Chris Young’s Fatal Flaw

Last night, Dexter Fowler ran wild against the San Diego Padres, becoming just the 18th player in the last 55 years to steal at least five bases in a single game. The rookie sensation continues to demand that he be penciled into the line-up, as he now has a .416 wOBA through his first 62 plate appearances of the year. Even with a crowded outfield, the Rockies are going to have a hard time keeping Fowler out of the line-up.

However, this post isn’t about Fowler. This post is about Chris Young. The tall pitching one, not the hack-at-everything center field version. See, Young was on the mound for the Padres last night, and while he only lasted three innings, that was long enough for the Rockies to steal eight bases off of him.

Yes, the Rockies stole eight bases in three innings off of Young. They didn’t attempt a steal after he left the game. They weren’t running on the Padres catcher, Nick Hundley, who had to feel fairly helpless as he watched his CS% go through the floor. They were running on Young, who has one of the slowest deliveries to the plate in baseball history.

After last night’s track meet, opposing baserunners are now 14 for 14 in stolen base attempts off of Young this year. This isn’t new, though – in his career, Young has had 131 bases stolen off of him, and 13 runners have been gunned down while he was on the mound. That’s a 91% success rate.

It’s even worse if you look at recent history. Since the beginning of the 2007 season, opposing runners are 73 for 75 in stolen base attempts against Young. That’s a 97% (!) success rate.

Given this, it’s fairly obvious that teams aren’t running on Young enough. The breakeven rate of stealing a base is somewhere around 75%, and anything over 80% is certainly adding value. With a recent 97% success rate, it’s almost impossible that other managers aren’t leaving runs on the table by not running on Young more frequently.

The Rockies have some guys with speed, so they were able to execute a game plan that should be typical when Young takes the mound. Everyone short of David Ortiz should be stealing on practically pitch Young throws. Every baserunner he puts on should be thinking second base.

Quite simply, Young is worse at holding runners than anyone else in baseball is at any other skill. He’s historically awful, and opposing managers need to take a page from Clint Hurdle and make him pay for it.

Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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13 years ago

Blame Greg Maddux.