Coming into 2009 Michael Young was a shortstop in decline moving to a corner infield position. He still has value as a shortstop, but many expected his value to collapse for 2010 and beyond.
Pablo Sandoval was a sleeper coming into 2009 with the potential for catcher eligibility. He has yet to get his five games at catcher, but has supplied very good numbers at the corner infield positions in his first full year. How similar are this weeks clones and what can their differences tell us?
Name GP AB R HR RBI SB CS K% BB% BABIP HR/F P/PA Micheal Young 99 400 58 16 47 7 2 16.50% 8.30% 0.356 14.20% 3.7 Pablo Sandoval 98 403 44 16 63 4 2 15.40% 6.80% 0.347 16.20% 3.4
Moving to third base made Young a forgotten player this year. He has never had an OPS over .900 in his career, getting to .899 in his 2005 season. That was also the last time he topped 20 homers. Since that year his power has dropped and his strikeout rate has gone from 13 percent to 16.5 percent.
His ability to hit line drives has always been one of his better skills, with a career line drive rate of 24.9 percent. This drives a .341 BABIP, which allows him to maintain a .350 career OBP even though his walk rate is not elite. Unfortunately BABIP fluctuations from season to season lead to drops in his OBP and has limited his run totals. He has averaged 99 runs in per 162 games in his career.
While his runs totals are limited, his five category numbers have been extremely consistent. His production is great at shortstop, but at third you need more than an above average, five category guy. You need a power bat. His return to his 2005 level of production has made him a viable option again. He won’t be an RBI option, even with 20-plus homers this year since he bats in the two and three slots in the lineup, but he can be a solid fpir category guy at the hot corner.
Defense isn’t usually a big factor in fantasy decision, but poor defense forced Young to move to third. So far it has worked out, but his defense at third has been poor as well. He has a -13.9 UZR/150 so far at third this year and a career -13.5 UZR/150 at short stop. With the money owed he isn’t going to the bench and his offense this year has more than made up for this, but if the offense falls up his playing time could be troublesome going forward.
|MLB: JUL 26 Giants at Rockies
July 26, 2009: Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval during a regular season game between the San Francisco Giants and the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies beat the Giants 4-2. (Icon/SMI)
So many saw Sandoval as the huge sleeper who could get catcher eligibility by the end of May. Someone who could hit .300 and with 20 homers at catcher is always a valuable commodity, but there was concern that he might not play enough at catcher. He likely won’t get the two games he still needs to get eligibility in most leagues this year and is unlikely to play as a catcher in the future.
Surprisingly, he has remained valuable, with a line of .324/.372/.551 so far this year. The contact numbers look very much like Young’s so far. He makes good contact and could use some work on his walk rate, but his solid BABIP has helped make him a .300 hitter.
His power is still growing, but as a groundball hitter he will have trouble topping 30 homers in AT&T Park. He has a groundball rate of 46.9 percent this year, which is very similar to Michael Young’s career rate of 45.3 percent. Sandoval won’t be leaving San Francisco any time soon, but playing in the NL West has to limit his power numbers.
Sandoval has become a fan favorite this year and looks like an established member of the Giants lineup for the next four to five years. He has a body that might not age very well—he has been called “22 going on 30” by Dave Cameron—but has earned him the nickname “Kung Fu Panda.”
They may look alike this year statistically, but Sandoval has the better chance to maintain his numbers and value worthy of a third basemen. Young is going to be a very risky pick next year at third base, while Sandoval should be a solid top 10 option. For the rest of 2009 though, they look fairly equal, with Young getting more runs and Sandoval getting more RBIs.