There was a time where the last player you’d worry about was Michael Young.
However, that all changed in 2012. If regression finally hit the veteran super-utility infielder, it sure hit him hard, as Young posted his worst OPS (.682) and was a below replacement level player (-1.7 fWAR) for the first time in his career.
Leadership or not, that eventually led to the end of his days in Texas, and the new beginning he finds himself at with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Going into the 2013, there’s no doubt that the Phillies have a whole lot to prove — they’ve been told they’re too old, too broken, and no amount of veteran presence was going to help them compete with teams like the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals, who are built with young, in-their-prime superstars.
That said, arguably no player on the Phillies have more to prove than Young. More so than Ryan Howard or Chase Utley, who are significant injury risks, the 36-year old is going to need to prove to the baseball world that he can still play this game on the field and be productive at the highest level, instead of being known only as a clubhouse leader.
He’ll be called on as the team’s regular third baseman, and failure to produce enough to hold the job would leave the team with a significant hole that Kevin Frandsen is not likely going to be able to fill on a regular basis (unless you believe in his .366 BABIP-fueled .338/.383/.451 triple slash over .210 PA in 2012).
Unlike Howard and Utley, however, Young has done little to alleviate those concerns in Spring Training. Over 78 at-bats, the veteran has put up a paltry .269/.306/.372 triple slash, which would represent the worst Cactus League campaign in his entire career (as least as far as batting average goes anyway).
If 2012 had never happened, you could probably just throw these numbers out and suggest that he’ll be fine given his track record.
History doesn’t forget, however, and the fact that Young is following up his worst season in the bigs with his worst in Spring Training doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for faith on his road to redemption with the Phillies in 2013.