Most great players have their signature statistic, a number that clearly defines their accomplishments on a baseball field, and hits have always served that function well for Young. He needed a couple of years to find himself as a hitter in the Major Leagues, but since his breakout season of 2003, Young has been known as an unrelenting hit machine.
That hit machine registered another significant milestone on Sunday, when Young recorded the 2,000th hit of his career in the Rangers' 5-3 victory over the Indians at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. He is the 21st active player to reach 2,000 hits.
"It's special, it really is special," Young said. "I'm just happy they came here at home in front of the fans. They have been through a lot with me, through good times and bad."
Young entered Sunday's game needing two hits to reach "MY2K," and did so with a pair of near-identical singles in the fifth and seventh innings off Indians starter Josh Tomlin. Both times Young hit a couple of slow bouncers up the third-base line that left Indians third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall with no play.
The Rangers were trailing, 3-0, in the seventh, and Young's 2,000th hit earned him a standing ovation from 37,431 fans who showed up in the summer heat.
"It would have been nice if No. 2,000 would have been 500 feet to the opposite field," Young said. "But at that point, we were losing, and I was just trying to get on base and get something started."
Even members of the Indians showed their appreciation. Young looked in the Indians' dugout and saw manager Manny Acta, third-base coach Steve Smith and first-base coach Sandy Alomar applauding. Smith once coached for the Rangers and Alomar played here in 2005. On the mound, Tomlin tipped his cap.
"I really appreciated that," Young said about Tomlin's gesture. "I felt bad for him, I didn't want him to have to wait a long time. He's trying to win a ballgame for his team, so I gave him the thumbs up and said 'Let's go.' But I really appreciated what he did."
Young's hits were just two of three singles mustered by the Rangers in seven innings against Tomlin. The Rangers trailed 3-0 into the eighth inning and were six outs away from having Young's latest milestone come on a losing note. Instead, the Rangers scored five runs. That allowed Young to savor 2,000 hits in an atmosphere of triumph.
"The win is huge ... it means everything," Young said. "Instead of coming into clubhouse with no music, guys showering and worrying about tomorrow ... everybody is feeling good about themselves. Everything revolves around team."
Young did not contribute to the rally. After the Rangers had scored five runs in the eighth, he batted with a runner on first and one out, and hit into a force play. That left him with 2,000 for his career and 152 on the season, second most in the American League. He is also second in the league in hitting with a .336 batting average.
Young, 34, also has 1,754 hits since the beginning of the 2003 season. That was his first 200-hit season, and since the beginning of 2003, he has more hits than any other Major League player except Ichiro Suzuki.
Young is the first Rangers player to reach 2,000 hits, and he is the 11th fastest player in history to reach the mark. He did it in his 1,621st game. Tris Speaker was the 10th fastest, doing it in 1,602 games, while Ted Williams did it in 1,638 games. Nine of the 10 ahead of him are in the Hall of Fame, with only Suzuki not there yet."It means something," Young said. "I understand that I got there quick and I'm happy about that. But I still look at the big picture, and the reason why I got here is I come to the ballpark every day prepared to play and do everything I can to help my team win."
He was asked if he had another 1,000 hits in him, which would almost certainly give him a huge boost toward eventual enshrinement in the Hall of Fame.
Said Young, "2,001 is my next goal."
Others see it as possible."I definitely see him getting another 1,000 hits in the next five or six years," manager Ron Washington said.
"If you can hit basically .310 every year and stay healthy, you're going to get 2,000 hits eventually," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "Eventually, you're going to get 3,000. We would love to see that, and we're all really happy for him."
Young's first hit came against Orioles pitcher Sidney Ponson on May 27, 2001, in Baltimore. Hit No. 1,000 came against Roy Halladay on July 4, 2006, against the Blue Jays. He has 32 hits off John Lackey and 236 off the Oakland Athletics, his most against one pitcher and one team.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less