SURPISE, AZ - FEBRUARY 27: Yorvit Torrealba #8 of the Texas Rangers tosses a bat away from his position during a spring training game against the Kansas City Royals at Surprise Stadium on February 27, 2011 in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)
Evan Grant has a blog post up at the DMN, looking at the issue of how many plate appearances Michael Young will lose in 2011, and ultimately figuring that Young will miss out on about 60, the result of hitting sixth in the lineup (primarily), rather than second.
The problem with this analysis, though, is that it assume that when Ron Washington says that Young is going to be playing everyday, that Washington means that Young is going to get the same sort of playing time he has his whole career, when Young has been averaging close to 160 games per season.
I simply don't think it is realistic to expect that Young is going to get 155 starts this year, though.
First of all, there's the fact that he's in a DH/utility role, and the Rangers have other players that they are going to want to get at bats at DH. Yes, when Josh Hamilton or David Murphy or Mike Napoli is DHing, there's a good chance Young is going to play in the field, but I can't imagine that he's going to be in the starting lineup every single time someone else fills in.
Secondly, you've got the issue of interleague play. When it comes time for Texas to play in National League parks, there's not going to be a DH. Again, I'm assuming that Young will get some starts at first base during that time, along with maybe a start at second base or third base, but my guess is he'll be on the bench in half the games in N.L. parks.
Third, though, is simply the fact that he's getting older. That means that he's not going to be as durable as in past years. That means he's going to be more prone to injury than in past years, making it more likely he'll miss a game for physical reasons. And it also means that he's not likely to be as good as he has been in past years...and if Young is posting a 750 OPS, it is going to be real hard to justify playing him 160 games while all your other starters end up having to ride the pine to make room for him.
We'll see what happens. Were I to guess, though, I'd set the over/under on games started by Young at somewhere around 140 or maybe 145 in 2011.