Stats & Info: Kevin Youkilis

5 stats to know: Red Sox vs Yankees

June, 2, 2013
6/02/13
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Five stats you’ll likely hear quite a bit more about on tonight’s "Sunday Night Baseball" matchup between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.

1-- Since the start of the 2010 season, the Yankees lead the series 30-29. Head-to-head, the Yankees have outscored the Red Sox 317-294 and outhomered them 91-63.

The Yankees hit 43 home runs against the Red Sox last season, the most they’ve ever hit against them in a single season.

2-- Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda threw seven scoreless innings in his last start against the Mets. Kuroda has made 10 scoreless starts of at least seven innings since the start of the 2012 season, the most in the major leagues.

Kuroda has been very tough on right-handed hitters. They entered the day hitting with a .185 on-base percentage and .226 slugging percentage against him, both lowest in the majors against any pitcher currently qualified for the ERA title.

3-- Clay Buchholz enters Sunday 7-0 for the Red Sox this season. He's trying to become the fourth Red Sox pitcher to start 8-0 in a season since Roger Clemens started 14-0 in 1986. The other three are Rich Garces (8-0 in 2000), Josh Beckett (9-0 in 2007) and Daisuke Matsuzaka (8-0 in 2008).

One of the things that plagued Buchholz last season was that hitters were able to get to him with two strikes. He allowed 25 extra-base hits with two strikes in 2012, but has only yielded three (and no home runs) in 2013.

4-- Speaking of two-strike hitting, baseball's best hitter with two strikes this season has been Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia.

Pedroia entered Sunday with a major-league leading 41 two strike hits, and .407 on-base percentage.

Pedroia has 13 hits on 0-2 counts this season, also the most in the majors.

5-- The return of former Red Sox infielder Kevin Youkilis to the Yankees lineup should make an immediate impact. Youkilis is hitting .333 with a .928 OPS when playing third base for the Yankees this season. He has as many home runs (2) in those 48 at-bats as the Yankees other third basemen (who have had only a .646 OPS this season) have in 156 at-bats.

Cano extra-base binge has Yankees winning

April, 10, 2013
4/10/13
11:03
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AP Photo/Tony DejakRobinson Cano looks to become the first player in the modern era with three extra-base hits in three straight games.
The New York Yankees look to get over .500 for the first time this season when they visit the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday Night Baseball (7 ET, ESPN2).

After not topping four runs in any of their first five games, the Yankees have scored 32 runs in their past three games, including double-digit outputs in each of the first two games of the series.

Cano leads the charge
Robinson Cano is 7-for-10 in the series after going 6-for-63 in his previous 15 games dating to the start of last year’s postseason.

Cano is the first major league player with at least three extra-base hits in consecutive games since 2005 –- also by Cano. The only other Yankee to accomplish the feat was Lou Gehrig in 1936.

If he can get three extra-base hits Wednesday, the Elias Sports Bureau confirms that he would be the first player in baseball’s modern era (since 1900) with three extra-base hits in three straight games.

Bronx Bombers
Coming into the season, one of the big questions for the Yankees was where the power would come from. Nine of their top 10 home run hitters from 2012 are either on the disabled list or no longer with the team.

That hasn’t stopped this year’s squad, which is tied for the major league lead with 15 home runs, including eight in the first two games of the series.

Newcomers Kevin Youkilis, Vernon Wells and Travis Hafner have each hit two home runs and hit at least .333 in the first eight games.

Last season the Yankees led MLB with 48.4 percent of their runs scoring on home runs. This year’s pace is slightly higher -- 49.0 percent -- but is only sixth in the majors so far.

Cleveland’s free-agency plunge
After spending $117 million in free agency this offseason, the Indians are off to a disappointing 3-5 start and are in last place in the AL Central.

Cleveland’s free-agent commitment was the third highest in the majors, trailing only the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels, who combined to spend $335 million in the offseason.

The team’s spending was not only high relative to league standards, but unprecedented for Cleveland. In the previous three offseasons, the Indians combined to spend just more than $12 million on free agents.

Indians pitching struggles
The Indians have yet to name a starter for Wednesday’s game after projected starter Brett Myers pitched in relief Tuesday. But the entire staff has had trouble throwing strikes so far this season.

Cleveland pitchers have thrown strikes on only 60 percent of their pitches and walked 11 percent of the batters they’ve faced. Both numbers are worst in the majors.

