Kevin Youkilis

Kevin Youkilis was a central character in the 2003 book Moneyball not for what he accomplished as a major league ballplayer, but for what Billy Beane and his statistical Nostradamus thought he might do in the big leagues. He was dubbed “Euclis, The Greek God of Walks” for his ability to draw bases on balls. In 2004 when he debuted with the Boston Red Sox, Youkilis  was named Rookie Player of the Month for May when he posted a .446 on-base percentage. He earned a World Series ring in part-time duty that season, but three years later he got another one as a major part of the Boston club.

He was quoted as telling sportswriter Gordon Edes in 2006 that “Fighting off pitches, fouling off pitches, laying off pitches, making it so the opposing pitcher can’t breathe; that’s my job.”

That’s what Youkilis has done throughout his career, while also playing the game in a fiery demeanor that endeared him to Red Sox Nation. In 2007 he hit .340 with men on base and posted a .390 OBP with 83 RBI. He hit four home runs and had 10 RBI in 14 post-season games as the Sox won their second title in four seasons. He had an even better regular season in 2008 when he finished third in American League Most Valuable Player voting.

Departure from Boston amid controversy
In 2011, the Boston Red Sox suffered a late season collapse and missed making the playoffs on the final day of the season when they blew a lead against the Baltimore Orioles in the ninth inning. The team lost 16 of 21 games to end the season, losing their grip in the wild card spot. Soon after the season concluded, reports emerged that certain pitchers were spending time in the clubhouse drinking and playing video games on days that they weren’t slated to pitch. As a result of the collapse and the revelation that he’d lost control of his clubhouse, manager Tito Francona was fired. It later came out that Youkilis was one of the sources for the clubhouse information. His “snitching” didn’t sit well with some of his teammates, and in spring training under new manager Bobby Valentine, things continued to brew. Valentine questioned whether Youkilis was ready to play mentally or physically. Youkilis reacted angrily and had a sit-down meeting with the new manager and his new GM. Early in the season, when Youkilis struggled at the plate, Valentine replaced him with third base prospect Will Middlebrooks. On June 24, the Red Sox traded Youkilis to the Chicago White Sox for Zach Stewart and Brent Lillibridge. His exit from Boston was unceremonious and many fans blamed Valentine for flaring up the situation.