Over the past two LA Angels seasons, only baseball’s greatest player, Mike Trout, baseball’s most interesting player, Shohei Ohtani and baseball’s favorite interpreter, Ohtani’s interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara have been bigger fan favorites for Halo fans than Eric Young Jr. EYJ’s hustle, grit and sparkplug attitude have made him have the fan base behind him every step of the way.
Although Young did a great job filling in for the LA Angels, when Mike Trout was on the disabled list in 2017, EYJ spent almost the entire 2018 season in the minors. Even when Angels everyday right fielder Kole Calhoun went on the DL, the Angels still turned to others to take his place. When backup outfielder Chris Young went on the DL, EYJ still wasn’t the one the Halos called upon. One experiment in the outfield after another failed and still, EYJ didn’t get the call he was hoping for. Young was stuck in Salt Lake City with the Angels Triple A affiliate and there wasn’t anything he could do.
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With the season coming near a close, Young finally got to pack up and head to Anaheim. When he arrived it wasn’t just to warm the bench. EYJ became an everyday player, just like the season before. This time though it wasn’t in centerfield in place of Trout but left field, in place of slugger Justin Upon. “It lets me know that all the hard work doesn’t go unnoticed ” Young said of his time in the minors this season.
“What level they have me on at the time, those are things I can’t control. I just go out there and play as hard as I can because I respect the game too much. Doesn’t really matter. When you pick a
uniform on, you’ve got to go out there and give it everything you’ve got. If its the minor leagues or the big leagues, by the time I’m done playing, I want to make sure I gave it everything I got and not have any regrets.”
With an attitude like that, you wish you could build your team around 25 Eric Young Juniors. However, the game isn’t about having personality and great character. It’s what you do between the lines that matters most. So what happens to EYJ in 2019? Does he stay with the Halos? Does he go elsewhere?
He is a free agent, so he could go elsewhere. He may want to go elsewhere too. The Angels are pretty well set in the outfield and have a pipeline of young, highly talented outfielders at every level. None more exciting than 2017’s first round pick and 10th overall, Jo Adell. He isn’t quite ready yet but he should be soon. Like mid 2019 season soon. He may even push Kole Calhoun out of the lineup. So what to do with the 4th outfielder position?
The Angels likely won’t want to spend a lot of money on a 4th outfielder because they have so many already in the system. Most of the young promising talent isn’t quite ready for the show every day. Eric Young Junior fit this perfectly. He is very capable, can play all three outfield positions, though he’s really more of a CF, LF guy. He will be a lost cost, high reward 4th option.
After two seasons of 1 year contracts, it doesn’t seem likely that EYJ will want to sign another with the same team. It seems to me like we’ve seen the last of him in a Halo uniform. If he chooses to return, the fan base will be happy. He will have a shot to earn the 4th outfielder position. If he doesn’t return, there is no doubt he will become to new fan favorite somewhere else. Everyone loves an underdog.