The Yankees' home run onslaught is also likely to continue Wednesday. The Indians allow 2.0 home runs per nine innings, the highest rate in the majors.

Three key moves: Sanchez, Choo, Youkilis

December, 16, 2012
12/16/12
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Throughout the offseason, we'll feature regular in-depth reviews of MLB moves. This week's piece looks at three veterans: Shin-Soo Choo, Anibal Sanchez, and Kevin Youkilis.

Anibal Sanchez signs 5-year deal with Tigers
Sanchez will now try to duplicate the success he had with the Detroit Tigers down the stretch for a full season in 2013 and beyond.

One key change for Sanchez after he was traded mid-season from Miami to Detroit was an increase in the use of his curveball. Including the playoffs, he threw 55 more curves in 26 fewer innings in Motown compared to Florida.

His hook was a liability with the Marlins but became a key out-pitch for him with the Tigers.

Opponents hit .379 in at-bats ending in a curve and whiffed on just one of every 10 swings against the pitch when he was in Miami.

Sanchez began to throw his curveball more often in all counts, especially with two strikes, after moving to Detroit, and he dominated hitters with the pitch.

After throwing just 14 two-strike curves in a Marlins uniform, he tripled that number with the Tigers. His 47 two-strike curves in Detroit netted him 28 outs and just one hit allowed.

Overall, he doubled his curveball miss rate with the Tigers and opponents hit just .111 against it, including a 3-for-31 mark by lefties.

In his last five regular-season starts and first two postseason starts (vs the Athletics and Yankees), Sanchez threw 104 curveballs and got 27 outs with the pitch, yielding just one baserunner.
-- Katie Sharp

Reds obtain Shin-Soo Choo in 3-team trade
Choo and his .384 on-base percentage over the last five seasons represents a distinct upgrade for the Cincinnati Reds in the leadoff spot. Reds leadoff hitters had a .254 on-base percentage and .327 slugging percentage, which ranked last and next-to-last in the majors respectively.

What are the two aspects of Choo’s game in which he is statistically struggling that are worth watching in 2013?

One would be his issues with left-handed pitching. Choo averaged one home run per 33 plate appearances against lefties in 2008 and 2009, but is averaging just one per 144 over the last three seasons.

In 2012, Choo slugged only .286 against lefties, fifth-worst among the 64 lefties with 100 plate appearances against southpaws last season.

The other problem for Choo is his likely transition to center field. Choo finished with -12 Defensive Runs Saved (a stat that measures the ability to turn batted balls into outs and deter baserunners with your throwing arm). That ranked tied for second-worst among right fielders last season.

The defensive value that Choo has comes from his throwing arm. His 11 Defensive Runs Saved contributed with his arm over the last three seasons are fourth-most among right fielders, behind Jeff Francoeur, Jose Bautista, and Torii Hunter.

One item of note on the Choo trade from the Indians perspective. The Indians got 20 Wins Above Replacement from Choo after obtaining him from the Seattle Mariners in 2006, giving up Ben Broussard.

For the -0.9 WAR that Broussard was worth to Seattle, the Indians get the 20 WAR from Choo, and all the WAR that Trevor Bauer will contribute, being under team control until 2018.
--Justin Havens

Kevin Youkilis signs 1-year deal with Yankees
Youkilis replenishes an offensive approach the New York Yankees were in danger of losing this offseason.

Patience, discipline and the ability to work the count have been trademarks of the Yankees offense in recent history.

The Yankees have faced more pitches per plate appearance than the league average in 16 straight seasons. Last year, the team saw 3.89 pitches per plate appearance, fourth-most in MLB.

The Yankees had seven players in the upper half of the league in pitches per plate appearance last season (min. 250 PA). But of those seven, Russell Martin, Andruw Jones and Eric Chavez have signed elsewhere, while Raul Ibanez and Nick Swisher remain on the market.

Youkilis ranked third in the majors with 4.34 pitches per plate appearance last season behind Adam Dunn and A.J. Ellis. He’s seen the third-most pitches per plate appearance among active players since joining the league in 2004.
--Will Cohen

ESPN Stats & InfoKevin Youkilis is struggling against pitches in all areas this season, other than those right over the middle of the plate.
Kevin Youkilis has traded his red stockings for pale hose and will make his debut with the Chicago White Sox tonight in Minnesota. He is a career .313 hitter against the Minnesota Twins, his third-highest average vs any AL team. Red Sox fans won’t have to wait long to see him again, as the White Sox visit Fenway for a four-game series July 16-19.

