Kevin Youkilis retires...

Snodgrass'Muff

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For a four year stretch, he was a top 10 player in baseball. From 2007 through 2010 he had a 143 wRC+ (good for 9th in baseball for that stretch) and much better defense than his UZR would indicate. He had excellent hands at first, and great reactions to balls hit in his direction. The fact that he could offer passable defense at third gave the team an enormous amount of flexibility, as well. In the two year span over 2008 and 2009 he was tied for the 5th highest wRC+ with Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira and sat behind Lance Berkman, Joe Mauer, Manny Ramirez and Albert Pujols. The only player in that group I would be comfortable asserting was more valuable defensively was Mauer, and the only one I'd be comfortable betting on being more valuable overall is Pujols. Mauer probably was, due to his being a catcher, but I think you can make an argument for Youk.
 
He was criminally underrated by the national press and probably didn't get quite enough love from the hometown fans, either. I was torn about him being shown the door so the team could bet on Middlebrooks, and it turns out Middlebrooks wasn't the answer. Of course, one season later, Youk was toast as well, so holding onto him wouldn't have changed the prognosis of any future Sox teams by much, if at all.
 
It sucks that his career is finally over, but he got old quickly. He was an incredible player in his prime and I hope he gets a hero's welcome the next time he's at Fenway.
 

ItOnceWasMyLife

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Snodgrass'Muff said:
 and probably didn't get quite enough love from the hometown fans
 
I disagree.  I thought he was loved greatly.  Rarely has a player been more fun to watch.  He was an everyman as much as any major leaguer could be (outside of Nava maybe).  Youk cheers will resound through the stands of Fenway until the day she finally succums to the ravages of time.  What Red Sox fan could claim not to love him?  To me, if you couldn't root for Youk, you had no business calling yourself a fan. 
 
He will always be one of my favorites.  The only Sox player to ever put on pinstripes that I could still love.
 

InsideTheParker

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I think Youkilis got a lot of love at Fenway, or, at any rate, the fans loved shouting his name. He didn't get as much love on Sosh as he deserved, and I wonder if the Red Sox shortened his career by moving him from first to third.* But these things happen. 
 
Youk's long ABs and his plays as a  fielder spoke to his understanding of the game as well as to his hard work and talent. [SIZE=13.63636302948px]Youkilis has always been my favorite player. He still is.[/SIZE]
 
Love and kisses, Youk, and all the luck in the world,  ITP
 
(*typing while Seiji expressed the same thought)
 

snowmanny

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Here is the exclamation point on his 500/576/929 performance in the epic seven game 2007 ALCS
 
http://youtu.be/uOTnKoucxG0
 
Edit: 500/576/929  just wanted to say it twice
 

Flunky

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Another "but he's our asshole" retires. All of my MFY fans absolutely despised Youkilis. For that alone I will always love him.
 

brs3

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Youk is the only Red Sox player I've actually met, way back in 2005. He crashed my cousins wedding. When it came to meeting him, he reached his hand out and said, "hi, I'm Kevin.". I had had about 10 drinks by the time he arrived so my initial response was, "NO SHIT YOURE KEVIN!!". That became a bit of a mantra for me every time he had a big hit after then.

I felt the same way about moving him back to 3B. He was a lot of fun to watch.
 

JimD

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Flunky said:
Another "but he's our asshole" retires. All of my MFY fans absolutely despised Youkilis. For that alone I will always love him.
 
Same here.  My buddy at work who is a Yankee fan is one that I can generally have reasonable conversations with, but Youk drove him completely insane.  I'd get a rant from him every Monday morning after a weekend series about his helicopter bat-waving.  Good times ... :)
 

Doc Zero

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Saw his first major league game, son of a bitch hit a home run.

Thanks for the memories, ya prick.
 

SemperFidelisSox

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The final score doesn't reflect just how close Game 5 of the '07 ALCS really was. That was a 2-1 game going into the 7th. Youkilis had homered in the 1st inning to give them an early lead, then delivered the knock out blow to Sabathia with a triple in that 7th inning. We remember that as the Beckett game, but Youk came up huge too. He really was a force in that ALCS.
 

