Fan Appreciation Day: Eric Young Is Not an Axe Murderer

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Jimmy:

As a reader, I tend to find it slightly offensive or, at best, inappropriate, when a blogger or reporter writes about what “the fans” think or feel. We are not a monolithic entity, but a sprawling plurality. A chaotic mess of contradictory thoughts and emotions, unified only by our support of the New York Mets.

We root for the same laundry and that is the sum of our GroupThink.

That stated, I do feel that Eric Young has been somewhat undervalued by Mets fans in general.  Essentially, there’s two reasons for that:

1) Juan Lagares: “we” want him to play and EY threatens that.

2) Terry Collins: whose uncertain logic represents, in a phrase, “the Mets being the Mets.” The royal “we” doesn’t trust his decision-making ability.

"Okay, you can let go of my hand now, Terry."

“Okay, you can let go of my hand now, Terry.”

But pushing that stuff aside, I feel it’s made some folks blind to the very real positives that come from having Eric Young on your team. The positives outweigh EY’s equally real flaws; he’s a good guy to have on the club. An asset.

I’m saying: Terry Collins is not completely wrong (for a change).

What do you think, Mike? You read the daily Twitter feed. Is that your sense of things? Some people out there seem to really hate him.

Mike:

Well, nobody is upset enough on Twitter that they are flipping him off or anything. Well, almost nobody.

When it comes to Young Jr., he is something of a lightening rod. Many fans seem to have a big problem with him, mostly due to that “Lagares factor.” Juan is very popular with fans right now, and his good start accentuated that. EY playing regularly and, therefore, pushing Lagares to the bench was an unpopular idea. In particular EY is unpopular with the sabermatric crowd, who do not greatly value his best attribute, speed.

Conversely, I see a fair amount of fans that love EY. Fans where he is one of their favorite players on the team, if not the favorite one. Speed is fun, and not many players are faster than Eric Young Jr. He also seems like a genuinely good guy, who always plays hard, additional factors that endear him to his fans.

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The combination of reactions is interesting to me, as it has me believing EY is always simultaneously under- and over-rated. I love the speed, but not the bat. But he was born to play at Citi Field, if only he took better routes on fly balls. Since he does not, I end up loving him as this team’s super sub, but no more than that.

Jimmy:

Yes, and that’s been our point, I think. We agree that Eric Young is a valuable sub, ideal for Citi Field, and that he should get 400 ABs a season, to pick a number.

I’ve long toyed with the idea for a post titled, “Not All OBP Is Created Equal.” I learned that most acutely from watching Lance Johnson, a speedster who was often criticized because he did not walk enough. (BTW, this underscores the reality that OBP is not the new idea that some folks pretend it to be.) The chance of EY getting on base and scoring is much, much greater than it is for, say, Lucas Duda. We can’t look at OBP for all players as if it’s the same value. Yes, the outs are the same, and outs are destruction, the ruination of possibility. But EY gets tremendous production out of a pretty crummy on-base percentage. He comes all the way around the bases.

Mike:

Because EY is popular with a large segment of fans, I saw a trend where Chris Young was becoming a villain, and the guy hadn’t even played a game yet.

Jimmy:

Yes, the hand-wringing over the return of Chris Young was so great that I wrote about it, “Something Is Wrong . . . When the Return of Chris Young Fills Fans with Dread.” Fans were waiting in the weeds to hate this guy, largely because of what he meant to our beloved Lagares.

Mike:

Of course, Lagares got injured, any potential controversy was put on hold, and a new villain has emerged.

Jimmy:

I began this post with the fabulously clever title, “Eric Young Is Not an Axe Murderer.”

Clue1

So, yes, the fans have gone a bit overboard, as we are wont to do.

Besides, we’ve all played Clue.

We know by now the true identity of the Murderer.

So after a deep breath I intone . . .

grandy-web“I accuse Curtis Granderson, on the baseball field, with the bat.”

