Source: #Yankees sign Youkilis, one year, $12M.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 11, 2012
The 33-year-old corner infielder has been a solid power option in the middle of the lineup in Boston and Chicago over the course of his career, hitting at least 17 home runs in each of the last six seasons. Youkilis will be going from two of the most hitter-friendly ballparks in baseball into one where there are short porches in both left and right field.
Looking at Youkilis’ career numbers at Yankee Stadium, New York may have been better off drafting him and letting him come up through their system instead of acquiring him so late in his career. The reason: the old Yankee Stadium versus the new Yankee Stadium.
Youkilis was significantly more productive at the old Yankee Stadium than he has been at the new Yankee Stadium. He hit .312/.437/.468 with 12 extra-base hits and 17 RBI in 31 games from 2004 through 2008 (the old Yankee Stadium). From 2009 through last season (new Yankee Stadium), Youkilis hit .233/.337/.397 with four extra-base hits and 15 RBI in 20 games.
Obviously the Yankees can’t go back in time so they’ll hope that Youkilis can transform his swing to fit the new Yankee Stadium even though there aren’t many major differences between the two ballparks.
Youkilis’ approach at the plate next season will also be looked at through a microscope. While his strikeout numbers have stayed relatively steady—averaging over 100 strikeouts when playing at least 120 games—his walk -rates have been up and down.
From 2005 through 2008, Youkilis’ walk rate dropped from 14.7 percent to 10 percent. He ended up raising it to an average of 13.2 percent from 2009 through 2011, but last year it went back to 10 percent. It is interesting to note that the two times his walk rate has touched 10 percent, he recorded an OPS of .958 (2008) and .745 (2012).
One possible explanation is Youkilis’ health. In 2008, Youkilis played in 145 games. Over the past two seasons he’s experienced lower back issues which may have altered his approach at the plate. In those seasons he’s missed nearly 100 games. Could his back have something to do with his walk rate? That’s definitely something to keep in mind when watching him in 2013; is his back healthy?
If he’s healthy, expect average to above-average numbers from Youkilis, but if he isn’t, Yankees fans will be looking to send him on the quickest train north to Boston.
2013 Predictions: .262/.365/.478, 18 HR, 79 RBI, 77 R