Rounding Third: Michael Young: A poor man's Derek Jeter

1:58 PM, Jan 31, 2014   |    comments
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Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - It's a foregone conclusion that New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter will call Cooperstown his home five years after the day he steps away from baseball.

But you don't hear the same thing when you mention longtime Texas Rangers infielder Michael Young.

And I'm not exactly sure why.

Young is slated to announce his retirement on Friday after a terrific career that saw him compile a .300 average with 2,375 hits, 185 home runs, 441 doubles and 1,030 RBI over 1,970 major-league appearances, spanning 13 full seasons, and two games in 2000.

He also led all of baseball with 221 hits in 2005 -- the same year he led the AL with a .331 average -- and compiled 213 hits in 2011 to lead the majors once more.

A seven-time American League All-Star, Young is the all-time leader in games played (1,823), hits (2,230), doubles (415), triples (55) and runs (1,085) for the Rangers, with whom he spent 12 seasons.

"Michael is a leader, and he demonstrated those skills every day of the season, year in and year out," said a statement from the Rangers. "We are proud to say that Michael Young is this franchises all-time leader in games, at- bats, runs, hits, doubles, triples, and total bases. He excelled at multiple positions and came through in the clutch.

"When Texas advanced to postseason play in 2010 after an 11-year drought, teammates and fans everywhere were especially happy that Michael had reached the playoffs. And he was an integral performer in those Rangers back-to-back World Series runs."

His six 200-hit seasons are tied for second-most in the majors since 2000, trailing only Ichiro Suzuki and matching Jeter. Even more impressive is the fact Young's league-leading hit total in 2011 was one of only seven 200-hit seasons in the majors over the last three seasons.

Sure his numbers aren't mind-numbing for his era, one in which numbers were vastly exaggerated and overrated thanks to performance-enhancing drugs.

In case you were wondering, Jeter hit .308 from 2001-13 and had 2,308 hits, 372 doubles, 178 home runs, 847 RBI and 1,271 runs scored. Also, Jeter, whose power numbers started to drastically decline after 2004, has just one more home run per 162-game season than Young.

Jeter has 3,000 hits and was the leader of the more storied teams in all of sports. I get the hullabaloo when it comes to him. He's been crammed down our throats enough we all think he is great. And he is great. A tad overrated, but, yes, he is a guaranteed lock Hall of Famer. In fact, I told people a few weeks back that I think he'll probably be the one to challenge Tom Seaver's Hall of Fame vote record.

So if Jeter is such a sure-fire first balloter, why isn't Young even in the conversation? The numbers don't lie. Would we look at Young any differently had be been the one playing shortstop for the Yankees?

Or had he played his entire career in the 1980s?

People always like to tell you about Jeter's intangibles. Well, how can you do that without talking about Young, one of the true leaders in the game. How many times did he offer to switch positions for the good of the Rangers? Toward the end, there was some dissension sure, but that had more to do with the fact the Rangers just started to take him for granted.

Oddly enough, the main knock on Young, like Jeter, is his defense. But, again like Jeter, if you watch enough of him, you know he makes every play he needs to. There are no stats more overrated than advanced defensive statistics.

Look, if you want to knock Michael Young and tell me the only thing that made him a great player was the ability to consistently hit for a high average, that's fine.

But then you must not think much of Derek Jeter, either.

SUPER BOWL PREDICTION

Since we are on the cusp of the Super Bowl, I guess I have to make a prediction. It seems to be Peyton Manning's year, so I will pick Denver 28, Seattle 24. Manning will be the MVP.

I do find it funny that for all the talk about the Super Bowl being played in the cold, that the temperature on Sunday will be about as good as it's been for sometime in the Northeast.

The Sports Network

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