Each week during the off-season, I will be selecting a random, former Met to highlight. This will be taking place of our usual Friday segment, Rising Apple Player of the Week, until the regular season starts back up in April. If you have a former Met that you’d like me to highlight, please contact me at [email protected] and title your email: Rising Apple Off-Season Player of the Week suggestion.
Anthony Young pitched for six years in the Major Leagues, spending most of his time with the Mets, but also putting on a jersey for the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros before he hung up his cleats in 1996. I think he gets a bad rap because of the dubious record he holds; from May 6, 1992 to July 24, 1993, Young lost 27 consecutive decisions, which broke Cliff Curtis‘ MLB record of 23 consecutive starts, which he did back in 1910-11. I remember hearing about Young when I was a kid, listening to the stories about that awful record he set and I used to think, “Man, this guy must have been terrible! Why would the Mets ever let him continue to pitch that long?” Well, I was wrong, he wasn’t all that bad; he had his good days and his bad days during this streak, but he didn’t have much luck, either.
Young was born and raised in Houston, Texas, attending Furr High School and then the University of Houston before being picked in the 38th round by the Mets in the 1987 amateur draft. He made his debut against the Cubs on August 5th, 1991, and it was a successful one. He pitched 2.1 innings behind the rough start of Pete Schourek, allowing 1 run on 2 hits, 1 walk, and 2 strikeouts. He put together a respectable season for a bad Mets team (77-84 in ’91), as we appeared in 10 games (8 starts), putting together a 2-5 record, 3.10 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 20 strikeouts in 49.1 innings pitched. It was, of course, ’92 and ’93 that were likely the two toughest years of his life, as he went a combined 3-30, yet posted a respectable 3.97 ERA.
It was tough being a Mets fan in the early ’90s, and unfortunately for Young, he dealt with the brunt of it (72-90 in ’92, 59-103 in ’93). During his record-setting losing streak, he was incredibly productive for the Mets, as he filled in admirably for the injured John Franco. Young put together a 23.2 scoreless inning streak and converted 12 consecutive save opportunities while he was busy not getting a win for himself. Young went 0-14 as a starting pitcher and 0-13 out of the bullpen during this time. Basically, the man couldn’t catch a break, no matter what he tried.
To add insult to injury, he made 27 consecutive starts without earning a win, a streak that spanned from April 14, 1992 to May 1st, 1994. What makes me shake my head even more is that Young made 13 quality starts during that time, but his team went 4-23 in the games he started. This goes to show us that although the pitcher is one of the most important positions on the field, if there isn’t a good team around them, they take the blame.
What I think is most impressive about Anthony Young is that after those two atrocious seasons in Flushing, he still wanted to pitch!! Having that little success over a span of two years could break anyone’s spirit enough to quit, but he decided to continue pitching, which he did for three more seasons (two with the Cubs, one with his hometown Astros). Over his final three seasons in the Major Leagues, he pitched to a 4.07 ERA, while posting a 10-13 record in 186.1 innings pitched (20 starts).
His career win-loss record isn’t all that impressive, as it stands at 15-48 over his six years, but his ERA and WHIP are better determinations of the kind of pitcher he was, as he posted 3.89 and 1.39 marks, respectively. If we take away the ’92 and ’93 seasons, Young has a 12-18 record. He wasn’t exactly a dominant pitcher, but would have been a solid fifth starter on a Major League rotation.
So, here’s to you, Mr. Young. I’m sorry you’re likely misunderstood to us young Mets fans because we only look at the MLB record you set, but I truly realize it was more of a product of you being on some horrendous teams during a dark time in Mets history, not you just not pitching well. I admire your determination to continue pitching after those trying seasons, showing us the epitome of “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.”