Frisbetarian

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I was fortunate to talk to Kevin back in the spring of 2011, and made the argument he was possibly the best player in the AL over the 3 seasons 2008 - 2011 in a Maple Street Press annual. I thought he was a very perceptive young man, and was exceptionally down to earth and really nice to a nobody (me). 
 
My article about him is still up on his agent's website if you're interested. 
 

Cumberland Blues

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TomBrunansky23 said:
Toronto right?  I was there too.  Pedro v. Halladay.  The entire bench ignored Youk when he got back to the dugout, then dogpiled on him. 
 
Yeah, I was at that game too and had a perfect view into the Sox dugout from my seat - Youk did ghost hi-5's w/ imaginary teammates when he realized what was happening, pretty funny.
 

JohntheBaptist

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pokey_reese said:
 
Thanks for this--he really does have one of the great baseball nicknames ever, no small thing.
 
You just knew every second watching him that he was getting the most out of his physical abilities he possibly could. That fact alone made him one of the most enjoyable players to watch in a Sox uniform. He was a fucking beast in the 07 LCS.
 

InsideTheParker

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pokey_reese said:
 
Frisbetarian said:
I was fortunate to talk to Kevin back in the spring of 2011, and made the argument he was possibly the best player in the AL over the 3 seasons 2008 - 2011 in a Maple Street Press annual. I thought he was a very perceptive young man, and was exceptionally down to earth and really nice to a nobody (me). 
 
My article about him is still up on his agent's website if you're interested. 
Thank you both for these great reads.
 

darnedsox

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Wiff and I were at that game too. I don't know what the hell I was looking at, but she says "that was his first home run! and nobody is congratulating him!!"
 

HriniakPosterChild

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I remember that they offered the young lady who caught Youkilis's home run ball a ball signed by Pedro in exchange, and she and her friend were a little confused about why they should do that: "Who's Pedro?"
 
 
THT: What were you thinking when you hit your first home run and got back to the dugout and everybody pretended nothing happened?
 
Youkilis: Well, Pedro… You know, my first at-bat, I just missed a pitch from hitting a home run. I just got under a ball just enough, popped it up, just missed the pitch. Game of inches, you know? If I get on top of it just a little bit more, I might have had a chance to hit a home run in my first at-bat.
 
But Pedro watches the game pretty well. He saw that and told me, “When you hit a home run your next at-bat, we’re going to give you the silent treatment.” I was like, “yeah, right. I’m not going to hit a home run.”
 
What do you know, I hit the ball and I knew it was gone right when I hit it. Spring around the bases and Crespo, the guy on deck, gave me a hug and I go back to the dugout and everybody was sitting in their seats, and I knew right then.
 
It was funny, and everything was going so quick. Everything happens so quick when your adrenaline’s up that high. That’s what happened. I just went with it. That was kind of like my introduction to just being a part of the team.
 
How I reacted, everyone always says, like the guys, that was great. That made me feel welcome to the team.
 
Hardball Times
 

Al Zarilla

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brs3 said:
Youk is the only Red Sox player I've actually met, way back in 2005. He crashed my cousins wedding. When it came to meeting him, he reached his hand out and said, "hi, I'm Kevin.". I had had about 10 drinks by the time he arrived so my initial response was, "NO SHIT YOURE KEVIN!!". That became a bit of a mantra for me every time he had a big hit after then.

 
Did he have a sweaty handshake? 
 
He was the one Red Sox player, during the years Fris points out, + or -, that I felt would most often get something done with runners on. Not strand a runner at third with less than 2 out, etc. I know, David Ortiz, but during some years, he could be had by a good lefty. Youkilis didn't fall off much at all vs. RHPs. 
 

Ted Cox 4 president

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(1) My daughter retrieved a ball Youk hit for a BP HR in the Monster seats. It was her birthday, and I mailed the ball to Youk c/o Fenway and asked him to sign it for her. Silence . . . Then, at the beginning of the following season, a package arrived. It was from Youk. He not only signed the ball, he wrote a note of explanation (the package had just turned up) and apologized for the long wait. Awesome.
 
