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For the first time in Kevin Youkilis’s career he is arbitration eligible. Three years ago when Youkilis got his first shot, there were a lot of people in sports who thought Youkilis may never see the majors. After a little support from the front office, the Red Sox now have one of the best defensive first baseman and a solid bat. After arbitration, Youkilis will probably see a raise to three million dollars for 2008.
Offense: Grade B
When you talk about Youkilis’s offense, it’s a tale of two halves. It’s been true every year in a Red Sox uniform. In his career pre-All Star break, Youkilis has a line of .306/.408/.472. After the All-Star break, Youkilis has a career line .244/.351/.384. Last year, pre-All Star he was .328/.419/.502 and post he was .238/.356/.391. So.. in the first half you say “oh my!” and in the second half you say “oh my…”. If Youkilis could ever maintain his energy all season he would be a great hitter. But we have to expect this will be a pattern for Youkilis. Avoid Youkilis in all fantasy aspects unless you can dish him off via trade. Youkilis’s biggest strength is his on-base skill. Tired or not, he still works counts and can get on base at an above average rate. He was 6th in the league in pitches per plate appearance (4.27). Youkilis also had the 24th highest OBP in baseball. He has one of the best eyes in baseball needless to say. In addition, his approach and swing at the plate help towards that. No matter what’s happening, you can depend on Youkilis to have a strong at-bat.
Defense: Grade A+
Best defensive first baseman in baseball? In the 2008 season, Youkilis could break the Major League record of 193 consecutive error-free games, held by Steve Garvey. In 2007, he won the 2007 Gold Glove award. He may not be the best but he is building that kind of resume. “I’m not worried about making the error. I’m worried about trying to help the team win and trying to get an out any way we can.”—Kevin Youkilis (Scout.com) Youkilis has very sure hands and quick reactions at 1B. He makes smart decisions and takes a quick route to balls. Youkilis may not have much range at 1st but who does there? His reactions are as quick as anyone and he gets to sharp hit balls. Youkilis is making a case for how much a very good first baseman helps the defense around him. There were a lot of Lowell, Lugo and Pedroia throws that might have gone wild with an average first baseman. His defense at 1st is a huge asset for Boston.
Baserunning: Grade C+
His best asset on the bases is his hustle and smarts. He rounds the bases as well as he can. He reads balls well off the Green Monster and gaps and takes the extra base aggressively. Overall he has below average speed. Youkilis doesn’t have stealing speed, but he stole four this past year so he can pick his spots. Even the year before in ’06 he had five. Decent totals, but don’t expect more. Youkilis isn’t getting any faster. If he can get 4-5 steals for a third year in a row, I won’t have any complaints.
Clubhouse Presence: Grade B
I’ve never read anything bad about Youkilis in the clubhouse. That’s one of the better things you can say. I will say that whenever you see Youkilis in the clubhouse he’s always enthusiastic. It’s got to help other guys keep going to see Kevin with so much energy. Even though all this excessive use of energy might lead to second half slumps, some guys get helped by it. Whenever someone has talked about Kevin, it has been to say something good. Overall, I’d say he’s a solid member of the clubhouse.
2008 Player Projection