Will Youkilis Be Any Good Outside of Fenway?

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.

Daniel Foster — Daniel Foster has been news editor of National Review Online since 2009, and was a web site editor until 2012. His work has appeared in The American Spectator, The American ...

Most Popular

Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More