ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The local baseball writers have voted Michael Young as the Texas Rangers' MVP four times, including after his best season in 2005.
He won the American League batting title that year, hitting .331, and launched a career-high 24 homers on a team that went deep a franchise-record 260 times.
The 2011 Rangers don't have that kind of pop, and neither does Young. But his value to the Rangers has never been greater as they've tried to overcome injuries to two of their top power hitters at various times this season.
Young has been the constant. He's also been the designated hitter, first baseman, second baseman and third baseman, while batting anywhere in the lineup from third to sixth.
And he has produced.
He's the clear front-runner to be the Rangers' MVP again this season, and his name will find its way onto the AL MVP ballots of two writers from each team at the end of the regular season.
Young's manager believes that the choice is clear.
"As far as I'm concerned he is the MVP," Ron Washington said Wednesday before the Rangers faced the Angels.
"He's certainly been the most valuable player for us. If we get lucky enough to hold on, maybe they [voters] will consider him. I'm more than certain he'll be one of the guys who's considered as an MVP."
The thing that matters most to Young is winning games, which the Rangers had done five straight times entering the third of four games at Angel Stadium.
Young had collected three hits in each of the past two games and was 9 for 21 with eight RBIs halfway through the 10-game road trip.
The only areas where Young isn't as proficient as others in the MVP picture is in power (10 homers) and runs scored (62). But he's got the other categories pretty much covered, and a second career batting title is within reach as Young sits eight points behind Boston first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.
Young has been at his best while Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre were injured. Young hit .331 with 26 RBIs in 35 games while Hamilton was out early in the season, and he was hitting .380 with 18 RBIs in the 22 games the Rangers had played since Beltre went on the disabled list.
But Young would rather get a World Series ring than an MVP plaque.
"Everyone wants to play a big role for their team," he said. "You want to take on a lot of responsibility. You want to know your teammates can count on you. When it's all said and done my goal as a player is to be known as a good teammate.
"But it starts and ends with winning. Sometimes individual accolades are great. At the same time, there's a time and a place to think about them. I'm pretty sure it's when you're drinking a beer and smoking a cigar and you're 50 years old."
Where Young separates himself from his teammates and what makes him an elite hitter is his mental approach. He debuted in 2000 and was a full-time player the next season, and along the way he has learned what it takes to stay on the field and perform when times are tough.
One of the toughest times of his career came with the off-season trade flap. While Young said that he didn't receive any extra motivation to perform, his teammates were impressed with how easily he put the situation behind him.
"Because of the circumstances with the way the season began and him being the player he's always been, it shows what kind of player he is and more about what kind of character he has," said Hamilton, the reigning AL MVP.
"When you get a taste of what he had last year in the playoffs, a player like Michael isn't satisfied. It's been fun to watch."
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760