Last December, Placido Polanco was departing Philadelphia for the glitz and heat of Miami to play third base for the Miami Marlins in 2013.
Almost simultaneously, Michael Young was waiving his no-trade clause with the Texas Rangers and finalizing a deal that would fill the vacant third base position for the Philadelphia Phillies. Despite the opposite directions both men were now embarked on, they share one thing in common — they’re both solid players with great reputations.
Polanco, at age 37, is a 15-year veteran with a .299 career batting average including 2,044 hits and 103 home runs. He is also a former All-Star third baseman, winning two Gold Gloves at second base and one at third. Before back and other assorted injuries began to limit his playing time, Polanco was a consistent, if not spectacular presence at the hot corner for the Phillies.
Young, age 36, is a 13-year veteran with a .301 career batting average including 2,230 hits and 177 home runs. He is a seven-time All-Star and a Gold Glove winner at shortstop, and he will be forever remembered as the player who replaced Alex Rodriguez. Like Polanco, Young brings a durable, honest, workman-like effort to his position.
Unlike Polanco, injuries have not been a concern during most of Young’s career, and only a proposed reduction in playing time by Rangers management created the trade opportunity. However, it’s evidence of the positive feelings and respect for Young by Rangers management that they will pay $10 million of the $16 million dollars he’s owed in 2013.
Off the field, Young’s dedication and commitment to success are a mirror image of his playing career. Young and his wife, Cristina, high school sweethearts, married in 2000. Both are devoted to charitable causes and contribute generously to efforts like Wipe Out Kids’ Cancer Campaign, Young Heroes Scholarship Progam, and the Michael Young Family Hispanic Scholarship Program.
Much of Young’s commitment to family and community were instilled in him by his construction worker father Fred, whom he admired greatly. It was because of Fred’s influence that he developed his awesome work ethic. Although baseball was his favorite sport, Young also took an interest in boxing and has two cousins who are professional boxers.
For the Phillies, Young will bring a steady and reliable arm at the hot corner, as well as a maturity and calming influence in the dugout. In fact, he may be the clubhouse leader that has been sorely missing in Phillies teams of recent memory.
Plus, when Michael Jack Schmidt, someone who clearly deserves recognition as the best Phillies’ third baseman ever and possibly the best hot corner player of all time, somewhat brazenly suggests Young would be a candidate for the Hall of Fame … it gets attention.
Whether or not Young ever achieves that pinnacle of success is for the future. The present moment is for relaxing in the knowledge that the Phillies have a more-than above-average player for what is often a truly hot corner.