Michael Young rewrote the Rangers' record books in a 6-3 win over Florida on Wednesday that stretched Texas' winning streak to four.
Young tied Ivan Rodriguez on the Rangers' all-time hits list with an double to right center off Jorge Sosa to lead off the seventh. An inning later, the Rangers third baseman established the mark with his 1,748th hit -- a single off Jay Buente that drove in two runs and gave Texas a 5-2 lead.
It surprises me to see that Young's career OPS+ is just 106 (essentially, he's been six percent better than an average American League hitter during his career). We might have guessed higher, considering his .303 career batting average. And that's not been an empty batting average, as Young, while no champion walker, does draw around 50 walks per season; he's also hit 52 doubles in one season and 24 home runs in another.
But he's never drawn a lot of walks or hit for much power, plus he's spent his entire career in a good hitter's park, which does knock down his value as a hitter, by a peg or two. That's not meant as a knock, just the way it is (or was).
Young's going to finish this season with more than 1,800 hits. At 33, he figures to play for at least five more seasons and average (conservatively) 150 hits per season, which would give him more than 2,500 hits through his age 38 season. I think 3,000 hits is something of a long shot, but as a longtime shortstop with somewhere between 2,500 and 3,000 hits, there's going to be talk about the Hall of Fame. Particularly when people noticed that Young's career batting line -- currently .303/.350/.451 -- is vaguely similar to Derek Jeter's.
Here's why I won't find that comparison particularly compelling:
Jeter's going to wind up spending a significantly higher percentage of his career as a shortstop;
Jeter's home ballparks will be significantly more pitcher-friendly than Young's;
Jeter's going to finish with significantly bigger numbers in the counting stats (hits, runs, etc.); and
You might not want to hear this (if you're not a Yankees fan), but Jeter's October feats have to count for something, don't they? This fall, Jeter's probably going to score his 100th postseason run. I know it's hardly fair to dock Young for his team's many failures to qualify for the postseason, but I don't think that means we just ignore what Jeter has done.
I saved this for last because it's a little abstract, but I do think it's worth mentioning ... With roughly 70 Wins Above Replacement in his career, Jeter's already firmly established in Hall of Fame territory. Young, just three years younger than Jeter, has 24.1 WAR and he's finished in the top 10 in MVP voting just once.
Young's been a fine player, and one of the greatest Rangers. Still, there are six Rangers ahead of him on the franchise's career WAR list. Yes, Ivan Rodriguez and Rafael Palmeiro. But also Buddy Bell (40.1), Toby Harrah (34.3) and Jim Sundberg (30.0). And none of those guys are going into the Hall of Fame.