Sometimes, I am amazingly impressed by the Phillies Nation community with their knowledge. The one-off-references and jabs provided on here and on Twitter are shining examples of how Philadelphia has among the most dedicated fans in baseball. An off-handed Don Money comment on Twitter resulted in several responses. Money was the starting third baseman for the Phillies in 1972 that Mike Schmidt ended up replacing despite the fact that Money was a pretty decent hitter and excellent defender. There will be more on that one in the future.
Anyhow, in wading through old Phillies data on FanGraphs, I stumbled upon something that nobody has seemed to point out, something so big, so important, that I am now disappointed as a Phillies fan. No Phillies fan, to my knowledge, has yet made the joke that Michael Young is not the same Mike Young that played with the Phillies. I could be wrong, after all, the internet is a pretty big place, but I am genuinely disappointed at the lack of recall of Mike Young #1.
Maybe not disappointed; after all, disappointed is the word most parents use to make their children know they really, really are upset. The somber approach. I guess I am not so much disappointed as I am surprised that nobody recalled or made reference to the first Mike Young, the decent, pretty-good-sometimes-but-never-great outfielder who was the Phillies’ prize in the 1988 Rick Schu and Jeff Stone-to-Baltimore trade.
Young’s time in Philadelphia was so brief that it was easy to miss him. Young wore what would be John Kruk‘s 19 and hit .226/.343/.342 in 175 PA through August 1988 as a Phillie. Young had shown a brief flash of great potential in his age 24 and 25 seasons with the Orioles, posting 2.6 and 3.6 fWAR seasons in 1984 and 1985 respectively. By 1987, Young’s power was zapped and his OBP had decreased to .328. Young obviously was not the player that he was in 1985 for the Phillies in 1988 but it was worth the risk to swap for Stone, whose never-reached potential put him on many-a-Phillie fans’ despised list, and Schu, a 26-year old reserve third baseman who played just above replacement-level in his first go-round in Philadelphia.
Young’s contributions to the team were small, one of many small contributions to one of the worst Phillies’ teams of not only that era but of all time. The 1988 Phils under Lee Elia went just 65-96, a 14.5 game drop-off from 1987′s record. Amazingly, this was not good enough for last place in all of the National League – that mark belonged to the Braves, who went 54-106, good enough for the league to ignore two rained out games.
With the internet being as big and vast as it is, I’m sure someone had made the connection, either via a joke or some sort of Tweet. Personally, with all of the folks making the “Phillies just keep getting older joke”, I would have went the “Phillies are getting so old, they picked up a 52 year-old outfielder” route, but that’s just me.