What are we to do with Kevin Youkilis?

Updated: April 19, 2012, 2:49 PM ET
By Eric Karabell
New Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine has been in baseball long enough to know that veteran players run into slumps at times, and eventually most of them emerge from them just fine and return to being the same consistent, reliable stars. While Valentine's ill-timed comments about struggling third baseman Kevin Youkilis over the weekend were perhaps his odd way of trying to motivate his player, the fact is that managers, fans and, yes, fantasy owners, overrate small sample sizes all the time. I don't think Youkilis is headed to the All-Star Game or Silver Slugger status in 2012, but still, this is a wonderful time to buy low on a talented player who in two weeks we'll be praising for overcoming his slump (and his manager).

Let's face it, all of us can make statistics prove whatever point we want, and there's ample evidence to suggest something is wrong with Youkilis. It started late last season, even before the Red Sox imploded in September. Youkilis eventually needed surgery for a sports hernia, which I believe played a role in him batting .209 in August and .167 in September. From May through July, Youkilis hit .288 while drawing plenty of walks and knocking in 20 runs per month. Put simply, he was a valuable asset when healthy, then an injury turned him into a liability. Youkilis has played in an average of only 111 games over the past two campaigns, but one of those seasons he was very productive (.975 OPS in 2010) and even last year, for three months, nobody complained.

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