the alternatives.

  18. LTG

    March 18, 2013 11:19 AM

    So, the David Wright comparison is a bit deceptive. 1) In 2011 David Wright’s career looked like it was falling apart, given his ceiling. 2) DW had 9.5 fWAR to MY’s 9.4 fWAR and had ~250 fewer PAs than MY. 3) DW is much younger than MY, which changes the expectations for how they will play after that span. 4) 2011 MY was not really a full-time 3B. 5) DW grades out as awful on defense in those years, but otherwise looks good, including last year. MY has always graded out as awful.

    MY might be a league average 3B this year because he has a good BABIP year. But it won’t be because he suddenly learns how to move laterally and catch a grounder at the same time.

  19. Joecatz

    March 18, 2013 07:14 PM

    David Wright was a -10 UZR 3B for three straight seasons then he suddenly turned into a +15 fielder last year.

    Young was -7.6 in 2009, -5.4 in 2010 and -1.9 in 2011.

    He’s never graded out as awful as David wright did three years in a row and people would have been cheering from the rafters if Ruben traded for wright in 2009.

    The POINT here is that fielding statistics are about as reliable as delmon young saying n to a cheeseburger. Ad anyone who looks at youngs fielding statistics over that period and sees anything but a guy who got BETTER at 3B and then regressed last year due to injury isn’t seeing the forest for the trees.

    Michael young is mocked at because its cool to mock him at him as a reflection f ruben amaros ignorance in using advanced statistics. Plain and simple. Unfortunately it’s just not as bad as it seems. Sorry.

  20. joecatz

    March 18, 2013 07:25 PM

    your missing the point. Wright put up three consecutive -10 UZR seasons in a row and then magically turned in a 15 last season.

    In those same years, Young went -7.6, -5,4, -1.9. So basically he got BETTER EVERY YEAR.

    I know its cool to bash Michael Young because its kinda like bashing Ruben for not being sabersmart, but how can you in one breath say Wright got magically better and Young won’t based on the statistics that don’t show that?

    And as far as positive UZR 3B those years? aside from Evan Longoria , Beltre and Ryan Zimmerman you have the following names:

    Casey Blake, Pedro Feliz, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Brandon Inge, Andy LaRoche, Scott Rolen, Melvin Mora, Placido Polanco Alberto Callaspo.

    Theres a top tier and then you get hitters or fielders.

    Point here is maybe we should give the guy the benefit of the doubt and let him prove he sucks before we just make assumptions. cause I don’t see where you can show that he didn’t improve year over year and can’t get better cause he’s old.

  21. LTG

    March 18, 2013 07:31 PM

    1) Wright had a previous track record of good defense. That is relevant when weighing the possibilities for Young. The advanced stats aren’t great. But that sample sizes are big enough now. Young has never shown that he is capable of league average defense. Wright has. So, Wright’s return to positive is much more believable than Young’s potential to do so, although we probably shouldn’t believe Wright is as good as +15.

    2) Didn’t I say he has the potential to be league average, if his BABIP is high? Where did I assume he is going to suck?

    3) This article is about his defense. You are going off-topic.

  22. Bill Baer

    March 18, 2013 07:59 PM

    I don’t mock Young because it’s cool to do so. I mock Young because I like jokes and making jokes about millionaires, who are better at life in every conceivable way than I am, is fun.

  23. Dave

    March 18, 2013 09:49 PM

    Kind of ironic that sabr people like SSS .gifs so much, no? Also, that second one clearly took a bad hop!

  24. Scott G

    March 19, 2013 06:48 AM

    Jeez. I think the important takeaway from the 2nd gif is that he’s positioned ON THE FOUL LINE. That is absolutely horrendous. If he does that while on the Phillies, my head will actually explode.

  25. Joecatz

    March 19, 2013 07:31 AM

    Wrights UZR

    -5.4 2005 -6.2 2006 6.1 2007 5.2 2008 -10++ 2009-2011

    +15 2012.

