The Mets’ signing of Chris Young to a one-year, $7.25 million contract last winter was not exactly the most popular transaction in team history. Coming off a season in which he hit just .200/.280/.379, the 30-year-old was seen by many as too high risk to justify his salary. And on the whole this year, Young’s detractors have unfortunately been correct.
At his best, Young excelled in two areas: outfield defense and hitting for power. For several years—and as recently as 2012—defensive metrics loved his work in the outfield, much of which came in center. And on a year-by-year basis, his isolated slugging—slugging percentage minus batting average, a good indicator of power—hovered around .195. That didn’t make Young an elite power hitter in comparison to his peers, but it was nothing to sneeze at.
In 271 plate appearances this year, Young’s power has dipped significantly. He’s posted just a .151 isolated slugging, the lowest single-season mark of his career to date since he played his first thirty big league games in 2006. And his defense has not been fantastic, whether by the metrics or watching him play on television and in person.
But the Mets have held on to Young, and while he’s not getting everyday playing time, he’s still getting chances to stick around. And in July, Young posted a .731 OPS, easily his best mark in any month this season. For reference, major league left fielders have produced a .728 OPS this year.
One month of success limited playing time doesn’t erase three months of struggle, but has Young shown enough at the plate lately to justify semi-regular playing time over the remainder of the 2014 season?