ERIC YOUNG JR. TAKES OVER METS’ LEADOFF SPOT
Added by Guy Kipp on June 24, 2013.
The Mets are hoping Eric Young Jr can be the answer from the lead off spot. (Getty Images)
Since the last day of the 2011 season, when Jose Reyes dropped down a first-inning bunt and then fled the scene to protect his National League batting title, the New York Mets have been without a qualified leadoff hitter.
The departure of Reyes and Angel Pagan after the 2011 season also left the Mets painfully short on team speed.
But the acquisition last week of Eric Young Jr. from the Rockies in exchange for pitcher Collin McHugh (who pitched his best—and arguably only good—game against Colorado last year) suddenly provided the Mets with a player who can lead off, who can run as fast as Reyes or Pagan could, and who can play the outfield. Could the Mets have really killed three birds here with one stone?
Young’s lineage and career history are almost as intriguing as the possibilities he holds for the Mets the rest of this season. The switch-hitting 28-year-old is a career .262 hitter (with a borderline acceptable career .330 on-base percentage) who has 70 stolen bases in 317 games (that works out to 36 stolen bases in a 162-game season).
Young looks and plays much like his father, Eric Young Sr., who was a late-round draft pick of the Dodgers who had a substantial career in the 1990s with the Rockies. Eric Sr. played both baseball and football at Rutgers University. The family stayed in Middlesex County, N.J., as Eric Young Jr. grew up. He attended Piscataway High School during a time when it was producing an incredible number—for a public high school—of world-class athletes in different sports.
In Young’s senior season, he was a safety and a flanker on a 12-0 state championship football team whose secondary that season included Young and sophomores Kyle Wilson and Malcolm Jenkins, who are now both NFL starting defensive backs with the Jets and the Saints, respectively. The following spring, Young batted .473, starting at second base for a county championship baseball team that finished the season 19-3, meaning “EY Jr.” went 31-3 his senior season in football and baseball combined.
Young was headed to Villanova on a baseball scholarship, but was drafted by the Rockies in the 30th round in 2003. After playing a season at a junior college in Arizona, Young Jr. signed with Colorado in 2004 and made it to the majors five years later.
Young Jr. is coming off a great three-game series in Philadelphia, going 7-for-14 with three doubles against the Phillies and giving the Mets hope that the leadoff spot will be something the team doesn’t have to worry about treating like a flavor of the week experiment anymore.