With all the big names in the American League, not many are having spectacular seasons. Don't get me wrong, someone like A-Rod is still putting up huge numbers despite missing three weeks, and Jermaine Dye is having a great bounce-back season. However, this season has been more about the surprise players. The best example of that would be Josh Hamilton. By now we all know his story as ESPN has drilled it into our minds.
There is one guy though, who has far exceeded expectations, he is an All-Star, a Gold Glove winner, and should be this year's A.L. MVP. This man's name is Kevin Youkilis. He was the most underrated player in the American League until he finally got the chance to prove it by starting at first base in the All Star Game.
Youk is without a doubt, the most important part of the Red Sox lineup. He has hit all over, going from the two-spot down to the number six-spot and everywhere in between. Many players do not like to be shuffled around claiming that it distracts them.
Youk does not mind at all. He wants to be put in whatever spot the team needs him to be in. Youkilis just wants what is best for the team and just wants to help the Sox win. Since the trade of Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers, Youk has hit in the clean-up spot and has flourished there. Many pitchers are not giving David Ortiz anything to hit, thinking that Youk will be a lot easier to pitch to; big mistake.
Since the trade of Ramirez, Ortiz has only hit three home runs, while batting an abysmal .237, and has a mediocre OBP of .376. Youk on the other hand is hitting .358, with six home runs, and has an OBP of .409. Ortiz is clearly struggling without Manny in the lineup, but Youkilis is finally getting to show what he can really do. By the way, this guy can play defense too!
A Gold Glove winner last year, Youkilis could win the award for the second straight year this season. He is one of, if not the best defensive first basemen in the majors. He also filled in nicely at third base when Mike Lowell went on the disabled list earlier in the season. He has also played a couple games in the outfield this year as well.
Let's see how he ranks among the other American League hitters:
He is tied for fourth in the AL in batting average with .318. He is 11th in the AL in home runs with 24, not the best but remember, Ichiro won AL MVP and he doesn't hit many. He ranks seventh in the AL with 89 RBI. Youk ranks ninth in doubles with 34 and 10th in OBP with .383.
I know that some of these numbers do not scream out MVP, but where would the Sox be without him? The MVP award is for the "most valuable player," and he is the most valuable player for the Red Sox. I do not believe a player should be able to win an MVP if his team is not at least in contention for the playoffs. The reason is that, with or without him, they would still be terrible. So, sorry Josh Hamilton, you have a great story but no MVP for you.
If you think this is a biased opinion, well think again because I am a Yankee fan. I just understand that with all the injuries the Red Sox have had, they are still in contention because of this man. He has done whatever they have needed him to do and he is having a career year. He is putting up these great numbers and has that "must win" attitude all while making only $4 million this season. Here's to the man that should be this year's AL MVP: Kevin Youkilis.