The Phillies’ off-season was chock full of head-scratching personnel decisions. GM Ruben Amaro signed Mike Adams to a two-year contract even though he was coming off of right shoulder surgery. He signed Delmon Young and brought Yuniesky Betancourt to spring training.
Can’t wait to .gif Delmon Young 7-hopping a throw to Yuniesky Betancourt, who bobbles it, then slips on a banana peel.
— Bill Baer (@CrashburnAlley) January 29, 2013
Though not as bad as the acquisitions of Adams, Young, and Betancourt, Amaro’s decision to trade for Michael Young is up there as well. To his credit, though, the third base free agent market was barren and the options were slim. Plus, he got he Rangers to kick in $10 million towards Young’s $16 million salary. Still, Young was 36 years old and coming off of a -2.0 WAR season, tied with Joe Mather for the worst among position players.
Young was known for his ability to avoid striking out and, in his younger days, hitting for a high average. Beyond that, he didn’t offer much to the Phillies. Defensively, he had comparable range to a stature. He couldn’t run the bases very well, and his power was waning. Realistically, the Phillies would have been grateful if he could play at replacement level.
It turned out Young had a bounce-back year with the bat, but his defense was markedly worse and weighed down his value. Young hit .279, just two points better than in 2012, but his on-base percentage was 23 points better thanks to a newfound ability to draw walks. They were concentrated early in the season, as he walked 24 times in 202 trips to the plate through May (11.9%). From the start of June through the end of the season, he drew 19 walks in 363 PA (5.2%).
He was also grounding into double plays at an historic rate, which we remarked about here in May. They decreased his team’s chances of winning each individual game by six percent on average and accounted for -1.2 Win Percent Added on their own in total.
FanGraphs listed Young as the team’s worst base runner, worse even than Darin Ruf and Ryan Howard. Overall, Baseball Reference credited Young with a bounce-back year, but he was still markedly worse than replacement level at -1.1 WAR. Comparatively, Placido Polanco — who earned $2.75 million — posted a .617 OPS but still finished at replacement level. There were a number of different ways the Phillies could have solved their dilemma at third base — though none of them would have felt good — but they chose essentially the worst way and it certainly backfired.
The one good thing, though, was that GM Ruben Amaro was able to flip Young to the Los Angeles Dodgers on August 31 for a warm body in the form of lefty pitcher Rob Rasmussen, who spent the 2013 season between Double-A and Triple-A. Ideally, Amaro would have traded Young prior to the July 31 trade deadline when Young’s value was higher, but he was very hesitant to deal.
Before starting this report card project, I wrote down a D+ grade for Young. But looking back on it, his performance was predictable. That his poor performance hurt the Phillies is not his fault in the same way it is not a bat’s fault he cannot see — it’s Amaro’s fault for signing him in the first place. Plus, he provided us with entertainment with hilariously bad attempts at defense. I’ll mark Young down with a solid C.
The rest of the Crashburn crew graded Young as follows: