Why Michael Young Is the Greatest Texas Ranger Ever
Little did the Texas Rangers know that a July trade in 2000 would gain them their all-time leader in hits, plate appearances, doubles, triples and soon-to-be games played. On Tuesday Michael Young will supplant Rafael Palmeiro as the leader on this list when the Rangers take on the New York Yankees.
When he decides to call it quits, he will undoubtedly be considered the greatest Ranger to ever play the game. Sure Ivan Rodriguez and Alex Rodriguez are first-ballot Hall of Famers and Nolan Ryan is possibly the most famous name in the great history of Texas sports.
But what Young has done for Texas baseball is not even close to being matched.
In an era where big egos and performance enhancers have dominated headlines and an "all about me" society is providing us with players who lack humility—like Bryce Harper—Young is an unselfish star.
He was to be the shortstop of the future when the trade was made, but then the Rangers signed Alex Rodriguez to an absurd contract. Everyone thought that Rodriguez would be the guy to lead the Rangers for the next 10 years, not the guy that was forced to change positions to accommodate him. Young, wanting to make the big league club, transitioned back to the position he played in the Toronto system with little to no resistance.
In 2003 he was among the league leaders in hits and runs scored while batting .306 with 14 home runs and 13 stolen bases. Young had become one of the best young second basemen in the game, but soon everything would be turned upside down.
After becoming entrenched as the starter at second, the Rangers traded Rodriguez to the Yankees for Alfonso Soriano. Soriano, by the way, played second. So Young packed up and moved positions again with no complaint.
At shortstop he flourished. He was an All-Star every year at short and was even the MVP of the 2006 Midsummer Classic. He collected 200 hits every year but one, becoming the 2005 American League batting champion and earned his only Gold Glove of his career in 2008.
But the trade of Mark Teixeira in 2007 to the Atlanta Braves would put a ticking clock on his shortstop days. The Rangers acquired, among others, a young Venezuelan shortstop by the name of Elvis Andrus who was being compared to Jose Reyes. It was just a matter of time before there would be a debate.
After his Gold Glove season, Rangers brass approached Young about a move to third to make room for Andrus. Young was a little resistant, and rightfully so. He was just ranked as the best defensive shortstop in the American League and now they want a 19-year-old who committed 32 errors in Double-A ball to replace him. He must have felt like he couldn't please the organization.
He eventually agreed to move to third and once again succeeded. He was once again named an All-Star and even got some votes for MVP in 2009 while bashing 22 home runs and batting .322.
Do you think any other six-time All-Star, Gold Glove winner and batting champion would change positions four times? He is the poster child for a team player and his desire to win surpasses any other thing on his agenda.
Young is a throwback to how baseball should be played. No showboating, no gloating, no cheating. He gives his all every day and rarely sits out a game—he has played in 155 games every year since 2002 except one.
He has been overshadowed his entire career. In Toronto, he was rated behind Cesar Izturis, Brent Abernathy and Felipe Lopez at the middle infield position. Early in his career he was in the shadow of Alex Rodriguez and Alfonso Soriano and now he is taking a back seat to Josh Hamilton.
Yet he never complains. He actually seems to thrive off of it. Sure there was the trade demand, but that seemed more to be an issue of the Rangers misleading him than him being selfish.
He has spent his entire career on a team that continually finishes out of first place and when the Rangers made the playoffs for the first time since 1999 this past season, no one seemed more happy than Young.
If you got credit for being a team player, Young would be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. If there is any question about if he is the best Ranger ever, just look at his place in the team record books.
On Tuesday he will once again be overshadowed, this time by Derek Jeter's quest for 3,000 hits. I doubt he would want it any other way.
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