Mets Season in Review: Eric Young, Jr.


Today’s season in review (the final one in our series) focuses on Eric Young, Jr.  To check out all of the reviews we published over the last month and change, head here.

Prior to the doubleheader the day the Mets traded Collin McHugh for Eric Young, Jr., the Mets were 25-40, and clearly in need of a spark. That day, both Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler beat the Atlanta Braves, and EYJ was in the lineup the next game. We quickly learned that the Piscataway, NJ, native was not only happy to be a Met, but likely fulfilling a dream of his dad’s, which never came to fruition for the senior EY. Though in the end, the Mets only made up 1 game on their record from before the trade, it was clear throughout the 2nd half that Eric Young, Jr. provided the Mets an energy they had been looking for.

How He Handled the Bat:

Sep 12, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets left fielder Eric Young Jr. (22) runs to second base during the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Young, Jr. was hitting .242 for the Colorado Rockies, with a measly .292 OBP, when he was designated for assignment on June 12. It only took the two teams 6 days to come together on the trade. To make room for Young on the roster, the Mets designated Collin Cowgill for assignment, who was originally supposed to bring a spark to the Mets but never took off after his Grand Slam of an Opening Day. Excited by the chance to play near his hometown friends and family, EYJ took off, raising his batting average to .268 by June 26, upping his OBP to .317. He steadied off after that, but went on another tear to bring his batting average back to the .268 mark by July 14, as well as his OBP all the way to .327. When the man got on base, it was the most dynamic any Met had been out there since Jose Reyes, something the team and us fans had been craving.

Though his was exciting to watch through the end of the season, his offensive tear tailed off, and he finished the year with an overall .249 batting average and a .310 OBP, though he took the stolen base title with 46 swipes, 38 of which came with the Mets. Solely looking at his Orange and Blue numbers, EYJ hit .252 with a .318 OBP, with 1 home run and 26 RBI, getting caught on the base paths only 7 times.

Yeah, he’s got no power…but here’s the 1 home run he DID hit.

He also had an unfortunate accident with Tim Hudson where he stepped on the pitcher at the bag, ending Tim’s season. I’m not going to show it because it’s gruesome, but it is of course on Youtube (if you care), and Young was torn up over the play.

Actually, there’s a clip without the actual injury and just Eric giving his best to Tim.

How He Handled the Glove:

The Mets and their fans were clearly in need of better defense in left field, and Eric Young, Jr. provided it by a wide margin over Lucas Duda. He speed was obviously better, his range was clearly better, and generally, when he dove for a ball, he got it (unlike The Duda, who kept inducing from me a “STOP DIVING AND GET IN FRONT OF THE BALL! YOU’RE NOT GONNA GET IT!”)

Site Editor Danny Abriano, however, when discussing the arbitration-eligible players on a podcast, made this observation about Eric Young, Jr.’s defense:

"Some people think (his defense) is good because he’s making diving catches…he’s diving left, he’s diving right…that’s because he’s not getting good breaks on balls, he’s not getting good jumps, and his arm is very, very poor.”"

That’s a very good point, Danny.

I’m still gonna embed some catches, though…

This first one’s real funny because of Keith (we say that a lot, don’t we?)

The below clip was the one I was looking for, and it includes his baserunning prowess as well as his defensive save, clearly pumped up that night taking on his former team.

Projected Role in 2014:

Honestly, Eric Young, Jr. provides a lot of energy to this team, but after so many years of being at most a .250 hitter with a low OBP, his best role will be as a 4th outfielder. He should be coming off the bench to provide a spark and collecting 400 or so ABs playing all over the outfield and occasionally in the infield, primarily at 2nd base. This is my opinion, and I project it’s the opinion of the Mets front office as well.

So, uh…yeah. I project his role to be a spark off the bench.

It should also count for something that he wants to be a Met, and is passionate about the Metropolitan franchise. It shouldn’t count for everything, obviously talent should come first, but it’s still nice.

Contract Status and Trade Rumors:

Eric Young, Jr. is arbitration-eligible for the first time in his career, most likely getting a bump to $1.9 million. Also, he will not be a free agent until 2017. The Mets are most likely to tender him this contract, and he hasn’t been involved in any trade rumors, so far. That will probably stay that way with the above projection of him as the Mets 4th outfielder, but we’ll see how the offseason plays out.

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