Last November, Sandy Alderson signed outfielder Chris Young to a one-year, $7.25 million contract. Coming off a bad year with Oakland (.200 12HR 40 RBI), many derided the acquisition. Young injured his quad during the second game of the season, went on the DL, and the critics came out even more loudly. However, Young has begun to put his game together for the Mets, giving the team exactly what it had hoped to see.
Apr 27, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets left fielder Chris Young (1) hits a two-run home run against the Miami Marlins during the fifth inning of a game at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
In the recently completed series with Colorado, Young went 7 for 16 (.437) with 3 RBI. On the season (16 games for Young), he’s batting .273 with 2 home runs, 9 RBI, and 3 stolen bases. Young has played solid defense as well. Young was (and to a degree still is) a gamble. While his 2013 was very forgettable, he has put up some decent years, notably 2010 with Arizona, when he hit .257 with 27 home runs and 91 RBI. The Mets will gladly accept those numbers in 2014.
One of the best attributes that Chris Young brings to the Mets is his versatility, both offensively and defensively. Young can hit in run-producing spots in the order with the power he brings to the table. He can also hit leadoff if necessary (though his career OBP of .315 is not ideal), as he would bring speed to that slot in the lineup. On defense, Young profiles as strong outfielder (career UZR of 17.3), capable of playing all three outfield positions.
Going forward, the Mets will need Young to continue to produce, and even step up his offensive game. The Mets’ struggles with scoring runs are well documented. Going into the season, the middle of the order was projected to be David Wright, Curtis Granderson, and Chris Young. So far, Granderson is off to a slow start (though he has been better of late), and Wright has hit for a good average (.272) but limited power (1 home run). Young’s production (scaled for the time he missed due to injury) has been probably the closest to expectations.
The signing of Chris Young, by the cash-strapped Mets, raised some eyebrows during the off-season. If he continues along his current trajectory, his productivity may similarly raise eyebrows at the end of the season.