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23 comments

  1. RAFF says:

    Now there’s a compelling thought- regarding the comparative propensity of players to advance additional bases and score, once they have gotten on base. Somehow, there’s a measureable stat to be extracted which will reveal a measurement of what our eyes plainly see.

    • Sigh. Every time you make these kinds of snide complaints about “statistics” you reveal a complete lack of understanding. There are smart, good, decent people who know a lot about baseball — a LOT — who are actively looking at, and attempting to measure, these facets of the game. It’s been around a long time. Statistics are simply a record of what happened in a ball game. They are not the enemy. It’s simply a matter of proportion and balance.

      We are not at all anti-statistics here at “2 Guys.”

      JP

      • I’ve always been impressed by the intellectual rigor of Tom Tippett when he takes on a statistical issue. This is a brilliant man, who knows baseball, attempting to measure what happens in the game. In this case, he looks at Ichiro in 2001, but it should go a long way, I hope, to demonstrate that very smart folks have been working on these issues for a long time. That’s why I guess I’m offended, frustrated when I read snarky, dismissive comments about stat guys vs. “eyes.”

        http://207.56.97.150/articles/ichiro.htm

        • Eraff says:

          The Stat Guys have provided tremendous information and it informs “Eyes” greatly! We’ve always been Stat Guys as Baseball Fans—HR’s, BA, RBI, Hits.

          Dismissing “watching the game” OR “Sabermetrics”…both are Fool’s Missions.

      • Raf says:

        I am actually 100% in agreement with you- and your comment that “not all OBP is created equal” really rung my bell. As you stated- you “learned this watching Lance Johnson”- And I have observed this, too- but never heard it so well and concisely expressed as in your statement. Figuring out how to measure what we see in order to provide a stat which helps better assess a ballplayers contribution would be a terrific stat to have. Not sure why you understood me to be saying something completely different than what I intended to state.

  2. Eraff says:

    There’s a Saber Opportunity for “adding bases” for Steals and even 1st to third base running. The stuff that doesn’t happen in isolation but captured by the eyes….. I wouldn’t add a base per steal, but there is a reality to baserunning and steals.

    Eric Young is a really nice player—a great bench guy. His energy and style should make him a fan PET….. starting him in a weak hitting lineup as a Left Fielder is a formula to make him fail…and Failure is NOT Loveable.

    He has positional flexibility…runs bases well…carries his glove decently enough… if he can play 2b from time to time he would be an incredibly good asset…. a great spot starter, inning starter (late switch pinch hitter), double switchable 23,24,25 player.

    • Patrick Boegel says:

      I’d absolutely add a base per steal and also take them away for caught stealing.

      • Actually, a CS is a terrible thing because it 1) Removes a baserunner; and 2) Creates an out. In one swoop, you’ve gone from, say, Runner at 1st, no outs to no one on, one out. The run probability goes way down. So take away a base is not penalty enough. Studies I’ve read factor that in, which is why the general rule of thumb is that if you are effective less than 75% of the time, then you are better off never attempting to steal at all. If you steal 20 and get caught 10, overall there no gain and possibly a loss of run probability.

        • Eraff says:

          Interesting…and I think ACCURATE. Similar to a guy getting gunned down trying to stretch a single to a double.

          That said…. is a single/walk/etc + a Steal almost equal to a double? I believe there’s an added value to EXTRA BASES— I admit, better to hit for them than to pilfer them, but there is an impact.

          Hey…I’m not running the base stealers Union,.,.,,,but a runner standing on 2nd base has value.

          Baseball is unusual–very circumstantial stats—- 9 hits can get you lot’s of runs…if 5 of them are in an inning…ZERO runs of they’re “spread out”. The stats are far more interdependent—if we’re trying to devine the roots of success—versus other sports.

          Thanks to Bill James–fascinating stuff!!!

