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Splitsville for Michael Young

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Michael Young is going to miss hitting in Texas far more than he realizes. (AP)

The news coming out of Texas about Michael Young's request for a trade isn't terribly relevant to the Yankees, even though they're one of the eight teams to which he'll reportedly allow one. The Yanks have even less room to give him playing time at the positions Young can conceivably play — first base, second base, third base and designated hitter — than the Rangers do, not to mention a bigger obstacle to overcome among DH alternatives, given that Jorge Posada remains a superior hitter to Mike Napoli. And it's not like the Bombers are going to pay Young some portion of $16 million to sit on the bench, or that he won't be as squawky in his new digs if that's the case as he's become in Texas.

Young's a lifetime .300 hitter, but for a lifetime .300 hitter, his production is relatively thin (.300/.347/.448) in that he doesn't have tremendous power or patience, and that he's largely a product of his ballpark. Young's career True Average is just .270, which is 10 points above the defined league average (.260), which is worth something, but not $16 million a year going forward for a guy whose defense is subpar. To be fair, he has delivered 3.0 and 3.2 WARP over the past two years while making that $16 million, and at an exchange rate of roughly $5 million per win, that's been nearly a break-even proposition, but going into his age 34 season, with his defensive value in decline (-16 FRAA at third base over the past two years) and likely to be further reduced by time at DH (since he won't accumulate Fielding Runs Above Replacement), he's no bargain.

Furthermore, a peek at Young's home/road splits suggests he's more likely to be hurt by the move from the Rangers Ballpark at Arlington than the average ballplayer. For his career, which at the major league level began in 2000, Young has hit a searing .322/.372/.487 in Texas, but just .279/.322/.411, a difference of 126 points of OPS. Using Fangraphs and some patience in Excel to collate the two sets of data, I attempted to figure out where such a differential ranked. Alas, Fangraphs' splits queries only go back to 2002, but even so, the point is clear: he's an outlier. Using an arbitrary cutoff of 1,500 plate appearances both home and away from that point onward, which creates a pool of 172 hitters, Young's differential ranks eighth, meaning he's in the 95th percentile in terms of how much help he's gotten from his home park. Here are the top and bottom 10s for that timespan:

Name             HmPA   HmAVG/OBP/SLG  HmOPS  RdPA   RdAVG/OBP/SLG  RdOPS   Dif
Matt Holliday 2190 .346/.419/.542 .961 2123 .289/.356/.403 .759 .202
Todd Helton 2758 .346/.452/.508 .960 2732 .292/.402/.385 .787 .174
Frank Thomas 1649 .266/.381/.539 .920 1553 .258/.375/.374 .748 .172
Juan Uribe 2217 .275/.320/.428 .748 2255 .231/.277/.318 .595 .153
Hank Blalock 1973 .292/.356/.454 .810 1955 .246/.301/.362 .663 .146
Paul Konerko 2702 .291/.375/.512 .887 2775 .269/.345/.405 .750 .137
Garrett Atkins 1586 .321/.380/.432 .812 1687 .252/.322/.353 .675 .137
Michael Young 3104 .326/.375/.432 .808 3172 .283/.326/.360 .686 .122
N Garciaparra 1691 .322/.371/.453 .824 1661 .272/.319/.383 .702 .122
Mark Teixeira 2648 .305/.390/.516 .907 2702 .267/.363/.426 .789 .117

Luis Gonzalez 1989 .272/.369/.384 .753 2027 .283/.375/.422 .797 -.045
C Granderson 1702 .261/.335/.418 .753 1722 .276/.347/.452 .799 -.046
Sean Casey 1732 .285/.349/.345 .694 1747 .308/.366/.381 .746 -.052
Carlos Beltran 2523 .274/.362/.423 .786 2730 .285/.369/.472 .841 -.055
Jacque Jones 1800 .272/.323/.370 .693 1774 .277/.329/.419 .748 -.056
Mike Cameron 2289 .239/.327/.377 .704 2469 .259/.347/.413 .761 -.056
Adrian Beltre 2684 .262/.315/.391 .706 2916 .290/.337/.432 .769 -.063
Jose Lopez 1752 .251/.282/.325 .607 1847 .280/.312/.361 .673 -.066
Casey Blake 2339 .256/.330/.350 .680 2410 .273/.343/.425 .767 -.087
Adrian Gonzalez 1749 .263/.360/.392 .752 1882 .303/.376/.499 .875 -.123

Both leaderboards contain some obvious names, players who've spent their years primarily in extreme hitters' parks or extreme pitchers' parks. Among the hitter-friendliest, Holliday, Helton and Atkins have played mainly in Colorado, Thomas, Uribe and Konerko mainly on the South Side of Chicago, Young, Blalock and Teixeira mainly in Texas. On the other side of the coin, Beltre spent most of his time hitting in Dodger Stadium and Safeco Field, Lopez at Safeco, Granderson in Comerica Park, and Adrian Gonzalez at Petco Park.

Among this pool of players, the aggregate home batting line was .285/.358/.409, while the average road line was .275/.344/.389, a difference of 34 points of OPS. Young's advantage was more than three times that, and more than double the 50-point standard deviation. Raise the bar to 2,000 PA in both splits and Young ranks fifth out of 87, at 2,500, he's third out of 37. Suffice it to say, over that timespan, few players have benefited as much from hitting in their home park as Michael Young has.

Of course, several Yankees current and past rank among the major beneficiaries, too. Teixeira you know; he spent most of his career in Texas, with brief stops in Atlanta and Anaheim before coming to New York. Bobby Abreu (.077 advantage), Derek Jeter (.074) and Alex Rodriguez (.072) rank 24th, 25th and 26th at the 1,500 PA level, Jorge Posada (.065) 38th, with Gary Sheffield (.048) 66th and Jason Giambi (.043) 71st, both much closer to the average differential but still favored by their parks. On the other hand, Hideki Matsui (.004) ranks 126th out of 172, with Robinson Cano (-.003) and Nick Swisher (-0.004) rank 136th and 137th.

Looking only at the past two years to cover NuYankee Stadium's advantage and using a 400 PA cutoff, Posada (.220) ranks seventh, Teixeira (.175) 15th, and Young (.160) in a virtual tie for 20th; the Rockies' Carlos Gonzales (.293) tops the list. At the other end of the scale, Swisher (-.071) ranks 178th out of 194, with Lopez (-.171) dead last, and Adrian Gonzalez (-.154) second-to-last. Why the Yankees' three switch-hitters should be at such opposite ends of the spectrum is a question for another day. Also: Gonzalez in Boston = look out.

As for Young, he can agitate for a trade all he want, and at some point the Rangers are likely to accommodate him. But unless he gets traded to the Rockies — a distinct possibility given the latter's second base situation and the recent talks between the two clubs — he's going to miss Texas far more than he realizes