Red Sox Legacy
Youkilis, who was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 2001 Draft, leaves a lasting legacy in Beantown where he played eight seasons and won two World Series titles. Youkilis’ departure leaves David Ortiz as the only remaining member of the 2004 World Series-winning team.

Youkilis finished his Red Sox career with 29.5 WAR, 19th on the franchise list, and sandwiched between Bosox legends Dom DiMaggio and Johnny Pesky. He also ranks 11th in OPS, 12th in on-base percentage and 13th in slugging percentage in the Red Sox record books.

2012 Struggles
However, Youkilis has been in a steep decline over the past two seasons. His batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS are each at career-worst levels this year, and most notably his walk rate has dropped below 10 percent for the first time ever.

Known as the “Greek God of Walks” because of his terrific batting eye, he is really struggling to recognize pitches in three-ball counts this year.

He is swinging at more pitches out of the strike zone and taking more pitches for strikes when getting into a three-ball count, despite the fact that pitchers are throwing him more pitches in the zone than in previous years.

Youkilis’ power is also down considerably this year, with a .377 slugging percentage compared to his career mark of .487. One issue is that he is pounding the ball into the ground. His groundball rate has increased from 41 percent in 2011 to 51 percent this year.

His ability to pull the ball for power has fallen sharply this year. Just four of his 12 (33 percent) extra-base hits have been to his pull side this year, compared to 29 of 51 (57 percent) in 2011, and his slugging on balls hit to left field has plummeted from .730 in 2011 to .370 in 2012.

A New Home
Even though Youkilis is a shell of his former self, he will be an upgrade at third base for the first-place White Sox. Chicago’s third baseman this year have produced a collective line of .168/.243/.224, ranking dead last in the majors in every offensive statistic.

How bad are the White Sox third baseman? Their .467 OPS is more than 30 points worse than the .499 OPS from the Nationals pitchers! In fact no other team has a worse OPS at any position this year.

Chicago third basemen also have a league-worst one homer. That's a far cry from their team-record 37 home runs by third basemen in 1996. The primary third baseman that season? Current manager Robin Ventura, who had 32 while playing the hot corner.

--Katie Sharp contributed to this post
October is fast approaching and baseball fans are lamenting the lack of pennant races. But many of those teams with their tickets virtually punched for the postseason are facing a race to get some key contributors healthy.

Entering Friday’s action, there are nine teams either leading a race for a playoff spot or within five games of one of those spots.

Among those, the Boston Red Sox have had the most 2011 contributors hit the disabled list this season with 16.

The Red Sox have the depth and star power to overcome those losses to make a playoff berth likely.

The AL has six players with a WAR above six this season and the Red Sox have three of them: Jacoby Ellsbury (8.2), Dustin Pedroia (6.9) and Adrian Gonzalez (6.1). They went 12-2 without Jon Lester in July.

But things have been rough lately without Kevin Youkilis. The third baseman was placed on the 15-day DL on August 18 and has been undergoing tests on his sore left hip. Late reports out of Boston indicate that Youkilis has bursitis in the hip and could rejoin the team this weekend.

In the meantime the Sox have gone 11-11 and seen their wild card lead over the Tampa Bay Rays shrink from eight to five and a half after Friday’s loss.

Of course not all injuries are created equal.

For example, the Texas Rangers’ missed-games total this season is 636, within a dozen of the other more “injury-prone” teams like Boston, the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies.

However, only 113 of those games have been missed by players ever named to an All-Star Game. The biggest suppliers of that 636 total are Scott Feldman (92 games), Tommy Hunter (82), Darren O’Day (60) and Eric Hurley (57).

The likely playoff team with the most combined games missed due to DL stints this season is the Philadelphia Phillies, which makes their MLB-best 93-48 record all the more impressive.

Pitching has been the source of both the team’s strength and injury woes so far. Consider how the Cy Young cases of Roy Halladay (MLB-best among pitchers 7.4 WAR) and Cliff Lee (5.9), along with the emergence of rookie Vance Worley, helped Philly go 62-36 without closer Brad Lidge and 31-16 without Roy Oswalt.

