Pity Kevin Youkilis.
No, seriously. Although he’s loved by millions of Red Sox fans who have created their own chant for him, Youkilis is largely underappreciated across the rest of the game, known mostly as the answer to a trivia question (Moneyball’s Greek God of Walks).
When pundits discuss Youkilis, they note his gaudy OBP numbers and his ability to eat up pitchers, but they dismiss him as light on power, and even Baseball Prospectus sniffs that he was less valuable at his position offensively than Kevin Millar last season.
When discussing the Red Sox’ chances this season, many seemed to discuss Youkilis as having already attained his ceiling, despite the fact that 2006 was his first full season, one in which he battled minor injuries to help the team shoulder through more significant ones. Needless to say, we’re not surprised that Youk is again lighting up AL (and NL) pitchers.
Entering tonight’s game, Youkilis is raking with a .340/.429/.519 line, good for a 152 OPS+. If he keeps that up, he’ll hit 24 homers with 95 RBI — granted, more than even his most loyal supporters would project. His batting average is 41 points higher than the next-best first baseman, Texas’ Mark Teixiera, and his OBP is 22 points higher than Nick Swisher’s. Even his slugging, arguably Youkilis’ weak point, is fourth among AL first basemen, making his OPS of .948 a whopping 36 points better than any other AL first baseman.
Despite being clearly the best first baseman in the American League thus far, Kevin Youkilis has no chance to make the All-Star team as a starter, victimized for the second straight year by the game being held in a National League park. David Ortiz is the club’s selection at first. Youkilis can only be written in. To make it worse, one must vote either for a listed candidate or write in a candidate for that position — no double dipping.
It’s pretty terrible luck. In fact, the only worse thing I could imagine would be if he were playing for the Yankees (zing!).
I never thought I would say this, but I’m starting a campaign — don’t vote for David Ortiz. He doesn’t play first (YFs never fail to remind us of this), and he’s a lock to be selected as a reserve if he isn’t voted in by the fans. Vote for Youkilis. Even Yankee fans should be able to agree — he’s deserving (and who are you going to vote for, really? Doug Mientkewicz? Are you serious?), he’s likable, and that gotee is a monument to good old-fashioned testosterone.
I don’t doubt my campaign will fail. Youkilis is up against All-Star worthy candidates from the Sox at both positions he plays: first (Ortiz) and third (Mike Lowell). But it’s worth a shot. Write in Kevin Youkilis on your ballots.