Chris Young has improved his average in every season since an abysmal 2013 campaign with Oakland where he hit .200 in 107 games. In 2016, he slashed .276/.352/.498 in 227 plate appearances over 76 games while battling through various injuries. Young improved against right-handed pitchers in 2016, increasing his average from .182 to .246 against righties, while maintaining a strong .329 average against southpaws. He hit nine home runs and stole four bases over the course of the season. Considering that he only played in 76 games, nine home runs isn't bad for an aging outfielder like Young. He doesn't possess the same speed he used to, however, as he once stole 28 bases in a season as an everyday center fielder. He played just three games in center last year, as he's made the switch to the outfield corners. Given his role as a small-side platoon player, Young is more interesting as a DFS spot starter than as a season-long filler.
Young should get regular at-bats as Boston's designated hitter against left-handed starters in 2017. Young was signed to a two-year deal prior to last season with the intention of starting him in the outfield against left-handed starters. And he pretty much did that and more when he was healthy. He'll serve as the team's fourth outfielder, but manager John Farrell will not want to sit Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley or Mookie Betts against pitchers of any hand. That leaves designated hitter as the likely landing spot for Young. He'll be part of a first-base/DH platoon with Hanley Ramirez and Mitch Moreland.
Young went 4-for-4 with a pair of doubles, a homer, and three runs scored Monday against the Orioles. He was also caught stealing. After the Red Sox chased Baltimore starter Wade Miley from the game after just 1.1 innings, Young took reliever Vance Worley for a double and a home run. He later added his third extra-base hit against Brian Duensing, capping an outstanding day at the plate. Young has a solid .290 batting average over 169 at-bats on the year, with a nice .550 slugging percentage to go along with it.
Young homered and drove in two runs in a 2-for-4 game in Tuesday's win over San Diego. After going just 4-for-23 without a home run in his first 10 games back from the disabled list, Young has found his power stroke. He lifted his second home run in two games after managing a blast in a pinch-hitting role Monday. Young has a .519 slugging percentage in 60 games this year after managing a .453 mark and 4 home runs in 140 games for the Yankees last season.
Young was the starting left fielder Thursday, the first game following Andrew Benintendi's knee injury that landed him on the disabled list. He went 0-for-2 with a walk and strikeout before being lifted for a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning of Boston's 2-1 loss to Tampa Bay. The Red Sox are still figuring out the severity of Benintendi's knee injury -- Thursday's MRI was inconclusive -- but that in itself is worrisome. With the rookie placed on the 15-day disabled list, Young will have at least the next two weeks as Boston's primary left fielder. It could be longer pending the results of additional testing on Benintendi due Friday.
Young is expected to see increased playing time in left field after Andrew Benintendi (knee) was placed on the DL on Thursday, Sean McAdam of Comcast Sports Net reports. With Benintendi set to miss at least two weeks, and potentially more, both Young and Brock Holt are expected to fill the void in left field. However, manager John Farrell indicated Thursday morning that Young will get the "majority of the at-bats," while Holt will enter the lineup against "some" right-handers.