Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers rookie first baseman Mike Olt (9) at bat in the third inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Rangers Ballpark. This game was Olt's first in the majors. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE
Mike Olt is up for the Rangers, hoping to justify their faith in keeping him through the deadline. So far, he isn't getting much of a chance.
About two weeks ago, I wrote an article titled "Mike Olt and the Youkilising of Michael Young". The premise was simple: Mike Olt was up, Michael Young was ice cold, and the former was going to steal at-bats from the latter. There would be different permutations, of course. It wasn't going to be a straight swap. But Young would be the most affected.
The key piece of logic behind the argument:
Olt is a 23-year-old prospect, a former first-round pick, and he's been destroying AA this year. The Rangers aren't bringing him up to hang out at the end of the bench and soak everything in. He's coming up to play.
It was a stupid article.
I'm not going to say it's my stupidest Rangers-related article of the year, because I'm sure I doubled down on some stupid when it came to Roy Oswalt. I don't even want to check. But it was still stupid to think Olt was going to walk in and take Michael Young's job, more or less.
Olt is hitting .300 in his call-up. He has a .400 on-base percentage. Looks like things are going ... wait, there's other columns. Five out of 11 games. Four starts, in three of which he was pulled for a defensive replacement or switch-hitter in the later innings, which leaves Olt with 10 at-bats since coming up. He's out of the lineup Tuesday night, too.
Olt isn't the only one who can't crack the starting lineup. Craig Gentry is hitting .326 this season, with a .396 OBP, 11 stolen bases, and a good defensive reputation. Now, that's probably not his true talent level, so maybe the Rangers are right to be a little skeptical of him as an everyday player. But when he's played this year, he's been productive. Most managers would be thrilled to go with such a hot hand, were one available.
Michael Young keeps playing, though. After Olt's call-up, Young had a pair of two-hit games and a three-hit game, hitting .279/.340/.326, with more walks than he had in the month of May. So it's not as if manager Ron Washington is crazy. He's been waiting for Young to get back to his old self and, except for the vanishing power, that's what Young looks like.
Lest you think this is your garden-variety, pick-on-the-stupid-manager-because-he-prefers-a-veteran article, I can almost see the argument for Young. Of all three players -- Olt, Genry, and Young -- only one of them has been a player worth two or more wins according to Baseball Reference in seven out of the last eight seasons. That isn't an argument that should make you drop the mike and walk off stage, but it has meaning for a team in win-now mode. Young isn't, say, Brad Hawpe or Jack Cust, who you're hoping will rediscover what they had two or three years ago. Young was quite good last year.
Pretty sure I'd still play Olt. At least, I'd work him into the lineup shuffle more.
But I've learned my lesson: When predicting the playing time of a freshly promoted prospect, check with the manager first. He might have other ideas. Jon Daniels promoted Olt, but Washington gets to decide how he's used. So far, he isn't being used much at all.