ANAHEIM -- Michael Young has been an All-Star, batting champion and Gold Glove winner. Manager Ron Washington is starting to see him as something else. American League Most Valuable Player. "As far as I'm concerned he's the MVP, whether it's this team or the entire league," Washington said. "He's certainly the MVP on this team. I don't get a vote, but if I did, he'd get my vote. If we hold on to this lead, he should be a strong candidate."
Young will have some stiff competition going down to the end. Curtis Granderson of the Yankees, Adrian Gonzalez of the Red Sox and Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays certainly deserve strong consideration. Young went into Wednesday's game hitting .340, second best in the league. He was second in hits, tied for fourth in doubles and fifth with 85 RBIs. But Washington said Young's contributions go beyond sheer numbers. The Rangers lost Josh Hamilton for six weeks, they were without Nelson Cruz for two weeks in May and now Adrian Beltre (strained hamstring) isn't expected back until September. But Young has been able to hold together the middle of the lineup, hitting .330 in 53 games when asked to be the cleanup hitter. "He has really stepped up for us when we needed somebody in the fourth spot," Washington said. "He gives you great at-bats and battles for hits. He takes nothing for granted. I appreciate the way he goes about his business, I appreciate what he means to this team and I appreciate how he keeps the other guys engaged. He's pretty special." Young went into Wednesdayís game hitting .406 in his last 24 games. Washington thinks getting significant time at designated hitter earlier in the season has made Young stronger going down the stretch. "Michael can hit ... he won a batting title," Washington said. "But I feel his legs are stronger this year because he hasn't had the grind of staying on the field." He is getting into that grind now. With Beltre on the disabled list, Young started at third base on Wednesday for the 12th straight game.