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Ron Washington won't stop playing Michael Young

By Dayn Perry | Baseball Writer
Michael Young is, by all accounts, a great teammate, but he's not much of a hitter these days. (Getty Images)

Let's be frank: Rangers DH Michael Young is having a pretty awful season. At present, Young is batting .267.299.350 with five home runs in 509 at-bats, and he ranks fourth in the NL with 20 GIDPs. Those are unacceptable numbers for any player, let alone one who plays his home games in a hitter's park and provides no defensive value. Yes, Young is a franchise stalwart and a popular figure, but he's plainly not doing his job.

So why is he in the lineup almost every day? Manager Ron Washington told MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince that it has nothing to do with Young's numbers:

"Intangibles. He leads even when things are not right [for him personally]. That's what leaders do. If you didn't look at his numbers, you wouldn't know Michael Young is struggling. That's how he handles himself. He comes every day with the same tempo, same attitude, cheers on his teammates every night and busts his [tail] every night."

OK. Sure, it may be the case that Young's sterling carriage and bearing offset some of his out-making at the plate. But how many good vibes must one produce to make up for an OPS+ of 70?

Loyalty's a good thing in most instances, but Washington's job is to put the best team on the field. At the very least, Washington should put Young out of his misery against right-handed pitching (inexcusable .602 OPS in an inexcusable 389 plate appearances against right-handers this season). Instead, though, Young is a fixture in the lineup. Look, if Young's value, as his manager suggests, is in slapping butts, cheering from the top step and otherwise providing veteran-ish uplift to his teammates, then he can do that from the bench. As a primary DH, he's pretty secondary to the action on the field, anyway.

Some will no doubt point to the fact that the Rangers are in first place with Young as a regular presence. The numbers, however, suggest that they'd be even further in first place if Young's presence weren't quite so regular. By the sound of it, though, Ron Washington's team is going to have to continue winning in spite of their veteran DH.

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