A fan favorite to many a fan over his tenure in Boston, Kevin Youkilis has signed with the hated New York Yankees. The tale of Kevin Youkilis is a sad one, one of a greatly beloved and successful player from 2006-2010, who began to suffer from injuries and declined to a below average player, culminating in his trade to the White Sox for almost nothing.
Practically from his debut in 2004, Youkilis was beloved among Red Sox Nation. His quirky batting stance coupled with his hard-nosed attitude and great defense at first base led to the calls of “YOOOOUUUUK” every time he stepped to the plate. From 2007-2010, he averaged a .303/.401/.534 slash line while averaging a similarly impressive 23 home runs and 89 RBIs in 132 games per year.
His career immediately started to decline once he injured his wrist in July 2010. He was out for the year, a season where he was on pace to set career highs in home runs and RBIs. When he came back in 2011, he was just not the same player– batting just .258/.373/.459 with 17 home runs and 80 RBIs in 120 games. Youkilis was even worse in 2012, batting just .233/.315/.377 in 42 games for the Red Sox.
His unimpressive statistics along with the emergence of top prospect Will Middlebrooks led to his trade to the White Sox on June 22, 2012. He was slightly better upon joining the White Sox, batting .236/.346/.425 the rest of the way, but not nearly the player he was in his early years. Due to said early years, however, he did have a fair amount of value on the free agent market.
Youkilis is a versatile enough player to handle both corner infield positions and packs enough punch at the plate to be a valuable piece. If he can stay healthy, it’s not ridiculous to expect a 20 home run season. However, that’s a gargantuan “if.” Youkilis is not even close to being worth the 1 year/$12 million contract the Yankees signed him to, a deal making the Napoli and Victorino deals look like Rays’ signings.
“Youk” was always a favorite of mine in a Boston uniform. I hope that Red Sox fans are not so short-sighted that they boo Youkilis, as he was a useful player for several years. As long as he isn’t playing against the Red Sox, I’ll cheer for Youk, and it’ll sure he weird to play against him on Opening Day. I wish the man well in his future endeavors, as we can’t forget the business side of the game. Yankees fans ought to appreciate what they’re getting in Youk, one of the hardest playing athletes I’ve ever seen. When Youkilis travels to Boston in the future, he’ll always hear the occasional “YOOOUUUK” over his shoulder.