Nick Loucks and Kim Meyer contributed to this story.

Red Sox, Yankees battle for first

August, 7, 2011
8/07/11
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The Yankees and Red Sox play the rubber match of their three-game series in Boston at 8 ET on Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN.

The Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees may be tied atop the American League East standings, but the rivalry has hardly been even this season. Boston has won nine of the first 11 matchups in 2011, outscoring the Yankees 72-44, as the Red Sox look to win the season series for the first time since 2004.

On the mound

Josh Beckett is on the bump for the Red Sox, looking to continue his dominance over the Yankees this season. He’s won all three starts, allowing just two earned runs in 21 innings with 25 strikeouts.

How has he been so successful against the powerful Yankees lineup? Beckett has silenced the heart of the order, holding the 3-4-5-6 batters to just two hits in 32 at-bats.

His curveball has been nearly unhittable in the three starts, as the Yankees have only one single in 17 at-bats ending in Beckett’s hook this season.

Freddy Garcia, who is on pace to post the second-lowest ERA in his 13-season major league career, gets the call for the Yankees. Garcia is 8-4 career against the Red Sox, but has really struggled against them this season, with an 0-2 record and 10.13 ERA in three outings.

Garcia doesn’t have overpowering stuff, with a fastball that averages just 87 mph, the fifth-slowest fastball velocity among AL pitchers. Garcia has been at his best when the pressure has been highest, limiting opponents to a .191 batting average with runners in scoring position.

Matchups to watch

Mark Teixeira
Teixeira
Mark Teixeira hit .351 and slugged .662 in 18 games against the Red Sox during his first season in pinstripes, but over the past two seasons he’s gone cold at the plate. He’s hitting just .198 in 29 games since then versus Boston, including 1-for-7 in the first two games of this series.

Kevin Youkilis may be having a subpar year compared to past seasons, but he’s always been a thorn in the Yankees’ side in his career. His .445 on-base percentage against New York is the highest among active players and his .950 OPS is sixth best (min. 200 PA).

Stat of the game

This will be the eighth time in the history of the rivalry that the Yankees and Red Sox have met on or after Aug. 1 tied for first place (the seventh time was on Friday night). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Yankees have won the past five such games, starting with the game that decided the 1949 pennant.
After scoring only 14 runs combined in four games entering Wednesday's contest with the Cleveland Indians, the Boston Red Sox have now hammered out 14 runs in each of their last two games, with Thursday's victim being the Detroit Tigers.

This marked the eighth time since 1919 that Boston scored at least 14 runs in back-to-back games, and first time since July of 1998.

Much to the relief of Red Sox fans, at the forefront of this offensive outburst is Carl Crawford, who had two triples as part of his second straight four-hit game. He's just the fourth different Red Sox player (joining Dustin Pedroia, Jim Rice and Wade Boggs, who did it three different times) with consecutive four-hit games in the divisional era.

Crawford's also the first Red Sox player with at least four hits and at least two extra-base hits in consecutive games since Del Pratt did it in back-to-back games on August 23-24, 1921.

In the last two games alone Crawford has raised his average from .212 to .244 and seen his slugging percentage jump from .293 to .368 during that same stretch.

While all the talk following the game centered on Boston's offense, entering Thursday's contest the buzz surrounded the man tasked with shutting it down. Heading into the game, Max Scherzer was 3-0 in five home starts with a 0.77 ERA, the lowest ERA for a Tigers pitcher in his first five home starts of a season since 1945, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Scherzer's home ERA is now 2.43 following the Tigers' 14-1 loss to the Red Sox.

Scherezer faced three batters in the second inning without recording an out before exiting. Almost all the damage was done by the seven left-handed hitters in Boston's lineup. Nine of the 15 batters Scherzer faced reached base, and six of the seven hits he allowed were to left-handed batters.

Elsewhere around the majors:

• After using eight different relief pitchers on Wednesday in their 19-inning win over the Cincinnati Reds, Cliff Lee gave the Philadelphia Phillies bullpen a much-needed day off, throwing eight innings. But it was his bat that contributed almost as much as his arm. Cliff Lee had two hits and three RBI, without the benefit of a home run. He's just the fifth Phillies pitcher since Divisional Play began in 1969 to do that.

