Google+
Close

Right Field

Brief chronicles of our sporting times.

Will Youkilis Be Any Good Outside of Fenway?



Text  



Lots of hitters perform better at home than on the road, but Kevin Youkilis’s career splits are pretty big:

For a rough comp, here was the 2011 home-road split for all of MLB:

So league-wide, hitting at home last year was good for .006 points of batting average, .011 points of OPB, .017 of slugging. Youkilis’s split was +.033/.023/.045. Or, if you like one number, Youkilis’ home-field OPS bump of +.069 is more than four times greater than the league’s. I went back and looked at the decade of league splits and it turns out that the home-field boost 2011 is on the small end, so assume the difference between Youk’s split and the league’s is closer to two-to-one than four-to-one, it still appears that we’re looking at a decent-to-good hitter turned into a very-good-to-outstanding one by Fenway Park.

By contrast, his slash at Chicago’s Cellular Field, his new home, is an anemic .234/.341/.390 for an OPS of .730 in 91 plate appearances. Do I expect that to improve? Sure. But I doubt Youkilis will ever be the hitter at U.S. Cellular that he was at Fenway.

At this point people will chime in with park-adjusted stats that show Youkilis is a very good hitter no matter how you slice it. Okay, fine. But I don’t love park-adjusted stats because they don’t take into account how hitters change their basic approach depending on where they are hitting. And I think this is especially true for hitters in Boston. Years ago I looked at splits, and more crucially the spray charts, for the ultimate great-at-Fenway-mediocre-everywhere-else hitter of his generation, Mike Lowell* and it was completely obvious he had a different strategy at the plate in Fenway — one involving peppering a kelly-hued wall of uncommon size with lame fly balls. Of course, I can’t find that work to repost here, so I’ll just have to wave my hands and tell you to do the research yourself if you don’t believe me.

*.856 career OPS at Fenway, .805 overall. But that doesn’t tell the whole story. In 2007, his best year in Boston, Lowell’s home/road OPS split was a gaping .993/.767.


Tags: MLB


Text  


Subscribe to National Review