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04/06/08 3:40 PM ET

Young at DH on 35th anniversary

Rangers shortstop has highest career average at position

ANAHEIM -- The Rangers lineup on Sunday showed a little appreciation for history. The greatest designated hitter in history was celebrating a historical moment by doing just that.

Michael Young started at designated hitter on Sunday on the 35th anniversary of the first DH to ever appear in an American League game. It was on April 6, 1973, that Ron Bloomberg of the New York Yankees stepped to the plate for the first official plate appearance by a DH.

"Oh yeah, just how I mapped it out," Young said.

Actually, Young might not be the greatest designated hitter in history. That honor might go to somebody who has seen a little more time at the spot. Paul Molitor, Harold Baines, David Ortiz and Edgar Martinez come to mind.

But Young did go into Sunday's game with a .417 career batting average as a designated hitter, the highest ever for a player with at least 80 at-bats in the role. Young was 35-for-84. Baines, if you're keeping track, had 5,806 at-bats at designated hitter.

Young's .462 on-base percentage was second behind Barry Bonds, who had a .500 mark. Young was second behind Larry Walker in OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage), as well.

"I still prefer the National League style of play, but it is nice that five times a year I can get off my feet and still get some at-bats," Young said.

Yeah, but if you're going to be a .400 hitter as a DH rather than a .300 hitter as a shortstop ...

"It's pretty coincidental," Young said. "I definitely prefer playing in the field. But times at DH can be beneficial because you can rest your body and still contribute offensively. Playing in Texas is a unique situation. Your body gets worn down more than any other place in the league."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.