Jay Bruce did hit a two-run home run off Lee. It was Bruce's 10th home run in the month of May, currently tied with Jose Bautista for the most in the month of May.

• The Florida Marlins defeated the San Francisco Giants 1-0 behind Anibal Sanchez who pitched the third shutout of his career. It marked just the fifth time in franchise history that a pitcher threw a 1-0 shutout. Sanchez has allowed zero earned runs in four of his last seven starts.

As for the Giants, their first game without Buster Posey displayed their offensive deficiencies that could prevent them from reaching the playoffs. According to 10,000 simulations done by Accuscore.com, the injury dropped the Giants' chances of making the playoffs to 44.4 percent if he is out for the entire season.

Barbara Johnston/US Presswire
Roy Halladay will face the Reds for the first time since he no-hit Cincinnati in the 2010 NLDS.

(The Philadelphia Phillies host the Cincinnati Reds at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2.)

On Tuesday, the Reds snapped an eight-game losing streak (including playoff games) to the Phillies.

On Wednesday, the Reds have one more streak to break -- getting a hit off Roy Halladay. The last time Halladay faced the Reds, he threw the second postseason no-hitter in baseball history.

Halladay leads all of baseball with 80 strikeouts and is averaging 9.3 strikeouts per nine innings. That’s well above his career high of 7.9 set last season. Only three Phillies have averaged better than a strikeout per inning and qualified for the ERA title: Curt Schilling in 1997 and 1998, Brandon Duckworth in 2002 and Cole Hamels last season.

This will be Halladay’s sixth regular-season start with umpire Tony Randazzo working behind the plate. In his first two starts (2000 and 2004), Halladay was 0-2 and allowed 10 runs in 10 innings. In his past three (all since the start of 2010), Doc is 2-1 with a 1.44 ERA (four earned runs, 25 innings), 21 strikeouts and three walks.

Several Reds have had success against Halladay, highlighted by Ramon Hernandez. His .351 (13-37) average against Halladay is the fourth-highest among players with at least 30 at-bats: Kevin Youkilis (.375), Ivan Rodriguez (.359) and B.J. Upton (.357).

Opposing Halladay will be Travis Wood, who took a perfect game into the ninth inning in his only career start against the Phillies before allowing a leadoff double in the ninth. Halladay was the opposing starter in that game, too.

Wood is unbeaten in his past three starts but has failed to pitch seven innings in each of his past nine starts.

The Reds are third in the National League with a .262 batting average but are hitting just .254 against right-handed pitching. Furthermore, Cincinnati is hitting just .239 on the road, compared to .282 at home.
Today’s Trivia: Hank Aaron made his major-league debut 57 years ago today. Since then, who are the three players with the most home runs in the American League?

Let’s take a look at some odd trends in league-wide splits. A big question emerges: What’s going on with American League offenses?

• Non-pitchers in the National League are hitting .267, while the American League is hitting .247 (entering Wednesday).

• The big difference is at home. American League teams are hitting almost the same at home (.246) as on the road (.247). National League teams are substantially better at home (.271) than on the road (.251).

• Is it a difficulty adjusting to playing under the lights? American League teams are hitting .237 at night compared to .256 during the day.

• American League left fielders have combined to hit .217 with a .628 OPS. Both of those are the lowest for a position in either league. Six American League teams are hitting .200 or worse in left, with the Angels (.106) worst of all.

• Last season, American League outfielders combined to hit .270 with a .761 OPS. This season? A batting average of .234 with a .669 OPS.

• Oddly, the lowest OPS for a National League position is first base (.723). That would be the fourth best OPS for an American League position. In fact, four American League spots have a sub-.700 OPS.

• There’s an interesting age gap in American League pitching. Those who are season age 30 or younger combine for a 3.73 ERA. Those older than that combine for a 5.06 ERA.

Key Matchup: Kevin Youkilis is hitting just .182 on the season, but the cure isn’t likely to be James Shields. Youkilis is 3-for-31 (.097) with 10 strikeouts against Shields in the regular season. It’s worth noting that he’s 3-for-6 with a home run against Shields in postseason play.

This Date in Baseball History
1954: Henry Aaron made his major league debut

1963: Pete Rose got his first major league hit

1984: Pete Rose got his 4,000th hit, a double off Philadelphia pitcher Jerry Koosman

2009: Chicago's Jermaine Dye and Paul Konerko reached 300 career home runs in consecutive at-bats. They became the first teammates to hit century milestone home runs of at least 300 in the same game.

