Youk Can Do It: Why Kevin Youkilis Should Have Won Final Vote
Before voting for this year's MLB All-Star Game, the Boston Red Sox were batting 1.000 in the Final Vote. Johnny Damon, Jason Varitek, and Hideki Okajima have all appeared on the ballot and all three made the team.
This year, the run came to an end. Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis lost out to Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher in his bid for a third straight All-Star appearance and will not fly to Anaheim for the Midsummer Classic. But he should be making that trip.
It was the closest result in the nine-year history of the Final Vote, but that will be of little consolation to Youk. Regardless of the method by which one quantifies baseball, he should have won.
For the sake of this argument, let's take out Michael and Delmon Young and Paul Konerko.
We'll start by taking a look at the basic, old-fashioned baseball statistics. Thankfully, both have appeared in almost the same number of games (Youk 81, Swisher 79), making the comparison easier.
Swisher has a slight edge in batting average. His .298 is six points higher than Youkilis'. He also leads in hits and singles, trails by one in doubles and by two in triples. That's where it starts to go downhill for the Yankee.
Youkilis has slugged 17 home runs, three more than Swisher. He has 14 more runs, seven more RBIs, 16 more walks, and 16 fewer strikeouts. His OBP is 33 points higher and his slugging percentage is 56 points higher.
How do they compare if you're a fan of sabermetrics? Youkilis is better in:
Isolated power, runs created, runs above average, weighted on base average, home run to fly ball ratio, win percent added, RE24, every contact stat, runs above replacement, wins above replacement, and UZR.
Swisher leads in line drive percentage.
How important is overall value to the team? Youk wins there, too, since he's one of only four Red Sox starters still healthy (although perhaps not for much longer; he left the game two days ago with ankle spasms). Take Swisher out of the Yankees lineup, and they're still winning the AL East.
It doesn't matter how you compare them. The fact is that Kevin Youkilis is having the better season. And it isn't even that close. Swisher is having an above-average year by his standards, but that shouldn't be enough. In this annual popularity contest, the most-followed baseball player on Twitter won. The public got it wrong.
On the National League side of things, however, the public got it right.
It was a cake walk for Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto, who eased into the All-Star Game with almost 14 million votes. That's five million more than Swisher.
That righted what could have been the biggest wrong in ASG history. Votto is having an MVP-caliber season. Not to have him in Anaheim would have been a travesty.
The voters gave Votto the recognition he deserved at the second time of asking. There was no such reward for Youkilis.
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