    He went from bad, to worse to good to not as good to horrible for three years to awesome. Statistically I see regression, improvement, deep regression, unexplainable improvement.

    Young as a 3B: if you look at the statistics show bad, better, almost average pretty bad but probably hurt.

    My point here is how can anyone with a knowledge of advanced statistics say anything other than 2012 is an outlier for wright until he repeats?

    And how can you see anything other than Michael youngs defense actually improved over time at 3B and he could be league average if he works at it?

    We assume he’s gonna suck. Cause he’s Michael young. There’s name bias here.

  26. Joecatz

    March 19, 2013 07:34 AM

    And ill clarify one more point. Just like I don’t believe wright is an elite defender I don’t believe Michael young can be one either.

    BUT, he CAN be, for one season, a league average or slightly above average defender. That’s wholly possible and best case scenario but plausible for sure.

  27. LTG

    March 19, 2013 07:46 AM

    The narrative you are creating out of the defensive metrics looks forced. Wright, for his career, is a -12.7 UZR, -16 DRS guy. That’s a lot of innings and not a huge negative value. He’s probably about a league average defender.

    Michael Young, with many fewer innings, is -19.8 UZR, -35 DRS guy at 3B. His track record is below average at every position for almost every season (except an early one at 2B and one barely average season at SS). By themselves, the metrics suggest that he is less likely than Wright to put up an above average defensive season. (Also, you’ll give Young a pass for an injury but not Wright in 2011?)

    But the advanced metrics are not really the only support here. Those who watch Young play consistently see that he doesn’t move well laterally. He’s 36 (Wright, of course, is 30). He is not going to move better suddenly. We should just hope that Rollins makes up for what Young can’t do. That is Young’s best chance at being an above average 3B.

  28. Bill Baer

    March 19, 2013 07:55 AM

    Also, we don’t really know the interaction between third basemen and shortstops when the shortstop is elite. David Wright’s first great defensive season by UZR was also the first without Jose Reyes to his left. Reyes likely got to some balls that were both out of Wright’s zone but that Wright could have also made plays on, artificially depressing his UZR.

    This is one of several reasons why UZR should be taken with a gigantic grain of salt.

  29. Joecatz

    March 19, 2013 08:19 AM

    That’s a great point bill.

    And I guess when you total or up like that you can certainly see a different angle. But my point here isn’t that young is great. It’s that he showed improvement. Wrights lopsided. 2012 severely skews his overall numbers there. That’s all.

    I still can’t see how anyone though can say with certainty that young can’t be league average.

  30. Bill Baer

    March 19, 2013 08:23 AM

    There is a possibility he will be league average defensively, just like there is a possibility that Ryan Howard hits 50 home runs. While neither is very probable overall, the probability is still non-zero.

    Young could get a very easy distribution of batted balls, UZR could be dumb in a one-year sample as it is wont to do, etc.

    UZR and other defensive metrics don’t reflect skill and skill alone. It also reflects the pitchers’ abilities (e.g. Lannan’s propensity for ground balls), the skill of adjacent fielders, park factors (e.g. foul territory), environmental factors, etc.

  31. Bad News Boars

    March 20, 2013 11:46 AM

    Bill,

    If I inserted a video of Mike Trout striking out on a hanging curve ball, you’d say so what, everyone does that occasionally.

    And yet you seem to thinks that is a convincing argument against Michael Young’s defense.

  32. Joecatz

    March 20, 2013 01:14 PM

    Here’s the last ill say on this.

    I will have PHAITH and HOPE that Michael young can be average defensively and provide the kind of offense he did in 2011 this year until he proves otherwise.

    I will believe that this is Dm Browns year, that utley will stay healthy, that Halladay isn’t broken and that Howard will move a little closer to the plate and hit lefties better until they prove otherwise.

    I vow not to give two craps about delmon young or yuniesky betancourt.

    And if they suck in June ill continue to believe when they run like ey did in September again.

    But I’ll enjoy it.

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