Eric Young Jr. is a professional baserunner

Eric YoungBaseball is a hilarious sport. At one point in the season, the Rockies designated Eric Young Jr. for assignment, then he’s traded to the Mets for Collin McHugh, and now he is among the league leaders in stolen bases. This is the epitome of “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” however the Rockies probably wish they still had Young right now. This may be the best non-prospect trade that Sandy Alderson has made this season.

In his first two months with the Mets, his bat had a nice little hot streak especially in July when he carried a .704 OPS, good for a 107 wRC+. However his bat quickly cooled after that, as he had a wRC+ of 65 and 75 in August and September. In addition to Young’s bat, his defense has also been unspectacular with a UZR of -3.1.

Name BsR wRC+ Off Def WAR
Eric Young Jr 9.8 79 -4.0 -7.4 0.7

When we compartmentalize Young’s performance this season, the apparent theme is that he is below average at almost everything except for running around the basepaths. His BsR of 9.8 is the second best in the league, and puts him right in between Jacoby Ellsbury (11.4) and Elvis Andrus (9.6). This is not really that surprising considering he’s tied in the NL for steals, however the rest of his game is so below average that his baserunning barely outweighs the mediocrity of his bat and glove.

Young is a useful player, but it’s important that he is played to his strength. Young is not a good enough outfielder, and the Mets are definitely going to bring in some kind of replacement via free agency or trade. Young will probably be reduced to the role of a fourth outfielder. That doesn’t mean he can’t be valuable. He has the ability to be a serious weapon off the bench as a pinch runner. He shouldn’t be considered a professional outfielder, but rather a professional baserunner. Young is a nice option when someone slow like Lucas Duda reaches second base in the later innings, and the Mets really need a run.

A player like Young, someone who is only good at one part of the game, is undervalued. Teams probably won’t pay as high a premium for a guy who is only good at baserunning or only good at defense. We found out that the Mets were better off not spending $48 million on Michael Bourn. Despite the fact that Bourn is a better defender and better hitter, he’s not as good a baserunner as Young and the Mets are only paying $480,000 for him. Young runs well, real well, for real cheap.

10 comments for “Eric Young Jr. is a professional baserunner

  1. September 29, 2013 at 8:43 am

    Somewhere Herb Washington is smiling.

  2. steevy
    September 29, 2013 at 10:21 am

    If he could only get on base more.

  3. steevy
    September 29, 2013 at 10:22 am

    Read it and weep. http://tinyurl.com/k5an5be

  4. Metsense
    September 29, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    Young is definitely a 4th OF and backup 2B and you are correct that he has value as a runner but unfortunately TC is not innovative enough to use him that way. The Mets improved as a team when Young came onboard because it improved the defense and added speed to the line up. If the Mets want to compete then they will need to replace Byrd’s 2013 production and then upgrade over Young. If Young was an improvement, then imagine what an Ellsbury brings to the team, (and no compensation pick) :a lead off batter, with a high OBP, stolen bases and plus defense. Spend the money.

  5. Scott
    September 30, 2013 at 5:11 am

    I think the Mets are going to do the following this offseason; acquire 2 OF’s, one short term, one long term and a SS. The only two players that this scenario doesn’t occur with is if they sign Cano or Abreu (odds of which are pretty low).
    So, if I’m right, should that one, big long term contract be for a hitter we stick in the leadoff slot? What use would Choo’s OBP be on a
    team of guys that can’t knock him in? I’m not
    against signing Choo, but if he’s our big
    player move for the offseason, then he needs
    to hit 3rd, with Wright hitting cleanup.
    That leads an open slot at leadoff, which
    should be EY. His numbers don’t look great,
    but if you look a little deeper, you can
    understand EY’s skillset a little better.
    Your article does a great job of playing up his
    speed, which I agree is elite. His bat though
    isn’t as bad as the numbers seem.
    Would you take the following slash line in your
    leadoff hitter, if he had elite speed; 294/368/
    360? That’s what EY does in leadoff situations
    (leadoff the game, leadoff an inning, bat with
    nobody on and 1 out). That represented 239
    of his PA’s as a Met. He also was effective as
    a Met with RISP. Not great, but also not
    horrible. A perfect example of what EY brings to the leadoff spot was in evidence in the final game of the season: leadoff single, steals two bases, scores on a ground out, then in the ninth, knocks in a run on a groundout.
    Responsible for two of the 3 runs scored with
    two productive AB’s, yet his line shows 1for 4
    with a SO.
    My point isn’t that EY is great, but that he’s

    fine in that slot everyday, allowing the Mets to
    focus on acquiring middle of the order bats,
    their greatest need.
    Where would EY play everyday, 2B. Murphy’s
    getting traded and possibly Flores as well,
    although, I could see a scenario where they
    sign someone like Mike Morse to a short term deal and set up a crazy platoon situation with Morse (1B), Flores (2B) and EY (LF), playing against lefties and Flores playing first base against righties while EY slots back in at 2B while Den Dekker slots back into the OF.

    • Jerry Grote
      September 30, 2013 at 7:36 am

      reasonable points. But you can suffer only so many OBP of >.340 in your lineup. Clearly Lagares is one of those bats, and he’s an elite defender.

      I just ran a quick sort on all MLB on OPS+ and found 267 names greater than 97, the league average. Realistically, that’s something like 8 guys per team. We have 4.

      Using your example Scott, you can slice the data a million ways, but at the end of the day we can’t give up the three outs that EYJ gave up in his last game of the season … when you do it five or six times in a lineup.

  6. Scott
    September 30, 2013 at 9:07 am

    I agree, but the problem is that the Mets aren’t going to spend the money on Ellsbury or Choo and acquire a big bat, unless you’re talking Abreu.
    I suggested Matt Kemp above, but the ideal would probably be Abreu, Choo and a SS (I’d work with the Indians who could use a 1B and 3B, will deal Asdrubal Cabrera and have several quality SS prospects in the minors), that way you could hit Choo first and have enough middle order bats in Murphy Wright Abreu and Cabrera to knock him in while not putting too much pressure on Darnaud.
    I just think that they’re going to treat 1B in house and if they don’t get Kemp, Stanton or Cargo, they’re going to settle for Choo and a SS, then still rely on Davis or Duda as your primary run producer behind Wright. Basically, production wise what we had this year, accept that our leadoff guy is getting on base more, but we still can’t knock him in.

  7. Jerseymet
    September 30, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    I just don’t get people dismissing what Young has done. His closing speed in the outfield is amazing. He is a living highlight reel. Eric makes the game fun to watch. Play the man.

  8. Chris
    October 1, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    He’s got too much speed for us to let him go. He got on base 131 times with the Mets and stole 38 of 45. Pretty good percentage in both examples.

    • Name
      October 1, 2013 at 9:19 pm

      .318 OBP is nothing special for a guy people want to see as leadoff. Fact is, he can’t really hit and he can’t really field. He has one tool, speed.
      That’s a piece you can put on your postseason roster when you only need 4 SP but not someone you carry throughout the regular season.

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