Sandy Alderson needed to address the outfield first and foremost going into last offseason. His first acquisition was Chris Young, who cost $7.25 million dollars for one year, and came over as a player that has built a reputation of being often injured and underachieving on the field.
Mar 15, 2014; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; New York Mets center fielder Chris Young (1) connects for a solo home run during a game against the Minnesota Twins at Tradition Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
There seems to be a log jam in the outfield, with Eric Young Jr., Curtis Granderson, Andrew Brown, and defensive wizard Juan Lagares (expected to come back from a hamstring injury before the end of the month), and the opportunity could be slim for Young.
He should get plenty of playing time based on his salary. Some pressure is on manager Terry Collins to find the right role for Young and the entire outfield as far as their playing time and spots in the lineup.
Chris Young, a career .235 hitter, batted an even .200 with 12 home runs and 40 runs driven in in 107 games in 2013. The 30-year-old outfielder is known for his speed, above average defense and pop in his bat.
Though Young stole 27 bases his rookie year in 2007, and wailed 32 over the fence, he’s never matched those totals since. In that same year, his batting average was still only .237 with 141 strike outs.
If the Mets are hoping that they get the 2007 form of Young, their prayers could sadly fall on deaf ears. The year after his rookie campaign, Young struck out 165 times, and has never struck out at or less than league average when he’s had at least 500 at bats (in 2009, Young fanned 133 times in 433 at bats).
There’s this chance, and hope, that this is the year Chris Young comes into his own and emerges as one of the best all-around outfielders in the division.
At 30 years old, Young is in his prime, and is still on track to have basically his first full season since 2011.
Young suffered an unfortunate injury in 2012 playing for the Arizona Diamondbacks, running into the outfield wall at a time where he’d gotten off to one of his hottest starts. From Opening day until April 17th when he was injured, Young was batting .410 with five homers and 13 driven in over 39 at bats. Though this was only the first eleven games of the season, Young managed to only strike out five times and doubled five times as well. It was certainly a shame for a player to lose the momentum of the hottest start of his career.
After a down year in 2013, it’s entirely possible that Chris Young puts together a solid 2014, making Sandy Alderson look smart in the process.