Texas Rangers' Michael Young, the Ultimate "Team Player"
Michael Young is the ultimate teammate. Honestly I could quit writing right there and gets the point across. Since the team came to Texas in 1972 this franchise has had a decent supply of “pure team players,” from Jim Sundberg to Toby Harrah to Steve Buechele to Rusty Greer to Pudge Rodriguez and now Michael Young. Yes, I know there are some other great “pure team players” I left out, but can’t mention them all. However you get the idea, this franchise has had many “pure team players,” guys that sacrifice themselves, their efforts, their individual goals for the good of the team no matter what. Now maybe it’s because I grew up watching the Rangers since the mid-80s, but for me when it comes to the best teammate, the guy I definitely want leading my team, there are very few who can hold a candle to Michael Young.
A quick glance at Young’s career: he became a Ranger via trade with the Blue Jays on July 19th, 2000, and since then the Blue Jays have had reasons to kick themselves every year for that trade. Though he played in two games that season, it was May 25th, 2001 when he was called up from Oklahoma City to Texas for the final time. Young started in 102 games at second base that year and would spend the next three seasons holding down the position. In 2004 when the Texas Rangers traded mega-contract Alex Rodriguez to the New York Yankees for 2B Alfonso Soriano and IF prospect Joaquin Arias, it was Young who VOLUNTEERED to switch from playing second base to shortstop. He would then spend the next four seasons at short, which concluded with an AL Gold Glove in 2008. Soriano started off as his double play partner up the middle, but after being traded to Washington current 2B Ian Kinsler took over duties. After the 2008 season the Rangers were ready to promote top prospect SS Elvis Andrus (acquired in the Mark Teixiera trade with Atlanta), and therefore asked Young to move again and this time to third base. At first Young was not receptive to moving off the spot that he currently held the Gold Glove, but after voicing some frustrations Young sacrificed his pride and made the switch. Never again was the move an issue and as soon as Spring Training started Young and utility infielder, and future Hall of Famer Omar Vizquel took Andrus under their wing.
So here we are today, after four seasons at second base, four seasons at shortstop, and now two seasons at third base, Michael Young cooperates with the front office and agrees to switch positions again. This time Young will be more than likely taking over the regular DH role, but will also be a super utility man. He is the only player in Major League Baseball history to play at least 130 games at second base, shortstop, and third base. Did you catch that, take a moment and re-read that fact and let it sink in…I’ll wait. That’s right, the ONLY player to accomplish that. This makes him the perfect fit as super utility as he can easily play these three infield positions on a regular basis and it is possible that he sees some time at first base during Spring Training as an alternate to Mitch Moreland.
After the 2004 season Young moved from second base to shortstop…why? To make the “TEAM” better.
After the 2008 season Young moved from shortstop to third base…why? To make the “TEAM” better.
And once again after the 2010 season Young will move from third base to DH \ super utility man…why? Well you get the picture.
It doesn’t take a diehard fan to realize the importance and the leadership that radiates from Young. Though he has his individual awards and accomplishments during his tenure with the Rangers: Rangers Rookie of the Year (2001), Rangers Heart and Hustle Award (2006, ’07, ’09, ’10), Rangers MVP (2004, ’05, ’07, ’09), AL All-Star (2004 – 2009), AL Gold Glove (2008), and AL Batting Title (2005), Young would be the first to tell you that the only thing that matters is the team winning. In 2010 we all got to finally see him raise up that AL West Division Champs trophy which was last won the year before trading for Young, and there wasn’t any player that deserved it more. Not only that but Young then played in his first postseason game, won a postseason game, won a postseason series, won the AL Pennant, and played in a World Series. Now his goal, and his teammates is to repeat those steps, return to the World Series and finish what they started. And so once again Young has sacrificed his pride and personal goals, moved off third base, and made this team better. Why? Because that’s what “pure team players” do and for that I thank you Mr. Ranger.