Examining the first full season of Kevin Youkilis, I'm struck by the disparity between his Moneyball reputation and what actually transpired. At first base, Youkilis had question marks written all over him. Defensively, he proved to be more than adequate.
Offensively, at .279/.381/.429/.810 he proved to be, what? With 91 walks he finished seventh in the AL, and he was eighth in doubles, and tenth in times on base. With 100 runs scored, his thirteen homers and seventy-two RBI seemed adequate, as long as he was hitting leadoff or second.
Now for the issues. His home versus away OPS was .844 versus .774 and pre-All-Star game he was .874 and post .728. His leadoff OPS was .815 and his leadoff OBP was .385. Although he fanned 120 times, 68 came before the All-Star break.
He was tied for second in OBP as first baseball with Paul Konerko, behind Jason 'Juice Guy' Giambi, led 'qualified' AL first basemen in runs scored, but was eighth of eight first basemen in OPS.
The AL leader in Win Shares at first base was MVP Justin Morneau with 27, followed by Konerko at 23, and Youkilis at 22. With Bill James' threshold for 'All-Star' capability at 20, I'll bet the Sox were quietly pleased with Youkilis' overall production, second half notwithstanding. Was Youkilis worn down, injured, or both? Probably.
What do the Sox need from Youkilis? If they choose to hit him second, they'd like fewer strikeouts and a little more power. But his low salary and run scoring make him a valuable commodity at this point in the club's evolution. On the other hand, let's not forget who checks in at number seven in qualifying first sackers in OPS, Kevin Millar, at .811.