"I gave her a little hug back, too. I was feeling the love, so I gave her a little back. It was all good."
-- Chris Young on the field invasion last night"I thought it was funny" -- Justin Upton
Unfortunately, love from Diamondbacks fans for Chris Young has been pretty rare this year. Over two months into the season, and our center-fielder is still stuck solidly below the Uecker Line. Indeed, there's a very arguable case that he is the worst hitter in baseball at the moment. Tyler from KTAR pointed out that among qualifying batter, Young is dead last in the majors in most of the offensive metrics. Coming into this afternoon's game:
BA: .177 - next worst is Colorado’s Garrett Atkins at .193
OBP: .234 - next worst is Texas’ Chris Davis at .256
OPS: .542 - next worst is San Diego’s Brian Giles at .554
And that's before you even take park factors into accounts - obviously, you would expect Giles to have a tougher go of it in Petco than Young does at Chase. When you take that into account, and measure OPS+, Chris Young is even further dead last, with an OPS+ of 38, and it's not even close. The next worst is Atkins, at 48 [why, yes - he is on my fantasy team, thank you for asking...] Chris might want to hope the Rays' Dioner Navarro gets more playing time, since his line - .197/.221/.283, a 31 OPS+ - would bail Young out of last, with a few more plate-appearances.
This has been an ongoing issue almost from Opening Day, though he was batting .238, basically in line with his career average to that point, as late as April 28. But as early as May 2nd, the Republic was reporting, "Young searching for answers to slump," in which he said:
I've been working with different stances and different hand slots lately. I had a good spring, and I kind of got away a little bit from what I was doing. I have to find whatever I can do to make myself as comfortable as I can be at the plate. Right now I'm kind of in between different things, and I'm not getting the results right now... My batting practices have been really good," he said. "So I have the feel. It's just a matter of getting that feel with the timing of the game, bringing the two together. I plan on things turning around real soon - as soon as tomorrow.
It didn't happen. May was truly a month from hell for Young, in every way. He completed what could be described as the Trifecta of Uber-Suck, with a batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage all sitting below the Uecker Line. His numbers for the month: .141 BA (10-for-71), .162 OBP (just two walks in the entire month, compared to twenty strikeouts) and a .197 SLG (no home-runs and three extra-base hits). By the 21st,, Nick Piecoro said, "Young's struggles have become so pronounced, just watching him hit has become a painful endeavor." Young still remained optimstic:
I don't feel that bad I had a tough series in Milwaukee and (Los Angeles), where I was kind of swinging out of the zone and I was trying to change a lot of things. I wasn't really seeing the ball. But since then, I feel like I've been seeing the ball and having good at-bats. I'm just fouling the balls that I need to be driving. I'm fouling them back right now... I'm not thinking about my past at-bats or where my average is at. I don't think about the game like that. I kind of forget about the past and just go out there and play, and play my game. I know that my natural ability will take over. I have to trust in that and believe in that.
Once again, any improvement has been hard to discern. In the nineteen games since,in which Young has appeared, he's hitting .197, though is at least taking some walks and has a couple of home-runs. Still, his OPS over that time is barely cracking the .600 mark. Now, obviously, Chris Young's defense is generally regarded as being a help in justifying his presence on the roster, though the massive whiff in center-field last night certainly weakens that argument.
There have been the occasional moments where it seems like he is on the verge of breaking out. Twice in the recent San Diego series, he reached base safely four times, with multi-hit, multi-walk performances. But we've seen these apparently false dawns before - even during the hell of May, Young put together a five-game hitting streak...and then went hitless for the next ten days.
So, the poll question for this week is, should Chris Young be sent to Reno until he gets things sorted out? Or should he be left to tough it out here? However, for extra credit [or what would be extra credit, were any enterprising school to offer a course in SnakePitology], you also need provide more details in the comments. If you're going to send him down, then you need to explain who replaces him and why they would be an improvement. If you're going to leave him here, then you need to say what he brings to the team.
A final point. We know Young sucks. He knows he sucks. Everyone - except, apparently, the impromptu tenth player on the park from last night - knows it. So please refrain from simply pointing that out. Thank you for your co-operation in this matter... :-)