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Thursday, July 12, 2012
Halfway home: Can Michael Young get going?

By Richard Durrett

We continue our look at some of the second-half questions that face the Texas Rangers as they prepare to resume play Friday night in Seattle.

Halfway home: Can Michael Young get things going again?

It was a little odd to see eight Rangers players at the 2012 All-Star Game and not have Young among them. The seven-time All-Star has provided the game-winning hit twice for the American League and has been a Rangers' staple in the game. But a struggling first half meant he was at home during the All-Star break and not in Kansas City.

Things didn't start that way. For the first month of the season (28 games between April 6 and May 7), Young hit .322 with three homers and 19 RBIs. He had a .347 on-base percentage and was collecting clutch hits.

Since then, Young is batting just .243 with no homers and 16 RBIs (55 games). He has a .280 on-base percentage. For his career, Young has a .451 on-base percentage. He's got a .303 on-base percentage for the year. His lowest total over an entire season was .330 in 2010. But that year he also hit .284 and drove in 91 runs.

Perhaps Young's final game before the break can provide an important springboard for him. He went 4-for-6 against the Minnesota Twins, including a two-RBI double in the ninth to tie the score in a game the Rangers eventually won in extra innings.

The Rangers need Young's bat. He's now hitting sixth in the lineup -- and I've got to think manager Ron Washington will keep him there starting Friday -- and that's a spot that can still be a big run producer. Young has been a consistent clutch hitter his entire career, but that hasn't been the case for much of this season. It's strange to see Young in this kind of a slump for this long. Young, though, remains confident and can rely on his track record to help get him out of it. He was spraying balls on Sunday against the Twins, certainly a good sign. But he knows getting out of a slump means putting things together in more than one game.

Watch Young over the next week. He'll be playing against division teams and has a chance to get something going on the road. A lineup that has been inconsistent on offense certainly could use a productive Young.