Saturday, March 12, 2011

2011 Position Preview: Third Base

I have been watching baseball for as long as I can remember. I am the youngest of four, so my brothers and father always had some games on, so I've seen the majority of the players of the last 15 years. I can definitively say that I have never seen a man sweat quite the way Kevin Youkilis does. While it is not his greatest skill, it fascinates me. The man sweats through his helmet! Seriously, when the season starts, pay attention to this, it's wild. Oh yeah, he's also the starting third baseman and one of the best hitters in the league.

Youkilis has been the Red Sox's first baseman since 2006, even winning a Gold Glove in 2007. However, with the addition of Adrian Gonzalez, along with the departure of Adrian Beltre, Youkilis has been asked to return to his natural position, third base, which he played in the minors and sporadically in the bigs. This is just one of the reasons the "Greek God of Walks" is a fan favorite around here. For a town that has basked in the glory of Belichick, versatility is a quality everyone admires. 

Youkilis is still going to be just as much of a force as ever, too. Coming into the year at the age of 31, he has a few more prime years left in him. Before last year's injury problems, Youkilis had finished the previous two years 3rd and 6th in the MVP voting, respectively. Last season was a very good one too. If you extended his stats to reflect what they would have been if he had played, say, 150 games, his final numbers would have looked like this:

.307 BA, .975 OPS, 28 HR, 91 RBI 4.3 WAR

These numbers would have surely been top 10-MVP worthy, but his health hindered that. Looking ahead to this year, he should have more protection with the addition of Gonzalez, and should have more RBI opportunities with the addition of Crawford. Without further ado, here are my predicitons for Youk.

.308 BA, 25 HR, 98 RBI, 89 R, .974 OPS, 5.1 WAR.

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