Baseball 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.
|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.