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2021 Arizona Diamondbacks Reviews, #31: Andrew Young

Young entered the 2021 campaign with a bang, but left the D-backs roster with a whimper...

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Arizona Diamondbacks v Seattle Mariners Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images
  • Rating: 3.78
  • Age: Turned 27 on May 10
  • 2021 Stats: 58 G, 104 PA. 6 HR, 15 RBI, .209/.298/.484 = .782 OPS (107 OPS+), -0.7 bWAR
  • 2021 Earnings: Pre-arbitration.
  • 2022 Status: Selected by Nationals in AAA portion of Rule 5 draft

In the raging dumpster fire that was the Diamondbacks 2021 season, Andrew Young gave a brief glimmer of promise in the earliest parts of the year. Specifically being that his first four hits were all HRs in his first 15 PA (albeit over the course of a calendar month), with half of them coming in a Pinch Hitting role. Looking like he could potentially be a potent weapon off of the bench, Young was rewarded with three things: a spacious chunk of pine to warm, a shorter leash than something called a “Josh Reddick”, and an extended trip to the Biggest Little City. How did such a (semi-)promising beginning culminate into a measly 17 MLB starts and 104 PA when Reddick didn’t even make his D-Backs debut until a week after Young had hit the fourth of those aforementioned HRs? We’ll look over a brief history of Young to get an idea of why Torey (a man fondly known for having too much faith in his guys) had shown precious little faith in Young.

Drafted in the 37th round of 2016 as a Senior sign out of Indiana State by the Cardinals, he was later functionally a throw-in used by St. Louis to acquire Paul Goldschmidt. Not a particularly intriguing prospect due to defensive limitations and swing-and-miss concerns, he nevertheless enjoyed a fairly swift rise through the ranks on the back of three things that he did particularly well; those three being: pulling the ball, getting those pulled balls airborne, and hitting those pulled flyballs hard.

He also was apparently the Salutatarian in the same Spherical Fashion program of which Tim Locastro became Valedictorian (seriously, those dudes wore a lot of pitches coming up), but that’s much less important than the other three factors. His ever escalating HR totals in the Minors forced Hazen’s hand in the prior iteration of a D-Backs disaster, and he acquitted himself about as reasonable as could be expected from a 37th rounder. His 2020 showing earned him another opportunity to show his stuff in the season that followed, which concludes our brief history lesson.

With context in hand for what contributed largely to his success in the Minors, we can look back at his MLB time and see that he had more difficulty getting the ball in the air than at almost any stop in the Minors and far more difficulty than even that with pulling the ball. He was still hitting the ball slightly harder than MLB average (fractionally missing a tie with Marte for the hardest hit of the season), but that was only when he was making contact. The suspected swing-and-miss issues bared their fangs with such ferocity that his borderline untenable 29.4 K% in 2020 jumped far beyond that border to an unplayable 43.3% in 2021; the strikeout issues persisting even when sent down to AAA.

The offensive peripherals were bad enough, but combined with his -10 DRS(!) in 138 innings at 2B and his failed attempts to cosplay as a 3B/LF likely torpedoed what little motivation Torey had to run Young out in any role other than a PH. Young’s offensive contributions in that role dragged his wRC+ up into a positive range, but one can’t help but think how the short leash he was given and an inability to see pitching on a consistent basis adversely affected his timing and his value added to the team.

His outlook must have completely shifted in the eyes of the Front Office, to the point that Young was outrighted off of the 40-Man roster and wasn’t even given a spot on the AAA roster. This exposed him to the AAA portion of the Rule V Draft, where he was taken by the Nationals with the 3rd pick. Andrew Young has proven coming up that his tale is one of a true underdog, and I personally wish the guy nothing but success; even if it won’t be in a D-Backs jersey.