5 Reasons Kevin Youkilis Will Be Instantly Beloved by New York Yankees Fans
FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal tweeted that the Yankees signed the free agent to a one-year deal worth $12 million.
To clarify on Youkilis and #Yankees: Two sides in agreement, one year, $12M. Deal almost certainly pending physical.—Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 11, 2012
Youkilis is a former Gold Glove winner, who can play either first or third. He has career 162-game averages of .283 batting with 23 home runs and 96 RBI.
Youkilis is coming off a down year in 2012, hitting a combined .235 with 19 home runs and 60 RBI between stints with Chicago and the Boston Red Sox. However, he will play a major role with the Yankees in 2013. He's replacing Alex Rodriguez, who is expected to miss at least the first half of the upcoming season due to offseason hip surgery.
Having spent the first eight-plus seasons of his career playing for the Yankees archrivals, New York fans have been used to booing Youkilis. However, once they see what the veteran brings to their team, he should quickly become a fan favorite.
Click through to see five reasons why Kevin Youkilis will be instantly loved by New York Yankee fans.
He's a Winner
Youkilis has a winning background that fits right into the Yankees culture of 27 World Series titles.
During his nine seasons in the majors, Youkilis’ teams won an average of 92 games per season and claimed two World Series.
Youkilis has been a major part of his teams’ success. He has been on four playoff teams and has played in 29 postseason games, hitting a combined .306 with six home runs and 17 RBI.
Having played in Boston and Chicago, Youkilis shouldn't be phased by the bright lights of New York and the high expectations traditionally placed on the Yankees.
The Yankees No Longer Have to Pitch to Him
Youkilis has epitomized the title of “Yankee Killer” during his career.
In 104 total games against New York, Youkilis has hit .300 with 13 home runs, 66 RBI, and a .915 OPS. The Yankees have also hit him with an astounding 17 pitches in those 104 games—or once every six games.
Being thrown at can be viewed as a form of respect in baseball. If that is true, the Yankees must really respect Youkilis.
Fortunately for the Yankees, they will no longer have to worry about getting Youk out.
He Rakes at Fenway Park
The Red Sox are one of the barriers the Yankees must overcome each season in their hunt for the playoffs.
Youkilis can be used as a certifiable weapon against his former team.
Every year the Yankees play nine regular season games at Fenway Park. With the AL East being decided by an average of three-and-a-half games over the past six seasons, each meeting has huge implications.
Youkilis has been a beast at Fenway Park during his career. He has taken advantage of the friendly confines,” posting a .304 batting average and .911 OPS. He also has 141 doubles in 491 career games in Boston, translating into a 162-game average of 47 two-baggers.
He Gets on Base
Although Youkilis has a .283 career batting average, he also finds other ways of getting on base besides hits.
Youk has more than lived up to his nickname of the "Greek God of Walks.” He has earned 531 free passes during his career, helping him to a .384 OBP, which is the 15th-highest mark among all active players.
Additionally, Youkilis has been hit by 99 pitches, placing him 75th all time in that category.
There is no doubt that he is an on-base machine, but some have disputed the labeling of Youkilis a god. The Boston Globe's Dan Shaughnessy wrote in his book, Reversing the Curse, how Youk’s former manager Terry Francona once said, “I've seen him in the shower. And he’s not a Greek God of anything.”
Youkilis may not be an actual god, but he does get on base, and that will be good enough for Yankees fans.
He Plays with Passion
Youkilis is one of the most passionate players in baseball. Earlier in his career he even took flak for violent outbursts he had in the dugout after bad at-bats.
This past season Bobby Valentine, then the manager of the Red Sox, angered many by calling out Youkilis’ commitment. ESPNBoston’s Gordon Edes reported that the manager appeared on WHDH-TV XTra before a game and said, “I don't think he's as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason.”
The quick response of Youkilis’ teammates spoke volumes of how they regarded the third baseman and his passion. None were more vocal than Dustin Pedroia:
I really don’t know what Bobby is trying to do. That’s not the way we go about our stuff around here. He’ll figure that out. The whole team is behind Youk. We have each other’s backs here.
Nothing speaks to Youkilis’ passion for the game better than this fan video that was shot in Fenway Park during his final at-bat as a member of the Red Sox. Many were sad to see him go, and it will be bittersweet to have him return in a Yankees uniform.
Once New York fans see the way Youkilis hustles and plays with a fire, it won’t be long before they too are chanting “Youk” before each of his at-bats.
Statistics via BaseballReference