Chris Young Confuses, Intrigues, Wins


As much as we aim to keep narratives and analysis separate, sometimes the two insist on intertwining themselves. The now-classic example of this is the 2012 AL MVP debate – what’s more “valuable,” the guy who had the best all-around season in years or the guy who hit three historic benchmarks all at once? Trout had analytics on his side, while Cabrera had the narrative of achievement. The whole debate cumulatively somehow became wrapped up in a “new school vs. old school” narrative, even though both sides agreed that both players were beyond great. But up there with Trout and Cabrera we have the emerging Chris Young narrative. It’s not that compelling, but tickle me compelled nonetheless.

After his gem yesterday afternoon, Young’s got a 3.30 ERA. To show for that he has -0.1 WAR, or the same amount of value accrued by Hector Noesi during his short time with the team this year. His FIP is 5.51, and that’s incredible considering his ERA. The gap between Young’s ERA and FIP is Fernando Abad‘s ERA. So if you take Young’s fielding independent-mark and subtract the ERA of a top reliever, you get Young’s fielding-dependent number.

This is to say, Young keeps getting results that are much, much better than you’d expect based on his walks, strikeouts, and homers. It’s still pretty easy to explain – high strand rate, low BABIP – but the longer this goes on the more desperate we become to identify which Chris Young is for real – the guy who’s second to Felix Hernandez on the team in wins or the guy who walks as many guys as he strikes out. It’s probably the latter – there’s hardly any reason it wouldn’t be the latter – but I for one keep finding myself looking for signs. Hey, he just struck out five guys in six and a third! That’s good! Maybe he’s good!

So, Chris Young. He’s been bad, but he’s also paid off for the Seattle Mariners. He lost his no-no with one out in the sixth, and finished the day having allowed two hits and three walks for a run. This was a good start, and not just by Chris Young standards. This was a strong, oft-dominant start against one of the league’s better offenses. This was kind of amazing, and exactly what we want to see more of going forward.

Robinson Cano went three for four with two RBI, leading the offense and keeping himself a step ahead of Ian Kinsler for second-highest average (.332) in the AL behind Victor Martinez. James Jones had a single, of course, and Michael Saunders smacked a hard triple to the corner that scored a run. The M’s scored five runs, and scoring runs is sweet. It was a nice win. Winning is always nice, but beating up on the Angels is always nicer than any other kind of win.

Fifty games down, and the Mariners are .500. They’ve been awesome at times and infuriating at others, and masked by that 25-25 record are an eight-game losing streak against mostly bottomfeeders and some outright dominance of LAA and some other top teams. The rotation went a while without one of it’s two ace pitchers, and has gotten next to nothing from two MLB-ready top pitching prospects. The starting shortstop fell off the face of the planet and the $240 million import has two home runs. Yet here are the M’s, hanging the hell in there. Paxton and Walker are back soon, and Stefen Romero won’t be the starting DH forever. Things are looking up, somehow.

Jered Weaver vs. Roenis Elias today. The game starts at 7:10, as games often do. A win brings the Mariners that much closer to the AL West pack and pulls Los Angeles that much further down. So hope for a win. Wins are good.

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