Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Youk! Youk!

I voted once for MLB's All-Star Voting, but I can't seem to summon the enthusiasm to do it again. I discovered to my dismay that Kevin Youkilis, who's currently batting a robust .342, seventh in the majors, is not on the All-Star ballot. Despite the fact that outside of possibly Garko, Morneau, Teixeira, and maybe Swisher there is not a single first baseman in the American League worthy of consideration for this slot, the only way to vote for Youk is to write him in at the bottom of the ballot. And if I decide to do that, it means I can't vote for David Ortiz, which is something I don't feel comfortable doing either. So I'm stuck.

Maybe Red Sox fans could start a campaign voting Youkilis in as a second baseman, since there's no way Dustin Petroia's gonna make the club as a rookie. Then Youk and Ortiz could make the All-Star Team, and we'd have the added enjoyment of watching Youk try to turn a double play with Jeter after Bonds grounds to short in the first inning.

Alright, that's the plan. Let's do it.

But while I'm all in favor of letting Ortiz represent the Sox at the All-Star Game, it's hard to make the argument that Youk doesn't deserve to go. Let's take a look at price versus performance for AL first basemen this year. Keep in mind that fans across the country are accusing the Red Sox of being the Yankees, and wildly overpaying players in order to keep them around. I've ordered all the AL first basemen in accordance with their batting average, starting with the highest, Youk:

Kevin Youkilis (BOS): .342 BA, .956 OPS. He's 28 years old (the beginning of his baseball prime), and he'll make $424,500 this year.

Now, all of these players are between 26 and 32 years old, so assumably all of them are also in their prime, and are not being paid for their future potential but for their contributions right now. Also, this being first base and not an important defensive position like shortstop or catcher, being a good fielder doesn't count for much here. A first basemen in the American League needs a big bat, games are won with power rather than glovework. Now, find me a more appropriate All-Star in this lot and I will publicly eat crow about how Youk is the most appropriate All-Star choice, as well as baseball's best bargain.

Ryan Garko (CLE): .319 BA, .882 OPS. $383,100. A fantastic find by Cleveland. Do you realize he was never drafted? This is why absolutely nobody cares about the MLB draft.
Mark Teixeira (TEX):. 312 BA, .922 OPS. He'll make $9 million this year.
Nick Swisher (OAK): .287/.898. He'll make $400,000, which, after Youk and Garko, makes him the best bargain of this sorry lot. That's Beaneball for you, though, would you expect anything else? He'll be out of Oakland and in New York, LA, or St. Louis within two years. He's only 26, too.
Justin Morneau (MIN): .274/.884. He'll make 4.5 million this year.
Lyle Overbay (TOR): .255/.810. $1.35 million.
Aubrey Huff (BAL): .253/.672. He'll make $4 million this year.
Sean Casey (DET): .252/.620. $4 million. He's 32 years old, by the way.
Ty Wigginton (TB): .250/.713. He'll make $2.7 million this year.
Shea Hillenbrand (LAA): .237/.534. $6 million this year. By the way, having an OPS of .534 is really, really bad.
Paul Konerko (CWS): .214/.686. $12 million this year. ESPN has labeled Konerko "one of the year's biggest disappointments." Ouch.
Doug Mientkiewicz (NYY): .212/.646. $1.5 million. To be fair, because I like Mientkiewicz, he is an excellent defensive first basemen. But that's definitely not what the Yankees need right now.
Ryan Shealy (KC): .212/.625. $392,500.
Richie Sexton (SEA): .197/.633. $15.5 million. Yes, you read that correctly.

In addition to all of this, Youk is the strongest bat on the best team in baseball, and carrying the offense of a team on which their top two sluggers have yet to hit their stride. Now, tell me honestly: who else could you possibly vote for?

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At May 22, 2007 8:59 PM, Blogger Assistant Village Idiot said...

First base is supposed to be one of the hitting positions. The outside corners, 1st, 3rd, LF, and RF are supposed to be the easier-fielding, big hitter positions. 1st base is where hitters end up when they can't field other places but you still need their bat. Why are the AL fist basemen so soft?

Speculation: General managers might still think like the old days, when you could only afford to have one of those bad-fielding power hitters around. Now that there is a DH in the AL they put him there. They haven't really gotten comfortable having two of those guys yet, especially with interleague play.


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