Michael Young’s walk rate is bad. Unlike Delmon Young’s, though, it’s not atrocious. And I think it’s more reasonable to expect Michael Young’s walk rate to significantly improve in 2013 than it is to expect Delmon’s to improve. And it’s definitely more likely we’ll see Michael Young’s walk rate approach league average than it is to see Delmon’s.

In 2000, Young got two plate appearances and didn’t walk in either of them. He made his debut pinch-running for Pedro Valdes with two outs in the top of the ninth and his Rangers down 7-5 on September 29, 2000. The next day he entered in the sixth inning and went 0-for-2 in the game. Scott Service struck him out swinging in his first career at-bat and lefty Todd Belitz got him on a fly ball to deep left to end the game. The A’s beat Young’s Rangers 23-2 that day.

The table below shows Michael Young’s walk rates overall and against lefties and righties in every year since 2000. It also shows the average MLB walk rate for that season:

Year MLB AVG BB% BB% vs L vs R
2001 8.5 6.1 7.4 5.6
2002 8.7 6.5 5.5 6.8
2003 8.5 5.0 3.8 5.6
2004 8.6 6.0 8.3 5.1
2005 8.2 7.9 8.9 7.6
2006 8.4 6.4 8.2 5.8
2007 8.5 6.8 7.7 6.5
2008 8.7 7.8 8.9 7.4
2009 8.9 7.9 11.8 6.4
2010 8.5 7.0 8.4 6.4
2011 8.1 6.8 6.5 6.9
2012 8.0 5.1 6.0 4.8
Career - 6.6 7.6 6.3

So Young has failed to match the NL walk rate for any year of his career. That’s less than ideal. The best offensive year of his career is 2005 and it’s also the year he came the closest. He hit .331 for the Rangers that season with 24 home runs, but walked in just 58 of his 732 plate appearances. There were 150 players across both leagues in 2005 with at last 500 plate appearances and Young’s walk rate among those was in the middle of the pack. 7.9% put him at 84th among the 150.

In 2012, Young’s walk rate was 5.1%, which is the worst mark of his career other than 2003. His walk rate against righties of 4.8% was the worst for his career and his 6.0% walk rate against lefties was the worst it had been since 2003.

His walk rate against lefties was down, but it’s the walk rate against righties that really hammered him in 2012.

From 2003 to 2010, Young’s walk rate against lefties ranged from 7.7% to 11.8% and averaged 8.9%. That dropped way off in 2011, down to 6.5%, and dropped again down to 6.0% in 2012.

The bigger drop, though, was against right-handed pitching. Coming into 2012, Young’s walk percentage against rigties over the last five seasons had ranged from 6.4% to 7.4% with an average of 6.7%. In ’12, that plummeted all the way to 4.8%.

As I pointed out in this post, the right-handed Michael Young was simply atrocious against righties in 2012, hitting 277/312/370 with a wOBA of .280. That’s coming off of a 2011 in which he hit 330/373/465 against righties with a wOBA of .363.

Bottom line is that Michael Young has been way better at hitting righties (and walking against them) over his career than he was in 2012, as evidenced by his career 297/341/435 line and .340 wOBA against righties. And it’s not like he’s been undergoing a consistent and gradual decline against right-handed pitching. His drop from 2011 to 2012 against righties was dramatic. If he doesn’t improve against righties relative to his 2012 numbers, his career, at least as an everyday player, is just about over. But there’s also reason to believe that his chances of bouncing back against righties in 2013 are good.

Todd Zolecki takes a guess at the batting order for the Phillies here. It goes:

  1. Rollins (SS)
  2. M Young (3B)
  3. Utley (2B)
  4. Howard (1B)
  5. D Young (RF)
  6. Brown/Ruf/Mayberry (LF)
  7. Kratz (C)
  8. Revere (CF)

The Phillies are really going to have to start Delmon Young in right field before I’m willing to believe they think he should be playng there. I think Michael Young will hit lower than that and the left-handed Revere will hit higher, at least against right-handed pitching — he stole 40 bases last year and I don’t think the Phillies want him doing that in front of the pitcher in 2013.

If Domonic Brown is healthy on Opening Day and not in the starting lineup against a righty, I will be very surprised.

Here’s my guess for Opening Day, in which the Phils seem likely to face righty Tim Hudson:

  1. Rollins (SS)
  2. Revere (CF)
  3. Utley (2B)
  4. M Young (3B)
  5. Howard (1B)
  6. D Young (LF)
  7. Brown (RF)
  8. Kratz (C)

Biggest thing there is that Utley and Howard and not hitting 3/4 in the order. Howard is fifth with the righty Michael Young splitting the lefties Utley and Howard. Would the Phillies really hit Ryan Howard fifth? Against a righty? On Opening Day? I think they should. If they don’t on Opening Day, I think they will before long. When’s the last time Howard started a game hitting anywhere but cleanup in the order? June 29, 2008 against the Rangers in a DH game. Utley third, Burrell fourth, Howard fifth and Dobbs the DH sixth. Burrell breaking up the lefties Utley and Howard. Howard hit fifth in four games in ’08, all DH games — 6/25, 6/27, 6/28 and 6/29.

They’re all DH games for the Phillies in 2013 given they’re an NL team with three of them. Howard is just about a lock to be awful defensively. Both of the Youngs started more games at DH in 2012 than any other position.

Michael Young hitting cleanup against a righty to break up Utley and Howard isn’t exactly ideal, given that he’s right-handed and hit 257/291/352 against right-handed pitching in 2012.

I could easily see another catcher, like Quintero, starting instead of Kratz. I think it makes sense to hit Brown ahead of Young against a righty, but would guess that the Phillies do it the other way around. It seems to me like Revere will likely hit at the bottom of the lineup against left-handed pitching. I’d guess he hits higher against righties.