Kevin Youkilis was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the eighth round of the 2001 Major League Baseball amateur draft. Youkilis attended the University of Cincinnati where he played four seasons of NCAA baseball. In the minor leagues, Youkilis excelled as an on-base machine and was dubbed “The Greek God of Walks” in the book Moneyball by Michael Lewis. Throughout his career, Youkilis has always managed to exceed expectations and is now one of the American League’s top performers and a frequent MVP candidate.
In college and the minors, Youkilis’s on-base ability became the dominant aspect of his game. He had an on-base percentage of .549 during his senior season at Cincinnati, then reached base at an above-.500 rate again in his first professional season with the Lowell Spinners. For the whole of his minor league career, Youkilis posted a .442 on-base percentage. He was Boston’s Minor League Player of the Year in both 2001 and 2002 and he earned spots on All-Star teams in AA and AAA.
Kevin Youkilis made his Major League debut in 2004, hitting a home run in his first at-bat with the Red Sox. As a rookie, Youkilis bounced between the ML and AAA levels, hitting .260 with a .367 on-base percentage and seven home runs in 208 at-bats in Boston. He spent his 2005 season in much the same capacity as his road to a permanent spot in the Majors remained blocked by veteran starters.
Come 2006, Kevin Youkilis became a fulltime starter with the Red Sox. In 680 plate appearances, he reached base at a .381 rate, adding 13 home runs, 42 doubles, and 100 runs scored. In the Majors, he has improved his OPS in every season. His 2007 season featured a pickup in power numbers as he hit 16 home runs and slugged .453, serving as a key cog in Boston’s World Series Championship.
In the 2008 season, Kevin Youkilis evolved into an MVP candidate. With a .312 average, .390 on-base percentage, 29 home runs, and 115 RBI, Youkilis made the All-Star team and finished third in AL MVP voting. His 2009 season was a continuation of his power surge as he hit .305 with 27 home runs and reached base at a career-high .413 clip. Youkilis once again made the All-Star team and finished sixth in MVP voting.
As strong as his offensive game is, Kevin Youkilis has made a name for himself on the defensive side of the game as well. Though he started his professional career as a third baseman, Youkilis is one of baseball’s best defensive first basemen. When the Red Sox acquired third baseman Mike Lowell entering the 2006 season, Youkilis became the team’s fulltime first baseman. In 2007, Youkilis took home the American League Gold Glove Award for first base. Between 2006 and 2008, Youkilis set a Major League record by playing 238 consecutive errorless games at first base.