Trivia Answer: Since Aaron’s debut, no one has more home runs in the AL than Alex Rodriguez (616). The next two are Harmon Killebrew (573) and Reggie Jackson (562).

Beckett, Sabathia face Sunday challenge

April, 10, 2011
4/10/11
10:02
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US Presswire/Getty Images
Josh Beckett and CC Sabathia have their work cut out for them on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball.


It was 98 years ago today that the team formerly known as the New York Highlanders played its first game with the Yankees as its nickname.

The Yankees lost to the Washington Senators, 2-1, and even in those days, the New York media was a bit on the harsh side. The game story in the New York Times led with how the defeat was caused by “stupid base running.”

One team’s media throng is likely to have a bit to say after the Yankees and Red Sox clash in their series finale on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball at 8 ET.

There will either be further talk of a Red Sox malaise or of how a formerly winless Boston squad got the better of the Yankees this weekend (and the slump of Mark Teixeira, whose batting average has dipped from .333 to .200 in a three-game span). Here are some of the notes that may come into play for tonight’s broadcast.

• Not only is April 10 the anniversary of the Yankees nickname, but it’s also one for Yankees starter CC Sabathia. A year ago on this date, he no-hit the Tampa Bay Rays for 7⅔ innings before a Kelly Shoppach hit broke up his attempt at history.

Sabathia has won 17 or more games in each of the last four seasons, the longest current streak in the majors. The last pitcher with a longer streak was Randy Johnson (six straight, 1997 to 2002).

Sabathia has a couple of guys to watch out for tonight, most notably Kevin Youkilis, whose .409 batting average against him is the second-best among active players with at least 20 plate appearances (Derek Jeter ranks first, with a .500 batting average against his teammate). The Yankees lefty does have an advantage against Boston’s best lefty bat, Adrian Gonzalez, who has struck out five times in eight at-bats against Sabathia.

• The Red Sox haven’t hit left-handers well in their first eight games. They’re hitting .187 with a .504 OPS in the small sample of 80 plate appearances. Last season, the Red Sox ranked second in the majors with an .802 OPS against lefties.

• The Red Sox do have a history of scoring runs for Josh Beckett when they face the Yankees though. Beckett is 10-7 against the Yankees since joining the Red Sox despite an ERA of 6.26 (his ERA is 3.77 against everyone else). In his 22 starts, they’ve averaged six runs of support for him.

Beckett yielded 31 runs to the Yankees last season, having trouble with the likes of Brett Gardner (6-for-13) and Nick Swisher (5-for-11 with a pair of home runs). It’s been a long time since a pitcher allowed that many runs to the Yankees. The last was Hall of Famer Early Wynn for the 1958 White Sox (33). Should that trend continue, Beckett may be the subject of tomorrow’s media fodder.

Sunday’s Did You Knows?
•  According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Derek Jeter is a .319 career hitter when playing on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball, but there are two different ways to look at that. Jeter is 25-for-100 (a .250 batting average) career against the Red Sox in such games. He’s hitting .370 on Sunday Night Baseball against all other major league teams.
Adrian Gonzalez rates right alongside Albert Pujols and Ryan Howard as one of the game's pre-eminent power-hitting first basemen. This, despite the fact that he played half of his games over the last five seasons in the pitcher friendly Petco Park.
Adrian Gonzalez
Gonzalez

If Gonzalez had played in a hitter's park (like Fenway Park), his numbers would have been gargantuan.

From 2008-10, Gonzalez hit 37 home runs at Petco Park. That might not sound like a lot, but it is, considering that Petco is, by far, the worst National League park for a left-handed power hitter.

Baseball Info Solutions uses a metric called "Park Factor" that compares the numbers of teams and their opponents at home and on the road. From 2008-10, Petco's "Park Factor" for lefties was 59 (on a scale of 100).

To calculate how many home runs Gonzalez would have hit at a ballpark that treated lefties in a neutral manner, take the 37 home runs he hit and divide by .59. Take that total (62.7) and adjust it to Fenway Park, which had a "Park Factor" of 88 from 2008-10. Multiply 62.7 by .88

Based on those calculations, the 37 homers that Gonzalez hit at Petco over the last three seasons is equivalent to a left-handed batter hitting 55 home runs at Fenway Park.

