Welcome to BP Boston’s second annual Roster Recap series. Over the next few months, we’ll be analyzing every player on Boston’s 40-man roster and many of their top prospects in order to provide a comprehensive overview of the Red Sox roster’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as what we can expect moving forward. From MVP-candidate right fielders to reserve relievers, we want to give you a look at every Red Sox who might matter in 2017. View the complete list of Roster Recaps here. Enjoy!
Last offseason, Chris Young was paid $13 million over two years to do one thing: wreak havoc on left-handed pitching. Good news, everyone! He did just that, and even produced against right-handers when starting in a pinch. Problem is, he didn’t do that enough, as an injury derailed him for a third of the season. Still, it’s encouraging to see a bench guy go above and beyond what the team needed him to be.
What Went Right in 2016
Well, he did what he was paid to do. Chris Young came onto this team with the idea that he would crush lefties, and he did just that. Young carried a .329/.410/.589 slash line against them, and did things like this on the regular:
When Brock Holt went down, Young was forced into a starting role, and he excelled, hitting .277/.348/.495 as a starter, and even cracked a .900 OPS by June.
Young only had 83 PA against lefties, but he made the most of them. He wasn’t great against right-handed pitching, but when the Red Sox needed him to start in left field full-time, he still ground out a .246/.319/.446 line against them, which isn’t too shabby if you’re looking for power. He only played for two-thirds of the season, but Young had his highest overall ISO since 2007 with a .222 mark, just eight points shy of his career high. When healthy, he could hit for power, but that healthy prerequisite became an issue.
What Went Wrong in 2016
His hamstring. Just to make us feel worse for him, it came right after he blasted a rocket into the Monster.
He would sit out for two months, and by then, Andrew Benintendi had taken over the starting left fielder job. He’d still get sporadic playing time, but he wouldn’t get close to how hot he was during his streak in May and June.
If I had to nitpick, I’d say his fielding was pretty forgettable, but the Red Sox signed the guy to, y’know, hit left-handers, not be a defensive whiz.
What To Expect in 2017
More of the same, really. Young might get fewer opportunities in the outfield with Benintendi being entrenched in left, but with both he and Jackie Bradley Jr. out there, Young could see some time against tough lefties or when either of them slump. The designated hitter spot opening up might give him a handful of extra plate appearances, but barring an injury to an outfielder or one of the first basemen, Young’s stuck as the fourth outfielder, and that’s not an insult to him at all. He’s perfect in that role.
He’s not readily expendable nor is he invaluable, but he does something very well that this team will need in the coming season.
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