Though his time with the KC Royals was short, this pitcher found a way to make his mark in team history, and produce when the team needed him.
This time without baseball has allowed many to think back about past seasons of KC Royals baseball. Some likely think of further past times, while some may think about just last year. Either way, Royals baseball is on the minds of fans just hoping the team will soon be able to return to Kauffman Stadium and play live games.
Throughout a lot of this looking back, there has been a theme that remains fairly consistent, many are reminiscing on one of the greatest times in Royals history, the 2015 World Series. They were a team that wanted to prove they could win, and that they deserved to be the World Series Champions.
There are a lot of players to look at on that team, and many of them can still be seen around baseball today playing for various teams after mostly dispersing during the years that followed the Championship.
For this Flashback Friday, I wanted to take a look at a player that is a bit different from other flashbacks that have been done, Chris Young. Young is an interesting case in Royals history, as his time with the team is fairly short, and his time as a productive member of the team is honestly even shorter.
Chris Young will likely be remembered by Royals fans for years to come though, as he provided a utility type performance during the 2015 season, pitching where and when he was needed.
Young started his professional career when he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2000 from Princeton University. Young worked his way through the minor league system for Pittsburgh, Montreal, and the Texas Rangers, before finally receiving his call up or the Rangers in 2004.
He spent a few years with Texas before being traded to the San Diego Padres where he saw some of his best years as a pitcher. Young was granted free agency, and continued his career, seeing a few years with the New York Mets, the Washington Nationals, and the Seattle Mariners.
While Young had seen his share of decent seasons, he struggled with injury many times during his career and had started to see less and less playing time. In 2014 though, during his year with the Mariners, Young found a resurgence and it was enough to catch the eye of the Royals.
In 2015, Young signed with the Royals as a free agent. During this season, Young played an important role for the team. He pitched 123.1 innings, appearing in 34 games, 18 of them starts and holding an ERA of 3.06.
Young also saw time pitching in the postseason, providing both starts and relief appearances, and giving the Royals consistent and productive innings each time.
After the 2015 season, the Royals signed Young to a 2 year deal, which did not work out as hoped. Young managed 88.2 innings in 2019 but held an ERA of 6.19, and followed it up with a 7.50 in 2017 over 30 innings.
Young was released by the Royals and eventually signed a minor league contract with the Padres but was released a few months later.
In retirement, Young moved in a new direction within baseball, becoming the Vice President, On-Field Operations, Initiatives and Strategy in 2018, and shortly after in 2020 he was promoted to Senior Vice President, becoming the enforcer of discipline action and continuing to oversee the On-Filed Operations.
While Young’s time with the Royals may not be what some other flashbacks have been, he still played an important role in team history. Due to his short-lived time in Kansas City, you won’t see Young on many of the team’s all-time records lists, but you will see him somewhere that it counts, on the World Series Roster.
Young provided a veteran presence on the 2015 World Series team and showed that even after a long career of ups and downs he had something left. Young played both a starting and relief role in 2015 and was one of the key pieces of the pitching staff in allowing the Royals to succeed during the season, and win the World Series.
Chris Young may not have the records and service time with the Royals that some other players in team history have, but he provided for the team when needed and played an important role in securing the World Series title, and keeping fans Forever Royal.