Michael Young is crushing the ball. That's nothing new. He's also playing flawlessly in the field. Again, nothing new. And last night he sparked a Texas Rangers' 4-3 victory over the Baltimore Orioles with first his bat, then his hustle.
Want something else not so new? We underappreciate him.
I've said for years that Dallas Mavericks' star Dirk Nowitzki is the most underrated/underappreciated player in our history. But Young isn't far behind him.
Leading off the 9th inning, Young smacks a ball up the middle that deflects off the shortstop's glove and dribbles into center field. From his first step out of the batter's box he never stops sprinting, sliding in safely with a single-turned-double that changed the entire tenor of the inning. Three batters later, he sprints home with the winning run on Nelson Cruz' sacrifice fly.
After the game, Cruz got dogpiled and Josh Hamilton got an interview-interrupting, whipped-cream salute from Elvis Andrus (I know, last time we saw Josh in whipped cream wasn't so joyous). And, as always, Young just sorta passively, humbly blended into the team.
He hits. He moves from shortstop to third seamlessly. He hits. He hustles. He plays hard even on crappy teams for more than a decade. He hits some more.
He deserves more credit. He is in good company:
10. Charles Haley, Dallas Cowboys - Missing link kick-started three Super Bowls in four years.
9. James Donaldson, Dallas Mavericks - By far the best center in franchise history.
8. Fergie Jenkins, Texas Rangers - 25 wins in 1974 can't even get him in the conversation with Nolan Ryan.
7. Erik Williams, Dallas Cowboys - Dominant lineman lives in shadows of Nate Newton, Larry Allen, etc.
6. Charlie Hough, Texas Rangers - Chain-smoking knuckleballer is team's all-time leading winner.
5. Ed Belfour, Dallas Stars - '99 Cup accolades usually go to Modano, Hull, etc.
4. Alex Rodriguez, Texas Rangers - Yeah I know. But his on-field performance was astounding.
3. Michael Young, Texas Rangers - Humble leader during horrible decade.
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2. Danny White, Dallas Cowboys - Three consecutive NFC Championship Games.
1. Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks - No title = No respect?