The LA Angels had many players miss time because of injury this year. For every player that went down, another one stepped up. While he wasn’t one of the best surprises, Eric Young Jr. was one of the most important.
The LA Angels season was as good as over when Mike Trout went down. However, the Angels offense received a major spark plug when Eric Young Jr. was called up following Trout’s injury. And while he did not put up career numbers on the season, he was the Angels heart and soul for a brief moment of time.
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Young Jr.’s year was miraculous for many reasons. 32 year old career minor leaguers do not often become key pieces to a major league team. However, for the 5’10 Young Jr., it was heart over height to the extreme.
Young Jr. and his wife, Victoria, also went through tragedy this offseason. They lost their infant son during the offseason. Young Jr. chose to use his tragic event as inspiration on the diamond. He wanted to inspire people as he played, and he went beyond that. He inspired an entire organization.
Young Jr. was solid enough throughout June. He hit .250 and had 14 runs and nine RBI’s. The Angels started playing with purpose when Young Jr. entered the lineup. He hustled, played hard, and left absolutely everything he had on the field.
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When Trout returned to the lineup, Young Jr. was sent back down to Triple-A Salt Lake City. He has resurfaced in September thanks to expanded rosters, but has been used mostly as a pinch runner since being recalled.
While he didn’t put together a phenomenal season and is not likely to be signed to any sort of luxurious deal this offseason, Young Jr. is one of the biggest reasons the Angels lasted 158 games as playoff contenders.
Young Jr. was the heartbeat of this Angels team in June. He was the glue that kept them together and winning games. There is no other player in the MLB who was a nicer surprise than Eric Young Jr. in 2017.