Michael Young just isn’t missing his pitch. That makes sense when you are talking about a veteran who is vying for the American League batting title with a .334 average (four points behind Boston’s Adrian Gonzalez) entering tonight’s game at Seattle. However, there’s more to it.
Young had a plan back in spring training to be more aggressive on pitches in the strike zone and to be a tougher out when he has two strikes. Yes, even at 34 years old, with 10 years in the majors, one batting title on his resume (2005) and an offseason filled with drama, Young was focused on improving himself at the plate.
Following Wednesday night’s win over the Indians, I contacted our friends at ESPN Stats and Information to learn the difference between the Michael Young of 2010 and 2011 based on the variables mentioned above. Thanks to Courtenay Harris for compiling the following information:
Through September 14, 2010, Young was batting .305 on pitches inside the strike zone with 128 hits, including 17 home runs, 58 strikeouts, a .310 on-base percentage and a .494 slugging percentage.
Through September 14, 2011, Young has greatly improved on batting average, but his home run power has decreased. However, look at the difference. He is batting .352 with 150 hits, including six home runs, 43 strikeouts, a .351 on-base percentage and a .481 slugging percentage.
The significant stat when it comes to Young batting with two strikes is that he has cut down on his strikeouts this year compared to last year, from 104 to 78.
If you would like to totally geek out on stats, here’s some stats on Young for pitches out of the strike zone. He is chasing 5 percent fewer pitches this year while his batting average is at .289 (compared to .247 last year), and his on-base percentage is better, from .393 to .433.
Digest that and read his postgame comments from Rangers Baseball Tonight on the Texas Rangers ESPN Radio Network on what led to first-pitch swinging against Fausto Carmona for the bases loaded-clearing double in last night’s 7-to-4 win.
“I was just trying to get something up in the zone and really bear down on the strikezone,” Young said. “He’s got a great sinker. He’s got one of the best sinkers in the league. The last thing you want to do is go outside the strike zone and swing at something down on the ground and pound it to the third baseman and maybe have a double-play ball.”
I think it's safe to say that his approach is working even as the end of the regular season draws near.
Follow Bryan Dolgin on Twitter: @RangersRadioBD