Saturday, July 15, 2006

Kevin the Menace?

One of my colleagues (a Yankee fan) told me that Kevin Youkilis is one of the most hated players in baseball. He said that Youkilis is perceived as being arrogant and obnoxious.

Could it be that some resent Youkilis' attention in Moneyball, referred to as the Greek God of Walks? Coming into the season, you have something less than a household name in Kevin Youkilis.

First the stats. Coming into the season he had a .376 OBP, .411 SLG, and .787 OPS. Not bad for a young player, but not exactly anything to knock your socks off. One homer and nine RBI in 2005 doesn't exactly breed arrogance either. Recent slump aside, Youkilis is fourth among AL first basemen in OPS at .865, first in runs scored (60), seventh in RBI (44), and third in the Sabermetric tallies of runs created and runs created per 27 outs. Not too shabby for a guy not much above the minimum salary and in his first full season of everyday play.

From a fashion standpoint, I doubt Youkilis is getting high marks for either the shaved scalp or that patch of fur on his chin. I'd give him some style points for originality, but I don't think he's headed for a 'He Hate Me' moniker on his road uniform.

Well, a bit of Paul O'Neill lives in Youkilis, who seems unduly petulant after a called strike or an inning-ending pop out. Do you like your players to show some emotion, or do you want a whole team of Stepford Sox? I don't know if Youkilis has assassinated a water cooler yet, but unlike O'Neill, he prolly can't afford to. 6 for 41 in his last ten games with eight walks shouldn't be making Youkilis a happy camper, anyway.

Maybe Youkilis gave some sportswriter from the Bronx a Zidane-like head butt? Dunno, I think we would have heard about that.

There is an Internet reference to an incident where Youkilis is alleged to have refused some autographs after a game, using some inexcusable language. If true, it's hardly a character reference, yet also not grounds to rival Barry Bonds in the arrogance top 10. Who belongs there anyway?

For Youkilis' sake, I hope that he recovers his form, and learns to cope well with both success and failure, which is one of the Moneyball messages.

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