Should the Mets believe in the long-term prospects of Eric Young Jr.?This is the third in a series of pieces that we’re writing about Mets who have performed well recently, taking a closer look at their strengths and weaknesses, along with a scout’s perspective on a longer-term outlook for that player. Our first two articles looked at Juan Lagares and Ike Davis. Today’s piece focuses on Eric Young Jr.
Believe It ...
Young quickly became a fan favorite, the combination of his hot-hitting start and hustle winning fans over. He legitimately rates among the fastest players the Mets have had, alongside Mookie Wilson, Vince Coleman, Esix Snead, Carlos Gomez and Jose Reyes.
Eric Young Jr.
2013 With Mets
Young has 15 steals in 19 attempts and has taken the extra base (i.e. gone first to third or second to home on a single, or first to home on a double) on 68 percent of base hits, the highest rate of anyone currently on the team.
One of the things Young did in his first six weeks as a Met was to work deep counts and draw walks at a higher rate than he’d done in the past. His first-inning at-bats have become notable for their length. He’s seen an average of 4.6 pitches per plate appearances and has a .375 on-base percentage in those game-opening turns.
Young’s defense may not rate overwhelmingly high statistically, but he’s made a number of notable plays, the kind the Mets weren’t getting in left field until his arrival, including a recent game-saving catch against the Colorado Rockies.
... Or Not
Young’s body of work prior to coming to the Mets suggested that some of his offensive numbers were Coors Field-inflated. He had a batting average barely above .200 outside of Colorado prior to joining the Mets.
When Young hits the ball in the air, he contributes little offensively, because of his limited power. He ranks among the bottom 20 in estimated distance on fly balls and line drives (256 feet).
During the slump that resulted in him getting a day off on Wednesday, Young got away from what was working for him and became more of a hacker. He has only three walks in 57 August plate appearances, a walk rate less than half of what it was in his first six weeks with the team.
Defensively, Young’s value is that he turns batted balls into outs at a rate equal to an average left fielder. His other skills rate below average. He rates tied for worst in baseball with Matt Holliday in the component of Defensive Runs Saved that measures the deterrent value of an outfield arm.
The scout we spoke to sounded higher on Lagares than he did Young, but thinks that Young is a more-than-competent role player.
“He’s a very athletic player who brings a lot of energy on a daily basis. He makes the roster more athletic, which the Mets needed. He is a plus baserunner, very good and very aggressive. I would not want to be catching throws at first base with him running through the bag hard. He flies down the line every time on routine grounders. Scouts love that.”
“He’s a sparkplug with plus makeup. He has a lot of good intangibles, his good baseball genes from his father. (His weaknesses) are that most switch-hitters are not good breaking-ball hitters, and he falls into that category. His throwing is suspect at times. But I see him as a very serviceable super-utility player on a winning team.”
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