Monday, December 12, 2011

Season in Review: Kevin Youkilis


Preseason Predictions
.308 BA, 25 HR, 98 RBI, 89 R, .974 OPS, 5.1 fWAR

Actual Stats
.258 BA, 17 HR, 80 RBI, 60 R, .833 OPS, 3.7 fWAR

In 2011, Kevin Youkilis switched back to third base for the first time on a full-time basis since 2005. The transition may have been made a bit more difficult due to his age, as he graded out below average defensively, and he also missed 42 games due to injuries. Offensively, this was Youkilis' worst season since 2006, his first year playing on an everyday basis. The 32 year old's power clearly diminished this year, as his 17 homers and his .202 ISO were both the lowest marks since 2007. The ISO was quite alarming, as his past three seasons he had posted .257, .242, .257 ISOs, respectively. Youkilis also posted what was probably his worst triple slash line of his career, ending with rates of .258/.373/.459. One encouraging sign as we look ahead to next year is his low BABIP. Although .296 is right around the league average, Youkilis had consistently put up BABIPs above .320, and his career mark is .329. Because of this, Red Sox fans should expect a better triple-slash line from the Greek God of Walks in 2012. Speaking of walks, he did not diminish in that category, walking 13.2% of the time, which was exactly his rate in 2009 and 2010. One troubling sign that I saw last year was that he seemed to be putting the ball on the ground much more often than he previously ever had. Although his line drive rate increased back up to the 20% range it typically falls in (it fell to ~16% in 2010), his groundball rate rose to a career high 41.8%, which dropped his fly ball rate to 38.2%, a career low. This may explain his drop off in power, as his HR/FB ratio stayed consistent with his 2010 campaign. None of this is to say that Youkilis had a "bad" year; it just isn't what we expect out of him. His .366 wOBA and 126 wRC+ were both well above league average, but were also his lowest numbers since 2006.

Final Grade
Youkilis did not live up to expectations in 2011. He was still an above average hitter, but not the cleanup hitter in a potent lineup that he has been in years past. That, coupled with his slightly subpar defense and continued injury problems, forces me to give him a C for the season. But look for some improvement next year.

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