clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Moneyball Players: Where Are They Now? Kevin Youkilis Edition

Omar has no idea who Youkilis is. "Kevin Youkilis," says, Billy, as if that helps. "Omar, he's a nobody. He's just a fat Double-A third baseman." A fat Double-A third baseman who is the Greek god of walks. Who just happened to have hit into some power last year. Yes: the Greek god of walks was now hitting a few more home runs. Which is, of course, the true destiny of the Greek god of walks.

Kevin Youkilis was central to a specific chapter in the 2003 book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, by Michael Lewis, the movie version of which has just entered theaters. That's because Youkilis, the "fat Double-A third baseman," was just the kind of player that Oakland Athletics' general manager Billy Beane and his market-exploiting philosophy of the time adored. Youkilis had high on-base percentages, and, like Jason Giambi before him in Beane's mind, was expected to develop power that had to that point remained unseen, in part thanks to his patience and his ability to wear down pitchers, a la another friend of Red Sox Nation, Scott Hatteberg.

Youkilis did not end up in Montreal as part of the Cliff Floyd deal, only to be shipped off to Oakland after, and if you're a Red Sox fan, that's a good thing. Youkilis has been part of two championship teams in Boston, as he picked up 248 plate appearances in his rookie season of 2004, hitting .260/.367/.413 in his part-time role. He had much more impact on the 2007 squad, though, as the team's starting first baseman. Youkilis hit .288/.390/.569 and won a Gold Glove for his defense at the position -- the offense is what you'd expect from the Greek god of walks, but that's pretty good for a "fat Double-A third baseman."

Beane knew this, of course, and it's why he wanted Youkilis so bad. Luckily for the Red Sox, he remained, and has been one of the top hitters in the league since, despite underwhelming minor league figures: for his career, he's a .298/.442/.441 hitter on the farm, not exactly the stuff the very best sluggers in the game are made of -- except for when they pan out like Youk has, as he's hit .289/.391/.492 with walks in 13 percent of his plate appearances -- Greek god of walks, indeed.