Monday, June 25, 2012

Kevin Youkilis' Legacy Is Nothing But Positive

Youk As We'll Remember Him (Jeff Haynes, Reuters)
In Moneyball (the book not the movie), Kevin Youkilis is the first college player targeted by Paul DePodesta's computer (an early version of Carmine). Billy Beane tries to force Expo's GM Omar Minaya into adding Youk (in AA at the time) to the deal that would send Cliff Floyd to the Red Sox. Beane would then scoop Youkilis from Montreal. The Oakland GM had always lusted after Youkilis and would have taken him in Round Three of the 2001 draft, except for the scouting troglodytes on his staff who blocked the move. So Beane tried the back-door approach. "He's just a fat AA third baseman", he told Minaya—knowing the real value of the kid her termed "The Greek God Of Walks". He never became an "A".

Instead, for nine years, Kevin Youkilis was an on-base machine for the Red Sox—grinding out intermitable at-bats while drenching the Fenway dirt with streams of sweat. In 953 games, he compiled an on-base percentage of .388 and an OPS of .875. He ended up walking 494 times, clouted 133 home runs and drove in 564 runs. In his best year, 2008, he hit .312, with 29 home runs and 115 RBIs. He finished third in the AL MVP voting—won by his buddy Dustin Pedroia. Not bad for a "fat AA third baseman".

But aside from the stats, it's the grit and passion we will always remember about Youk. There was no intensity gap with this guy, he was always churning at 110%. As he aged, this appraoch to the game may have contributed to his many trips to the DL—but it was all worth it. When he returns to Fenway Park on July 16th as a member of the Pale Hose, we can guarantee you that the fans of the Carmine Hose will let out a "YOOOOOUUUUUK!" like you have never heard before.