With a pair of hits Sunday night, Michael Young notched 2,000 hits for his career—all as a Texas Ranger. A standing ovation ensued, which led to a tip of the hat from Young to acknowledge this Texas faithful that has stood by him over the years.
To think, just six months ago the prospect of Michael Young getting that hit was in jeopardy.
Back in February, Michael Young verbally requested a trade after he said he was "misled" by management about his role on the team.
The Rangers went out and got Adrian Beltre off the free agent market to him their starting third baseman. The problem here is that Michael Young, one of the all-time fan favorites in Texas, had just moved over to third two seasons prior. Young agreed to be the designated hitter when Beltre was signed, but soon after Young became infuriated with Rangers brass and requested that he be shipped out of Texas.
Six months later and here we are; Young is still a Texas Ranger and he just reached the 2,000-hit plateau. Young has put together a remarkable career in the red and blue and made his case for the Hall of Fame. Don't think he's deserving? He's the third-fastest right-handed batter ever to reach the 2,000-hit mark.
In case you are wondering, that's faster than the man who reached the 3,000-mark earlier this season in the Bronx. If Young was playing for the Yankees or Red Sox, the Hall of Fame would not even be a question.
It's hard to imagine where Texas would be without him this year, but it's almost a given they would not be in first place.
If Michael Young had been traded this offseason, fans in Arlington, Texas would have rioted. You thought Vancouver was bad after the Canucks lost the Stanley Cup? You haven't seen anything until you take away the heart and soul of your World Series runner-up.
If you're a Rangers fan, try to picture this: Michael Young tipping his hat to the Colorado Rockies fans after getting his 2,000th hit.
It's hard to think about, but it came very close to happening in February. You would have been happy for him, but most of you would wish that he was back playing third base for your Rangers. It would have been a lot like Ivan Rodriguez winning a World Series title as a Florida Marlin. You're happy for possibly the most loved Ranger in history, but it's mainly bittersweet.
Or try to imagine walking into the gift shop at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and seeing Michael Young t-shirts on sale at 75 percent off. It almost happened, but luckily the Rockies could not sway Jon Daniels into unloading his unhappy star.
Young's professionalism is much needed on a team that gave the sporting world the term "claw and antlers." Don't get me wrong, having fun is a big part of this game and is much needed. However, you need that one guy that just goes out there and plays his heart out because it is his job. That guy is Young, who rarely participated in the "claw and antler" routine.
This is why Young wanted to be traded before Spring Training. He did not want to be a distraction. Although he did not get the change of scenery he wanted, he sucked it up and played ball. He is everything you want in a teammate—talented, unselfish, hardworking and has the desire to get better.
If you are good enough, you will start to develop expectations every time you step on the field of play.
Cris Carter catches touchdowns.
Robert Horry hits buzzer-beating shots.
And Michael Young hits the ball into the gap in right-center.
Despite playing a position that he does not want to play, Michael Young is still the same ball player. With a .334 batting average, he ranks third in the Major Leagues in batting. He also has 33 doubles, which means he has now hit 33 or more doubles in every season since 2003. All Michael Young does is go out and get hits. Question his defense all you want; you can not question his prowess with a bat.
In a year in which the Rangers offense has been good but inconsistent, Michael Young is one of the few guys in the order you can count on to give you a good at-bat nearly every time.
Michael Young, along with getting his 2,000th hit, became the team's all-time leader in game's played as he passed Rafael Palmeiro earlier in the season. This makes him the franchise leader in games played, hits, doubles, triples and plate appearances.
There's no better place for Michael Young to get No. 2000 than Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and after all that led up this point, getting this milestone as a member of the Texas Rangers is a blessing for both the Rangers and for Young.
Michael Young has batted at just about every spot in the Rangers lineup over the years, but the one he has most frequented this season is the most unusual. With injuries to Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz early in the season, Michael Young was called upon to hit clean-up.
In 44 games hitting fourth, Young owns .315 batting average with three home runs and eight doubles. Although not the stereotypical power guy, Young has more than exceeded what was asked of him in his time of batting clean-up. His consistent hitting has kept many innings alive, as Young uses a nice contact approach rather than a swing-for-the-fences mentality.
When Adrian Beltre was signed, Michael Young was relegated to being the Rangers' designated hitter. However, an interesting idea was to make him a super-utility guy due to his experience at second and third base as well as shortstop. They decided to work him out at first base in Spring Training just to make him a little more super.
Michael Young still fancies himself a better all-around player when he is in the field, and the stats might prove him right.
In 61 games as a designated hitter, Young is hitting a more than respectful .305.
In 51 games playing the field, Young is hitting a whopping .369.
Young's versatility in the field has given Ron Washington the luxury of giving players days off without losing that pop in the middle of the order. Young has played first, second and third base when he has not been manning the designated hitter role. All he needs is a game at shortstop, a place he owns a Gold Glove at, to complete the trip around the infield. Well, minus behind the plate.
The fact that Michael Young got the two hits necessary to eclipse the 2,000 mark Sunday night is not surprising. However, the way he got them might be. With two almost identical softly hit infield dribblers, the Rangers' all-time leader in hits became the newest member of the 2K club.
It wasn't a home run or a walk-off double to win the game. Rather, two slow-rolling balls to third base that forced Young to hustle to make sure he was safe. It's something that Rangers fans have been spoiled with over the years—the face of the franchise playing as if every game might be his last.
After watching Vladimir Guerrero give a short stop time to make a sandwich before making the throw to first retire the lazy slugger, Young is a breath of fresh air. Only he has been doing it since 2001.
Michael Young is the the leader in the clubhouse; there's no doubting that.
How he leads is what makes him special, though. He doesn't yell at players and tell them to do their job; he simply goes out and does what he is paid to do every single day. He doesn't complain and he doesn't jog down to first base.
He leads by example and his teammates notice.
Elvis Andrus, during a postgame interview with Fox Sports Southwest's Ric Renner last night, said, "It's just a pleasure for me to see him play and his work ethic and being able to learn from him."
There's no other player you want your young, talented shortstop to model his game after than Michael Young. Just his presence in the clubhouse is blessing enough.
Even on a night in which he breaks a huge milestone, the first thing Young talks about in postgame interviews is how the game turned out. On this particular night it saw the Rangers come from behind to win a very meaningful game in August amidst a tight division race.
When he finally does talk about the 2,000th hit, he says, "It's special because it came in a win."
That's the guy you want leading your team. If I'm looking for a guy to be the face of my franchise, there's not many better candidates than Michael Young.
He is completely selfless as evidenced by his move from second base to short stop, short stop to second base, back to short stop again, to third base and now to designated hitter and super-utility infielder. He does whatever he needs to do to help the team win. Milestones are important, but what he wants more than anything is that World Series ring.
The greatest way Michael Young staying put is a blessing is simple: Michael Young is still a Ranger.
Simple as that.
He is what makes this team go. When they are in a rut, Michael Young is the first player to tell a reporter, "We just have to play better." He really is the heart and soul of the team and it should be no surprise that after Young broke the 2K mark, the Rangers were able to thrive off the excitement in the stadium and rally for five runs to win.
If there was ever a Texas Rangers player whose number was sure to be retired at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington when he decides to hang up the spikes, it would be Young. It's hard to imagine someone being more adored by Texas fans than Ivan Rodriguez, but the standing ovation Young received shows just who the new fan favorite is in the Lone Star State.