This October, when the Arizona Diamondbacks and Texas Rangers meet, Mike Hazen ’98 and Chris Young ’02 will go head-to-head on Major League Baseball’s (MLB) greatest stage: the World Series.
Hazen is the general manager (GM) of the Arizona Diamondbacks, while Young is the GM of the Texas Rangers. Although both teams experienced over 100 losses in 2021, Hazen and Young have orchestrated remarkable turnarounds over the past two years. According to Theo DeRosa and Andrew Simon of MLB.com, this is the first World Series in which two teams have simultaneously experienced turnarounds from 100-loss seasons to World Series berths in two years or less.
The similarities don’t end there. Although Arizona and Texas both suffered from up-and-down regular seasons, both teams secured a Wild Card berth for the playoffs and swept the first two rounds, before emerging victorious in a seven-game Championship Series. The Diamondbacks notably swept the 100-win Los Angeles Dodgers, while the Rangers swept the 99-win Tampa Bay Rays and 101-win Baltimore Orioles.
Hazen, selected in the 31st round of the 1998 draft by the San Diego Padres, was an excellent center fielder for the Princeton Tigers between 1994–1998. Over the course of his career with the Tigers, Hazen hit for a .333 average and a .487 slugging percentage with 10 home runs. The all-time Princeton stolen-base leader with 49, Hazen received Princeton’s Robert L. Peters Jr. ’42 Award in 2006 for “significant contributions to the game of baseball following his graduation.”
After a shoulder injury derailed his playing career, Hazen joined the then Cleveland Indians as an intern, ascending to assistant director of player development in 2004. Hazen then accepted a position as the Boston Red Sox’s director of player development in 2006, kickstarting a decade-long tenure in which the Red Sox won two World Series titles. After a year as GM for the Red Sox, the Diamondbacks hired Hazen as their GM and executive vice president in 2016. He has held this position ever since, leading a rebuild that saw the team rebound from a 110-loss season in 2021 to a World Series berth this season. Hazen’s acquisition of young talent through the draft — including Rookie of the Year favorite Corbin Carroll in 2019 — and through trades(standout starting pitcher Zac Gallen and closer Paul Sewald) proved crucial to the team’s rapid turnaround.
On the other side, the two-sport standout Chris Young arrived on campus just months after Hazen graduated in 1998. Young made an immediate impact on Princeton’s baseball and basketball teams, winning the Ivy League Rookie of the Year award in both sports. As a center for the basketball team and a starting pitcher for the baseball team, Young leveraged his 6-foot-10-inch frame to dominate both the court and the field. During his sophomore year, Young led the Tigers to an Ivy League title while pitching to a 1.82 ERA and 5–0 record. His impressive campaign caught the eyes of MLB scouts, and he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the third round of the MLB draft. Young agreed to terms with the Pirates on the condition that he be allowed to finish his degree in politics at Princeton, which he completed two years later.
After a successful 13-year career that included an MLB All-Star Game appearance in 2007, and a 2015 World Series title with the Kansas City Royals, Young set his sights on a career as a baseball executive. The former pitcher served in the MLB office from 2018 to 2020 before interviewing for multiple GM positions across the league. Young accepted a GM position with his hometown Texas Rangers in 2020, inheriting a team in the midst of a rebuild. An infusion of cash from the team’s ownership allowed Young to spend over $500 million on All-Star middle infielders Corey Seager and Marcus Semien, while shrewd moves like the acquisition of postseason hero Adolis Garcia turned the Rangers into a legitimate contender. These moves in addition to the debuts of rookies like Josh Jung and Evan Carter created a formidable Rangers lineup that has slugged its way through the 2023 playoffs.
The World Series will begin this Friday as Young’s Rangers host Hazen’s Diamondbacks in Arlington, Texas. As both Princeton alums are seeking their first title as GMs, the fruits of their remarkable work with their respective teams will be on full display over the next week. Regardless of the outcome, Princeton students and alumni will have something to cheer for when one of their own reaches the pinnacle of baseball and lifts the World Series trophy.
Joseph Uglialoro is a contributor to the Sports section of the ‘Prince.’
Andrew Park is a contributor to the Sports section of the 'Prince.'
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