New York Mets: Three Ways Chris Young Can Bounce Back
To say that Chris Young has been a disappointment with the New York Mets would be a colossal understatement. But the Mets must squeeze every remaining pulp of production he has out of him.
Young signed a one-year, $7.25 million deal with the Mets last offseason and has not had one good month. He hit .205 in April and .198 in May. Last month, he slogged through two four-game hitless stretches and one period of five games without a hit. Young is in the midst of an uninspiring June.
As a .233 career hitter, the low batting average should not come as a surprise to anyone. The former All-Star is posting a .195/.279/.308 slash line with just four home runs and 16 runs batted in on the year. Young is on par to match his 2013 seasonal output with the Oakland Athletics, when he hit .200 with 12 home runs and 40 RBI—or perhaps he will finish even worse.
According to Matthew Cerrone of MetsBlog, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson’s expectations for Young were low to begin with; Alderson thought he would provide power to the lineup and hit around .240.
Instead, Young gets bombarded with boos at home. On June 14, he struck out four times against the San Diego Padres and the crowd did not hold back its disapproval, as their disdain for him was stronger than their enthusiasm for David Wright.
A strong first-half performance could have made him trade bait, but now he is dead weight. Nevertheless, here are a few ways that Young can revive his career and actually help the Mets somehow in 2014.
Attack Early in the Count
The only successful counts for Young (at least 10 at-bats) are when he has swung at the first pitch (.278), 0-1 counts (.333), 1-0 counts (.333) and 1-1 counts (.300). Young is hitting a brutal .094 in his 32 at-bats with a 1-2 count. Only Curtis Granderson, Travis d’Arnaud and Anthony Recker have lower batting averages in that situation.
Young is pathetic in most pitch counts, even hitting .200 or below during favorable 3-1 and 3-2 counts. He needs to attack early on before he falls behind and ends up recording an out.
There is only a scant amount of red in Young’s hot zone, per ESPN.com. Aside from pitches down the middle, he is lukewarm or frigid everywhere else. His zone heats up on pitches down middle or ones that are down and away when he is ahead in the count, but Young is rarely in a favorable count.
Young has a long swing, but he would help the team more by hitting singles and doubles. Exploiting the gaps at the cavernous Citi Field is a better recipe for success than constantly aiming for the distant fences.
Exercise Plate Discipline
Demonstrating patience seems to contradict being aggressive early in pitch counts, but he needs to learn to balance the two approaches depending on the situation.
What is alarming is that he only has a combined eight at-bats that have featured 2-0 and 2-1 counts. He lacks the plate discipline to draw many walks and have long plate appearances
Per FanGraphs, Young’s swing percentage at pitches inside the strike zone is 66.7 percent, a career high. His 45.7 percent swing rate at total pitches is also a career peak.
Young’s contact seldom results in base hits, though. The numbers suggest that he is swinging at a lot of garbage as well as missing fat pitches.
Less Days of Futility
Most Mets fans are surprised when Young shows any sign of life. On June 18, Young did absolutely nothing productive at the plate, going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.
Young chased a pitch far outside the plate during that same game to strikeout in his first at-bat against the St. Louis Cardinals. He lunged well beyond the strike zone, sending a message to opposing pitchers that they do not need to throw him strikes to record outs.
Later in the game, he killed a two-run rally in the sixth inning. With runners on first and second base and two outs, Young took a big cut at a high 1-1 pitch. And then he went down swinging. If Young had been more selective, he could have gotten a better pitch to hit.
In Young’s last at-bat of the game, he fell behind 0-2 on two pitches and popped up the third pitch.
Young is not giving manager Terry Collins any reason to put him in the lineup. These days, Young is not an everyday player. Unless he can show the Mets a pulse, there are many games on the pine in Young’s future.
Unless otherwise noted, all stats courtesy of ESPN.com.