(2) I was always fascinated by the way sweat would collect along the trim of his batting helmet and drip down. He sweated more profusely than anyone I've ever seen. Awesome in an entirely different way.
 

bigyazbread

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Papelbon's Poutine said:
While appreciating what he contributed and how good a player he was, I never liked him. The histrionics in the batter's box wore thin quickly for me. Thanks for everything Youk, but I wish they had traded you before you broke down and we had Beltre and Gonzo at the corners for the last four years.
 
Or...keeping the GG Youk at first, resign Adrian Beltre, and kept right on going...I'm in the camp that believes the move back to 3b led to his hastened exit from the game due to injury.
 
The myopic obsession the FO had for Gonzalez still confounds me (and don't get me started on Lugo!)
 

Smiling Joe Hesketh

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bigyazbread said:
 
Or...keeping the GG Youk at first, resign Adrian Beltre, and kept right on going...I'm in the camp that believes the move back to 3b led to his hastened exit from the game due to injury.
 
The myopic obsession the FO had for Gonzalez still confounds me (and don't get me started on Lugo!)
 
It's not hard to figure at all.
 
127, 126, 140, 162, 152.
 
Those are the OPS figures Gonzalez had in the 5 years before the trade to Boston. And then in his first year in Boston he put up a 155.  
 
Youkilis, despite his skills, was really never at that same high level (106, 117, 144, 146, 157, 123).
 
Gonzalez was a very, very good player when acquired, and had an excellent first year here. Trading away Gonzalez was the price the Sox had to pay to get rid of the bad Crawford and Beckett contracts.
 

trim

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Aug 19, 2005
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Andrew said:
According to that fangraphs artcile, Youkilis never swung at a 3-0 pitch. That's insane. 
Kevin Youkilis: 108 career plate appearances with a 3-0 count. 0 at bats, 108 walks.
J.D. Drew: 213 career plate appearances with a 3-0 count, 0 at bats, 213 walks.
 

AbbyNoho

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trim said:
Kevin Youkilis: 108 career plate appearances with a 3-0 count. 0 at bats, 108 walks.
J.D. Drew: 213 career plate appearances with a 3-0 count, 0 at bats, 213 walks.
 
This, if true, shows that they never made an out swinging at a 3-0 pitch, but it doesn't show what happened if the AB continued after swinging at (or taking) a 4th pitch strike and the AB continuing.
 
I don't know if there is a way to verify the "never swung 3-0" thing. 
 

WayBackVazquez

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Smiling Joe Hesketh said:
 
It's not hard to figure at all.
 
127, 126, 140, 162, 152.
 
Those are the OPS figures Gonzalez had in the 5 years before the trade to Boston. And then in his first year in Boston he put up a 155.  
 
Youkilis, despite his skills, was really never at that same high level (106, 117, 144, 146, 157, 123).
 
 
Well, he wasn't at that level of OPS+, but he was a better player from 2006-2010. OPS+ doesn't factor in that OBP is more important than SLG.
 
Fangraphs WAR and value in those years -
 
Youkilis: 2.6 ($9.8); 4.0 ($16.3); 6.0 ($26.9); 5.8 ($25.9); 4.0 ($16.1). Total 22.4 WAR ($95)
AGon:    3.3 ($12.2); 2.6 ($10.6); 3.4 ($15.2); 6.0 ($27.1); 4.5 ($18.1). Total 19.8 WAR ($71)
 
Youkilis had the edge in bref's oWAR in those years, 3-1-1, too.
 

trim

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Aug 19, 2005
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Andrew said:
 
This, if true, shows that they never made an out swinging at a 3-0 pitch, but it doesn't show what happened if the AB continued after swinging at (or taking) a 4th pitch strike and the AB continuing.
 
I don't know if there is a way to verify the "never swung 3-0" thing. 
 
You're right, we can't be absolutely certain they didn't swing (without consulting game logs) but if they did it couldn't have been that many times to go that many plate appearances with neither a hit nor an out.
 
Data from Youkilis' and Drew's career splits on bb-ref.com.