ARLINGTON, TX - JUNE 06: Michael Young #10 of the Texas Rangers fails to make the stop on a line drive against the Detroit Tigers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on June 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
When the Rangers discussed the reasons for holding onto Michael Young during their acrimonious offseason dealings with him, one of the things that came up most often was that Young's presence would allow Ron Washington increased roster flexibility.
He could play all around the infield to give guys like Adrian Beltre or Ian Kinsler a blow or a half-day's work as the DH. He could play first base and Mitch Moreland could do the same for someone in the outfield corners. Basically, Young was going to be more than just a DH. He was going to be a super utility player who Washington could just plug in without further worry.
It has pretty much worked out that way. Young's bounced all around the diamond (though never to third base) and the Rangers have reaped the benefit of having his potent bat in the lineup on a daily basis. When Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz went down with injuries, Young carried a hefty share of the offensive load and all was sunshine and rainbows in the Metroplex.
Alas, all good things come to an end and Young's season has taken a turn for the worse. He's just 3-for-30 since the calender flipped to June and hasn't had an extra base hit since May 29th. Since the start of the month, Young has lost 64 points off his OPS and his strikeout rate has skyrocketed.
We're obviously dealing with a small sample size and every player will go through slumps over the course of a long season, but it would seem that something needs to be done to help Young get through this rough patch. Ironically enough, the best solution could be to do the reverse of what Young has been doing all season.
It might be time for Washington to stop using Young as the guy who gives everyone else a blow and give him a day or two off to catch his breath. Young has played in all but one game this season while Elvis Andrus sat for the eighth time on Tuesday night. That would be out of balance even if Young wasn't 12 years older than Andrus, but the age gap just drives home the point that the grind might be getting to Young all the more.
Young's been a pleasant surprise for the Rangers so far. It would be a shame if he ceases to be one because the Rangers ride him into the ground.