This writer has never been a member of the Kevin Youkilis fan club. But whether you like a player or not, you have to respect and admire the Boston first baseman's game. The guy is probably the most valuable player on that team. He's always on base, when he doesn't walk, he crushes the ball to all fields, he drives in runs, he plays good defense. He is consistent day in and day out. But he lost the fan vote for the final spot in the All Star vote to Nick Swisher.
Now, Swisher is having a fine season. He is one of the most valuable Yankees with his attitude, his hard work and his penchant for getting on base. But the numbers don't add up for him getting the nod over Youkilis. Youkilis currently has a WAR (wins over replacement) of 3.3. Swisher's sits at 2.8. Both valuable, but easily shown that Youkilis is more valuable. Many would also argue that Konerko should have been ahead of Swisher too. But Swisher is ahead of Konerko in WAR.
Youkilis has a problem. He is a first baseman. There are more valuable slugging first basemen than at any other position. The American League has Teixeira, Cabrera, Konerko, Morneau and Billy Butler. The Nationals League has Pujols, Votto (who thankfully was voted in), Adrian Gonzalez, Aubrey Huff (having a great year), Adam Dunn, Ryan Howard, Lance Berkman and Gaby Sanchez. It's easy for Youkilis to get lost in that shuffle.
But for his worth to the Red Sox and his consistency from year to year, Youkilis stands out. His WAR is currently tied for fourth among all major league first basemen. That's pretty exciting considering the list just put out there for you. And of that long list just mentioned, only four of those guys are the most important members of their team. Youkilis would be the fifth. Look at the Red Sox and tell this writer who is more important to the Red Sox than Youkilis? Nobody.
Is Swisher the most important member of his team? Uh...no. An important member, you betcha. But not THE most important. And Youkilis and his WAR are a little suspect in this writer's mind. He gets little love in the stats for his glove. Morneau gets more props for his glove than Youkilis and this Fan can't see that. It's too bad that the fielding stats are so hard to tangibly touch (like batting stats) where you can see it and breathe it. Fielding stats are nebulous and you have to take the compiler's word for it. But Youkilis seems like a better fielder than he is given credit for.
And one other thing. Youkilis, now 31, is actually getting better at the plate. His wOBA of .422 this year is the best of his career. He is fully matured and knows what he is doing at the plate. It's too bad the fans don't know what they are doing at the polls