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05/05/09 4:59 PM ET
Young's new position yields more power
Infielder on early offensive tear after switching to third base
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
SEATTLE -- The Rangers in the offseason switched Michael Young to a defensive position that traditionally is viewed as an offensive power spot in the lineup. The Rangers moved Young over to third base from shortstop for defensive purposes, but he really has produced some serious power in his first month at the hot corner. Young hit his seventh home run of the season on Monday night and went into Tuesday's game against the Mariners with a .610 slugging percentage, the 11th highest in the American League. "It's just a coincidence," Young said Tuesday morning. "I've always been able to knock in runs and score runs, so I'm not going to change my approach just because I've changed positions." Young has driven in at least 90 runs in four of the last five seasons, and he has scored at least 100 runs in four of the last six seasons. His established a career high of 24 home runs in 2005, but his home run rate this season has been better than his norm. Young's seventh home run came in the Rangers 25th game. His previous fastest to seven home runs was in 34 games back in '05. With Young helping lead the way, the Rangers have hit 46 home runs in their first 25 games. Only three teams in Major League history have hit more in the first 25 games: the 2000 Cardinals (55), 1997 Indians (49) and 2003 Yankees (48). "I really don't think about it," Young said. "I'm a line-drive hitter. That's what I've always been, and that's what I'll always be. But every once in a while I go through a period where they hang up a little longer." Young didn't hit his seventh home run in 2008 until his 81st game, and he finished with 12 on the season. In 2007, Young's seventh home run came on Aug. 14, and he had just nine that year. He had a combined slugging percentage of .410 in 2007-08, 200 points below where he is going into Tuesday's game. He had a career-low .402 slugging percentage last year, but was dealing with small fractures in the ring fingers on both hands for much of the season. Now he is healthy, and that's obviously makes a big difference. "It means a lot," Young said. "I feel my mechanics are good, because I'm physically fine. Like I said before, last year was a learning experience for me. At some point in my career -- maybe this year, maybe the next -- I'm going to play hurt again, and I've learned that I have to stay on top of my mechanics when I go out there banged up." As Young's power numbers have surged, one of his traditional strengths has sagged. He was 3-for-24 with runners in scoring position going into Tuesday's game. He has a career .332 batting average with runners in scoring position, including a .367 average in a five-year period between 2003-07.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.