Over the last five seasons, Gonzalez hit 62 opposite field homers. According to Hit Tracker, only three would not have been home runs in Fenway Park. In fact, all 22 of his opposite field home runs hit at Petco since 2006 also would have been home runs in Boston, despite the dimensions and height of the Green Monster.

Defensively, Gonzalez will be a downgrade at first base from Kevin Youkilis.

Again, according to Baseball Info Solutions, Gonzalez rated as an average/below-average defender in four of his five seasons with the Padres. Last year, his plus/minus rating was -1, which estimates that he made one fewer play than the average first baseman. Youkilis has rated as an above-average defender at first base in each of the last five seasons, and last year had a +5 rating.

Last year, Gonzalez's main issue was on balls to his right, where he had a -8 rating; however, this might not be a significant problem in Boston, since Dustin Pedroia had a +3 rating on balls to his left in 2010.

Youkilis in all likelihood will move back to third base with the addition of Gonzalez. Youkilis played nearly 500 innings at third in 2009, and was above-average with a +10 rating. That’s better than Adrian Beltre, who was +8 last season.

(Derek Czenczelewski, Justin Havens, Katie Sharp and Mark Simon contributed to this post.)

A first for the Red Sox

July, 28, 2010
7/28/10
8:52
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In their 7-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the Boston Red Sox had all four infielders - Adrian Beltre, Marco Scutaro, Bill Hall and Kevin Youkilis - hit home runs. This was the first time in team history that the Red Sox got a home run from a player at each infield position.

1st Pitch: Bad split in a good season

June, 29, 2010
6/29/10
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Quick Hits: Sure, they are having great seasons, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a weakness. With help from ESPN Stats & Info's Mark Simon and Dan Braunstein, here are some top performers who have one very specific split where they are not producing.
  • Ubaldo Jimenez has allowed 11 runs in the sixth inning, compared to just nine in the first five innings combined. Opponents are hitting .333 in the sixth and .176 in all other innings.
  • It must be something about the sixth… Albert Pujols is hitting .178 in the sixth inning and .325 in every other inning combined.
  • Joey Votto is hitting just .148 when leading off an inning, but .354 in all other situations.
  • Prince Fielder is hitting .179 on at-bats ending on the first pitch when the league average is .341.
  • Miguel Cabrera is hitting .120 against teams with “Sox” in their name, and .356 against everyone else.
  • Joe Mauer is hitting just .230 with nobody out, but .330 if there are outs in the inning.
  • David Wright is hitting just .205 with two outs, but .349 with less than two outs.
  • Billy Butler is hitting .095 in full counts, but .337 in all other counts.
  • Opponents are hitting .395 off of Daisuke Matsuzaka in the first inning, but just .191 after.
  • Opponents are hitting .314 against Roy Halladay to lead off an inning, but just .223 for subsequent at-bats in the inning.
  • Bud Norris may not fit into the category of players have solid seasons, but this one is almost too bizarre. On the first pitch, opponents are hitting .778 against Norris. If he gets beyond the first pitch, opponents are hitting just .263.
Today’s Trivia: Jim Thome is two home runs away from tying Harmon Killebrew for 10th on the all-time list. Killebrew turns 74 today. He is one of four players to have 140 RBI and 140 walks in the same season. Who are the other three?

Today’s Leaderboard: Josh Hamilton still has two games to go in June, but is hitting .470 for the month. He’s on pace for the fifth-best June batting average over the last 25 years. In 2004, Ivan Rodriguez hit .500 for the month while with the Tigers. Yet, Hamilton is not even the highest Ranger on this list. Mark McLemore hit .472 for Texas in June 1996, but hit just .261 in every other month of that season.

Key Matchups: Andre Ethier is 18-for-33 (.545) lifetime against Matt Cain, whom he faces on Tuesday. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that is the fourth-highest batting average for an active NL batter against a current NL pitcher (min. 25 AB). The best belongs to Albert Pujols, who is a .593 hitter against Paul Maholm.

Kevin Youkilis is just 3-for-28 in the regular season against James Shields, a .107 average that is his second worst against any pitcher he’s faced 20 times (.050 against Erik Bedard is his worst). He was actually hitless in his first 18 at-bats against Shields. But ironically, Youkilis crushed Shields in the 2008 postseason, going 3-for-6 with a home run.

