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04/16/08 4:02 PM EST

Young pleased with approach at plate

Leadoff man laying off bad pitches, drawing more walks in '08

SAN FRANCISCO -- If you just looked at Chris Young's .228 batting average, you would think not much had changed for him at the plate since last year, when he hit .237.

But if you move a few columns over, you'll see how much improvement the second-year outfielder has made.

Young has drawn 10 walks this season. That puts him in the top 10 in the National League, but more importantly, it shows he's cut down on the amount of times he chases bad pitches. For a point of reference, he didn't get his 10th walk last season until June 22.

And it's those walks that have helped him improve his on-base percentage to .343, as opposed to the .295 he finished with last year. That's a key stat for someone hitting at the top of the order.

"Walks for me is huge," Young said. On-base percentage is huge. Not because of the numbers and all that, but because of the runs it allows me to score. That's what can lead to wins, and the more you're on base, the more you're going to score."

What Young is most proud of so far this year is his runs total. He led the NL with 14 runs scored heading into Wednesday's game against the Giants.

Oh, and did we mention that he was also at the top of the NL in home runs with five?

"My approach isn't about trying to get deep counts," Young said. "It's about getting a good pitch to hit. I think at times last year I was focusing on getting deep into counts, and I was passing up some pitches and falling behind. If the first pitch is a cookie, I'm going to swing. The goal is not to chase bad pitches."

As with most power hitters, there are strikeouts that go along with the homers. Young has struck out 18 times, which puts him in the top three in the NL, but as long as he keeps drawing those walks and hitting those home runs, all is well.

"He's a work in progress, but he's done a heck of a job this year in recognizing breaking balls," hitting coach Rick Schu said. "He's a marked man in some ways. Because he hit so many home runs on fastballs last year, he's seeing a lot more sliders and he's being more patient up there. The sky is the limit with this guy. He's improving all the time. For me, he's having very good at-bats even when he strikes out."

The strikeouts do, though, gnaw at Young, and he has adjusted his two-strike approach a bit.

"I have speed, so the more I put balls in play the better chance I've got to get on base," Young said. "Even if it's rolling over and bouncing a ground ball -- that can turn into a base hit for me. So with two strikes, I still focus on hitting a pitch hard, but I'm also focused on trying to make contact some way, because if I hit the ball on the ground, I've got a chance."

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.