Sunday, June 9, 2013

1993 TOPPS FINEST: #34 KEVIN YOUNG


A CASE OF BEFORE AND AFTER.




THE LAST PIRATE TO SAY HE PLAYED FOR A WINNER.

DEFINING THE PLAYER

  • If you love connecting the dots, you'll enjoy analyzing the career arc of Kevin Young
  • After debuting with the Pirates in 1992 and never hitting more than six home runs or driving in more than 47 runs, he was released at the end of spring training in '96. 
  • Signed by the Royals in April and played 55 games, hitting eight home runs before they released him after the season.
  • Re-signed by the Pirates at the end of spring training '97 and enjoyed a breakout season of 18/74 and hitting .300 for the first time.
  • Followed that up in '98 with an even better season, notching career-highs in homers (27) and RBI (108) and hitting .270.
  • Signs the richest contract in Pirates' history in '99, $24 million over four years.
  • Averages .261/19/78 over the life of that deal before being released by the Pirates in '03, ending his career.
  • Named in the Mitchell Report in '07 as having purchased human growth hormone from convicted steroid dealer Kirk Radomski on two occasions.

DEFINING MOMENT

  • With the Pirates remaining on the cusp of contention in the NL Central, 4 1/2 games back of the Astros on Sept. 15, 1997, Young entered the game against the Expos as a defensive replacement in the eighth inning. Hampered by an injured thumb, Young came to bat in the bottom of the 10th for the first time since Aug. 2 and homered off Anthony Telford to give the Pirates a 5-4 victory. They moved to within 3 1/2 games of first but that's as close as they would get, finishing the season second with a 79-83 mark. That's the highest they've finished since and the most victories since last season.

DEFINING SEASON

  • In '99, Young batted .298 with 26 homers, 106 RBI and a .909 OPS in the first year of that four-year contract.

FIVE FINAL FACTS

  1. When released for the final time in '03, Young was the last active player on the '92 Pirates, the last year they finished with a winning record.
  2. An All-American at the University of Southern Mississippi, he was a seventh-round pick in the '90 draft by the Pirates.
  3. In his 12-year career, Young batted .258 with 144 home runs and 606 RBI.
  4. Had a career-high 5.5 WAR in '99, but posted negative WARs in  seven other seasons.
  5. Works as a coach for Protege Sports, a sports video training website.

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