2008 Projections: Kevin Youkilis

Kevin Youkilis is one of the little treasures that allowed the Red Sox to win the World Series last season. As a first baseman with not a whole lot of power, Youk’s praises were not sung nearly as much as they should have been. And as a third-year, minimum salary guy, he provided a 117 OPS+, a 31.1 VORP, extremely solid defense and a WARP1 of 7.0. Wow.

Youkilis is a very good hitter and an on-base machine. He posted a strong 2007 line of .288/.390/.453 at the dish, and does whatever it takes to get on. Youk was hit by a pitch 15 times last season, good for 9th most in the major leagues. He still crowds the plate as much as anybody in baseball, and showed a developing ability in the playoffs to turn on plate-in pitches and pull them hard to left field. Youkilis contributed in other ways, and in his second full season of playing at first base, shocked everyone by playing errorless ball for all of the 2007 regular season, a streak that started back in mid-2006. He did muff one ball in the playoffs, but STILL- this is a guy who no one expected this from. He’s developed himself into a really solid first baseman, and was even mentioned in Gold Glove talks. I don’t know that I’d call him “stellar” quite yet, but he’s excellent at the position for sure.

I’m encouraged by the strides I see Youkilis taking at the plate, but his 2nd half fade is starting to look habitual (.238/.356/.391 in 2007 and .258/.347/.381 in 2006). Youkilis had said that he worked on conditioning last offseason, and he’ll need to focus on it again, it looks like. To be fair, he played a lot of the second half hurt; nagging injuries will continue to be an issue for him in his career. Entering his year 29 season, I see his batting average taking a slight step back this season, but him maintaining his OBP numbers and maybe adding a little pop in 2008. I picture something like .275/.380/.470 with 18-20 HR and 80 RBI in just over 500 AB. Of course, these numbers will depend somewhat on where he ends up hitting in the order; should Julio Lugo or Jacoby Ellsbury command the leadoff role, I would expect Dustin Pedroia to move to bat second, and that would push Youkie to fifth or sixth in the order.

Projection comps:

Marcels:	.280/.360/.436	13HR	69RBI	493AB
Bill James:	.290/.399/.454	15HR	78RBI	518AB
CHONE:		.272/.382/.434	15HR	63RBI	518AB

One Response to 2008 Projections: Kevin Youkilis

  1. Pingback: 23-14: Sox take 3 of 4 in Detroit « Red Sox Talk

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