Just imagine someone in a laboratory was tasked with creating the perfect baseball player. He would end up making Michael Young.
Sure, players have hit for more power, some for higher average, some stole more bases, some played flashier defense—all the things that populate highlight reels—but nobody could consistently excel at excelling quite like Michael Young. He was a machine. A machine with grace, dignity, and composure.
And, sure, his final career tallies might not be enough to earn him a place in Cooperstown. But you won’t find a player enshrined on any plaque in that Hall that had more baseball sense.
The guy was the perfect player to be a fan of. He never let you down. Never gave up. Never half-assed it to first. Never phoned it in.
He commands so much respect, in fact, that one doesn’t refer to him as Young. The quintessential complete ballplayer earned the right to be called by his complete name.
He’s Michael Young.
Young didn’t win the batting title in 2005. Michael Young did. Young didn’t collect two hundred or more hits five seasons in a row. Michael Young did. Young wasn’t a seven-time All-Star and five-time MVP vote getter. Michael Young was. Young didn’t win the All-Star Game MVP in 2006. Michael Young did.
He was a fan favorite even if he didn’t always garner that respect from his front office.
After establishing himself in 2001 as the Rangers second baseman, the team made a trade for second baseman Alfonso Soriano and moved Michael Young to shortstop in 2004. He simply took it in stride and became an All-Star at that position, and a franchise icon.
Then, in 2009, the Rangers decided he was no longer their shortstop. Some kid named Elvis Andrus would be. Only thing is, nobody from the team had the spine to tell him. The icon of the franchise was pushed aside without so much as a simple “oh, hey, by the way…”
You don’t disrespect someone who respects the game as much and Michael Young did. He requested a trade.
He eventually stayed, and moved to third. That is, until the Rangers went out and got another third baseman named Adrian Beltre for the 2011 season.
Michael Young again was told to find a new position. They were going to put him out to pasture as the team’s DH. He wasn’t ready, nor deserving, to be a one-way player. So, this time he told them to shove it. He publically stated the team “misled and manipulated him” once again, and wanted out.
The Rangers didn’t even respect his desire to be traded for disrespecting him. So, all he did in 2011 was have another brilliant season, finishing third in the A.L. in batting at .338, and tying his new teammate Adrian Beltre for most hits, at 213. He finished fifth in RBIs as well.
After he slowed down in 2012 (slow by Michael Young standards but still a solid season for mere mortal players), the Rangers told him they were planning to cut his playing time in 2013. They eventually traded him to Philadelphia. The next year he ended his career as a Dodger.
Seeing Michael Young in a hat other than one with the Texas “T” on it was wrong on every level. He was a Ranger, through and through.
Last night the Rangers repaid a measure of respect back to Michael Young. They retired his number. No Ranger will ever wear the number 10 again.
On a scale of one to ten, Michael Young was a ten. A perfect ten.
Yusei Kikuchi (5-9, 5.36) vs. Brett Martin (1-2, 4.56)
Game time: 2:05