Trivia Answer: Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Mark McGwire are the only other players with a 140-RBI and 140-walk season. Ruth is the only player to accomplish it twice.

FanGraphs: Why patience means power

June, 2, 2010
6/02/10
12:34
PM ET
Perhaps the tortoise had something on the hare –- he knew how to walk. A select group of players this year are taking the tortoise’s path to success by increasing their walk rates significantly. In particular, improved plate selectivity is working well for Josh Willingham, Justin Morneau and Franklin Gutierrez, and is the reason why their fast starts should be believed.

Morneau’s big season is similar to another player who recently rode an increase in walks into a huge season. Between 2008 and 2009, Adrian Gonzalez saw his walk rate increase 6.9 percent, which compares favorably with Morneau’s 6.7 percent increase in the same category this year. Gonzalez's corresponding career-best OPS was not all driven by the walks alone -– Gonzalez also put up a career-best slugging percentage last year, just as Morneau is doing this season.

A quick glance at the table above shows that improving your walk alone is not the magic key to success. For every Morneau on this list, there is a struggling Jason Kubel to serve as anecdotal evidence in that regard, although even he has shown signs of coming around lately.

On the other hand, it’s hard not to notice the success stories. As measured by ISO (isolated power, or slugging percentage minus batting average), Colby Rasmus, Willingham, Morneau, Aaron Hill and Kevin Youkilis are all enjoying years more powerful than their career rates. In fact, the average 2010 ISOs of the 10 men on this list are 6.2 percent better than their career ISOs.

The theory is pretty simple: By being more patient, these guys are getting into good hitters' counts and getting better pitches to swing at. When they don't get the pitch they're looking for, they simply wander on down to first base, helping their team by avoiding outs. Increasing walk rate isn't the only way to improve, but as we're seeing from these notable spikes in patience, it is certainly one way to make yourself a better player.

Eno Sarris is a writer for FanGraphs.

Notes from Opening Night

April, 5, 2010
4/05/10
2:30
AM ET
With the game tied at 5 in the bottom of the 7th, Red Sox manager went to Hideki Okajima to get out of the jam. Okajima allowe his two inherited runners to score, but with the slate clean and the Red Sox down two, he finished the inning with only one hit allowed. The Red Sox took the lead in the top of the eighth and the bottom of the inning was owned by Daniel Bard, who allowed only one walk but induced a fielder's choice to get the ball to Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth. Papelbon didn't record a signature strikeout in the final frame, but kept the Yankees at bay as the Red Sox held on for the 9-7 win.

That should be a popular pitcher procession at Fenway Park this season: Okajima in the 7th, Bard in the 8th and Papelbon in the 9th. You can almost count on it regardless of the score and situation. Last season ended the same way for the Sox with Okajima and Bard as the setup men for the charismatic Papelbon. If last year's numbers are any indication, Sox fans should be very happy about their late inning bullpen triumvirate.


Tonight they allowed no earned runs from these situations and allowed just two hits to the top five hitters in the Yankee lineup, a stark comparison from their numbers last season against the Bronx Bombers


Other Notes

Yankees 2B Robinson Cano went 2-3 against Josh Beckett, bringing his career mark to 17-47 (.362) against the Texan. The two pitches Cano hit were over the middle of the plate and away. Last season, Cano batted .340 against pitches in the middle of the plate and .316 on pitches away.

On the flip side, Yankees 1B Mark Teixeira went 0-3 vs. Beckett. He is now 3-23 for his career against the righty with eight strikeouts. Two of Tex's three outs were against the changeup. Last season, Teixeira batted .289 against the change, and surprisingly Beckett threw only one changeup to the Yankee slugger. In 2009, Beckett used the curveball 35 times in five games against Teixeira, a pitch he threw 14 times tonight (just once to Teixeira). Either way, Mark Teixeira can't handle the off-speed stuff of Josh Beckett.

Red Sox 1B Kevin Youkilis was the key hitter for the home team, and his 2-run triple in the fifth helped put Yankee starter CC Sabathia on the bench. Youkilis is now a .350 career hitter against Sabathia (7-20), the third-highest batting average for Youk against pitchers he's faced a least 20 times.

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