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Numbers Game: Yankees add Youkilis

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Scott Cullen
12/12/2012 1:56:35 PM
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Desperate to find a replacement for a rehabbing Alex Rodriguez, the New York Yankees inked a former arch-rival.

Numbers Game looks at the Yankees signing Kevin Youkilis.

The Yankees Get: 3B Kevin Youkilis.

Youkilis, 33, started slowly (4 HR, 14 RBI, .233 AVG, .692 OPS in 42 GP) with the Red Sox last season, but a strong finish (15 HR, 46 RBI, .236 AVG, .771 OPS in 82 GP) with the Chicago White Sox at least brought his counting numbers closer to typical levels by season's end, though his batting average (.234) and OPS (.745) were career lows.

Some of that can be attributed to bad luck, as Youkilis did hit just .268 on balls in play, the lowest mark in a career that has seen him produce a .322 BABIP.

Even with some bad luck factored in, Youkilis' game has naturally declined from his peak years of production and that's to be expected as he hits his mid-30s.

Over the last three seasons, Youkilis has missed significant time, playing 344 out of a possible 486 games, and while he's not six wins above replacement like he was in his best years, he's still productive enough. Youkilis' fWAR (www.fangraphs.com) of 9.1 since 2010 ranks 10th among all third basemen, just behind Alex Rodriguez (10.2).

Coincidentally, it's Rodriguez's own deteriorating health that necessitated the Yankees' pursuit of Youkilis this offseason and with hip surgery expected to keep A-Rod on the shelf for the first half of 2013, Youkilis provides a solid veteran replacement, one that won't be awed by the big-game atmosphere in the Bronx.

Over his entire career, Youkilis owns an .867 OPS, but in 104 games against the Yankees has a .915 OPS, his fourth-best mark against 13 American League opponents. The three other clubs that Youkilis has a higher OPS against are the Angels (.993), Orioles (.986) and Rangers (.959).

Youkilis isn't much of a base runner and his lack of range in the field makes him mediocre at the hot corner (a total of -2 Defensive Runs Saved at third base over the last three seasons, per www.fangraphs.com), so he's not necessarily a complete all-around replacement for Rodriguez, but should be a reliable enough to hold the fort for half the season, with the ability to play some first base and serve as the right-handed DH, whenever Rodriguez returns to the lineup.

Youkilis' departure leaves the White Sox with Brent Morel at third base. Morel was supposed to handle the job last season, but hit .177 with a .420 OPS in 35 games, leading to the acquisition of Youkilis. Maybe the 25-year-old gets another crack at it in 2013, or maybe the White Sox will keep looking for a more proven alternative.

Signed for one year, at $12-million, Youkilis is actually an economical acquisition for the Yankees in the sense that the deal doesn't require a multi-year commitment and he will fill a gaping hole in the lineup.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.

Kevin Youkilis (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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