        • Should have clarified, I worked this up for Jose Reyes several years ago, when debating with someone that his stealing bases was overrated and useless.

          What I did, which was exhaustive and borderline ridiculous, added a base, but when caught took away the entire instance, ie if he got a double and was caught stealing third he basically when from +2 to -3. A walk +1 to -2.

          Another guy took that a step further and then added a half base if Reyes SB lead to a manufactured run, ie if he scored from second on a single after stealing, or from third on a ground out after stealing 3rd. If he scored on any extrabase hit it was given no additional value as it was deemed he would have scored anyway.

  3. IB says:

    When I watch EY I think of Mookie. A guy who never put up great stats but could change the tempo of a game just by being out there. That rare ability to spark confusion on the opposition. Which brings me to this: The Mook is a beloved icon of time past with, arguably, no better tools than EY. As you folks point out, used correctly as part of a greater whole, this is a really nice asset. Why do “we” (ha!) need villians anyway?

    • Mookie was, I think, a much better pure hitter than EY, who is simply a bad hitter. One of the worst episodes in “Mets being Mets” dithering was the Wilson-Dykstra platoon. To me, I loved Dykstra and believed in him totally. I wanted him out there everyday. The team could never quite figure out what to do with those guys and, amazingly, dumped them BOTH in short order — and traded for 2B Juan Samuel and, stupidly, arrogantly, threw him into CF, where he was predictably awful. What a mess. The comparison might make even more sense if Juan Lagares becomes our Dykstra, the guy they needed to play on a regular basis. To me, the potential villain is management, but because of injuries we still haven’t seen how it will all fall out. Am I braced for the worst? Yeah, I kind of expect it.

    • Michael Geus says:

      He reminds me a lot of Mookie as well. It’s hard to compare eras, so Mookie was probably a relatively better hitter, but Wilson did have a lifetime 314 OBP. Both are also very fast, but not great defensive route runners.

      I’ve often made the same comparison, IB.

      • Mookie Wilson hit over .275 eight seasons of his career. Eric Young has hit over .250 only twice — ever — and one of those two times he hit .251. He’s not a good hitter.

        They are similar players in many ways. But Mookie was clearly the better hitter.

  4. IB says:

    I don’t remember Mookie as a pure hitter. I remember a guy who tried to hit the ball on the ground and use his legs. EY could learn a thing or 2 from Mookie. But, the package is there. I might be long on hope and short on reason here. Dunno.

  5. IB says:

    I hope my reply works but it probably won’t:

    The problem a lot of the time is that “stat guys” are blinded by numbers, or so it would appear. The numbers even become God and they can “project” the future in an iffy universe based on the acutely statisticalized past. That’s simply amazing. I’m an old baseball card stat nut, but this signals something different. Something about digital culture and the loss of ones real senses. I can’t put my finger on it.

    OK – I’m prepared to take my punishment. In the words of Oscar Madison, “I’ll accept anything but a spanking”.

    • I believe that the numbers can create a false sense of certitude in many statistically-oriented people. So they become more black and white, narrower, and absolutely more arrogant about their opinions, which they now mistake for TRUTH, writ large. They tend to close doors when, in actuality, they should be opening them. At least that’s my perception. OTOH, the “eyes” folks often just say stuff without any factual basis, based on small sample size and personal bias. The answer is boring to say out loud, but obviously the ideal is some combination of the two. It’s not either/or, and it’s a huge mistake to fall into that trap.

  6. Reese Kaplan says:

    Well, to complete your analogy, Juan Lagares DID come up as a shortstop :)

    Your best line in this article — “I’m saying: Terry Collins is not completely wrong (for a change)”

    As I always say, even broken clocks are right twice a day..

  7. wkkortas says:

    “Eric Young Is Not An Axe Murderer” is, of course, the answer to the Jeopardy! question “What Eric Young’s agent will emphasize as his most valuable asset when he reaches free agency in 2017.”

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