Originally posted on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 12/12/12
In at least one way, Kevin Youkilis is a perfect fit for the Yankees. They’re trying to stay under the luxury tax threshold in 2014 in order to reset their tax rate and there aren’t many other third basemen willing to take one-year deals on the market. Beats trying to coax Chipper Jones out of retirement, probably, and Youkilis has retained enough of his skill to be an asset, even coming off his worst year. In at least one other way, Youkilis is less than an ideal fit. The good news first. Though Youkilis is coming off his career-worst season, not all of his peripherals tell the same story. His power has been in decline for two straight years by isolated power and that can happen to older hitters. His home run per fly ball rate has held steady, but he’s hitting more ground balls recently and that has led to fewer home runs. He’s definitively past his power peak. Hold on, the good news is still coming. The thirty-three year old also just showed the second-worst strikeout rate of his career, which jives with aging curves as well. On the other hand, he’s not showing any more swinging strikes than he used to, and he hasn’t run into the extra swings — outside and inside the zone — that start appearing around his age. Given the fact that he just put up the best reach rate of his career, and the fact that his walk rate has stayed in the double-digits his whole career, it’s likely that Youkilis still has that skill that gave him the Grecian divinity moniker. This might all sound like luke-warm praise, but it’s hard to find a guy with patience, better than league-average power, and a league-average strikeout rate that will play third base, let alone one that will do so on a one-year contract. Only six third baseman managed the feat last season, and none of them were even free agents. One of the six was Alex Rodriguez, and his second hip surgery created the need for Kevin Youkilis to switch sides in the age-old turf war in the Northeast. Remarkably, the Yankees found an almost exact offensive replacement in Youkilis. Check out their last three years: BB% K% ISO Alex Rodriguez 10.1% 18.9% 0.196 Kevin Youkilis 12.1% 18.8% 0.208 So despite being post-peak, Youkilis has retained enough of his power and patience to be a near doppelganger to the man he needs to replace. Because he was coming off his worst year, he was available on a one-year deal that fit the Yankees needs. He didn’t cost prospects like a Michael Young, either. Doesn’t really look like there are any problems here that a quick shave can’t save. The problem does not stem from Youkilis’ talent, instead it comes from his age and that same contract that seems to fit so well. It’s a one-year deal to a 34-year-old third baseman, and it has two outcomes — either Youkilis rebounds and gets a longer-term contract from a team other than the Yankees, or he doesn’t live up to his short-term contract and he won’t be much of an asset to the Yankees next year. Even if the Yankees’ only goal is to get under the $189 million threshold once in 2014, it doesn’t seem likely that either of those Youuk outcomes helps solve what might be a developing long-term need at third base. Alex Rodriguez has managed to remain above average with the bat even as he has declined, but minus a one-year blip in 2011, his glove has begun to become a drag on his value. It’s not a direct line from his position to his age (37) to the myriad injuries that have kept him from 600 plate appearances since 2007, and averaging under 500 since 2010, but it’s likely that a trip down the defensive spectrum would help him stay healthier and help the team defense. And, after two years that ended in hip injuries, the departure date for that trip is approaching rapidly. Despite having the highest-paid third baseman in the league, it looks like the Yankees are developing a long-term need at the position. The fact that Kevin Youkilis will not solve that problem is the only thing standing between this signing and a perfect rating.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Greg Jennings: Ryan Tannehill has had his hands tied by coaches

Josh McDaniels 'happy' with Pats but wants to be a head coach again

WATCH: Jim Harbaugh in cleats throws out first pitch at Cubs game

Why Rickie Fowler will win the PGA Championship

Warren Sapp bitten on arm by shark

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Fitzpatrick, Jets agree to one-year deal

Baker considering removing Papelbon from closer role?

Greg Hardy struggling to find work, reportedly even in CFL

Jets players told not to discuss Ryan Fitzpatrick situation

Brock Lesnar won't be punished by WWE for UFC drug test

Report: Cowboys to be fined up to $250K for suspended players

Report: Ravens WR Mike Wallace failed conditioning test

WATCH: Kobe Bryant drives Ferrari around Italian racetrack

Terrelle Pryor shouts out Ohio State after ban ends

Justin Timberlake advocates for Memphis to join Big 12

Poll: Las Vegas residents don’t support public funds for NFL stadium

Conor McGregor talks trash to Nate Diaz on ‘Conan’

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Real Madrid can’t train at Norwegian school because of the kids

Newspaper uses Michael Jordan ‘crying face’ as image

Equipment manager Blake Griffin punched no longer works for Clippers

Report: Nicks signing one-year deal with Saints

Reds 'picking up the pace' on Jay Bruce trade talks

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker