There's been so much to like about Michael Young's season that saying anything remotely negative about it leaves one feeling like they need a shower.
He went from being a superfluous and unhappy spare part to a guy who carried the offense for long stretches in the early part of the season. Young then kept the motor running while everybody caught up, filled in around the diamond on defense and earned his 2,000th hit wearing the same uniform he's worn every day in the big leagues.
This could wind up being the best year of his career if he doesn't lose steam down the stretch, a true accomplishment worthy of admiration and praise from every corner. It isn't good enough to make him the American League Most Valuable Player, however.
"As far as I'm concerned, he's the MVP on this team and it could be in the league," Washington said. "He's certainly been the most valuable player for us. I don't get a vote on it, but if I had to vote on it, he'd get my vote. He has to be a strong candidate."
You can see where such an argument takes shape. Young currently places second in the AL in batting average, seventh in total bases, second in doubles, fifth in RBI and 10th in OPS. He's also done very well with runners in scoring position and late in close games. All of those things are laudable, but they aren't enough to make him MVP.
As good as Young's offensive numbers are, his total package still ranks well behind the seasons turned in by Jose Bautista, Jacoby Ellsbury, Adrian Gonzalez, Curtis Granderson and Dustin Pedroia. He's created fewer runs than all of those players, something that must be taken into account when determining the most valuable player in the league.
Defense also matters, although you'll never hear that in any pro-Young argument. Obviously it is difficult to move around the diamond and go long stretches without using a glove, but it doesn't change the fact that Young isn't a good defensive player. That drags down his offensive contributions and makes it very hard to come up with a coherent argument.
No one stat is perfect for figuring out a player's true value, but Wins Above Replacement is as close as we have at present and Young lags well behind other players whether you use the figures provided by Baseball Reference or Fangraphs. You could certainly include Young in the bottom part of a ballot without any shame, but the idea that he's the MVP is a hard one to wrap your head around.
In fact, we're not even sure he's the most valuable Rangers player this season. He's hit better than Ian Kinsler, but Kinsler's defense has been sparkling all year and he's also a superb base runner. Quantifying those two things can be difficult, but they certainly matter a great deal when determining whether Player A is more valuable than Player B.
That question is less clear cut than the one of the AL MVP. Young's season has been great, but it hasn't been great enough to deserve that kind of honor. Although people will surely feel otherwise, this isn't a knock on Young. It's just reality.