Youkilis named AL Player of the Week
Hot-swinging first baseman enjoying impressive power surge
There are many words being used to describe the performance of Kevin Youkilis these days. One night he's being characterized as a hitting machine, and the next he's on a power surge. The phrase "going deep" is often followed by "again" when talking about the Red Sox first baseman. But one glance at his numbers show Youkilis fits every one of those statements.
The slugging first baseman hit .375 (12-for-32) last week, leading the American League with five home runs and tying for the American League lead with 10 RBIs to earn him the AL Player of the Week honors, presented by Bank of America.
The 29-year-old, in his fifth season with Boston, posted a .938 slugging percentage and collected three doubles, eight runs and 30 total bases.
"No matter where you put him [in the order], he gives you good at-bats," Mike Lowell said of his teammate. "He produces, and he's a valuable guy to our team."
During a four-game series at Detroit from May 5-8, Youkilis went 6-for-17 with four home runs and seven RBIs, including two home runs on May 7 en route to helping the Red Sox take three of four from the Tigers.
After the series-finale win on Thursday, Youkilis insisted his hitting surge had nothing to do with swing adjustments or a new mind-set at the plate. Rather, the first baseman said he's simply trying to hit balls hard.
"I don't think there's anything to it, other than I'm swinging at some balls and hitting them out," he said. "I'm not trying to; it's just happening. If I could tell you the reason, I would tell you the reason, but there's no reason behind it."
Youkilis' recent home run streak is not a surprise to a Boston lineup that also boasts guys such as Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, but manager Terry Francona said the Red Sox have not tried to get him to hit more long balls.
"We already appreciate his approach," Francona said following yet another win that included a Youkilis home run. "As he grows into a veteran, with 500, 600 at-bats, if he keeps this approach, we'll be happy with whatever he does. You can make mistakes with players, and try to pigeonhole them, want them to be something. His approach is pretty good."
Pretty good might be an understatement, as further evidenced over the weekend in Minnesota, where Youkilis went 6-for-15 with a home run and three RBIs against the Twins. He ended the week with a nine-game hitting streak, including six multi-hit games while the Red Sox won six of nine in that span.
"If you're looking to get paid, you hit more home runs," he said. "I'm just playing. I'm just trying to get hits. It's not like I'm trying to hit home runs. I'm trying to put a good swing on the ball.
"I think when you hit home runs, a lot of times you're squaring the ball up and hitting the ball real well."
Youkilis, selected by Boston in the eighth round of the 2001 First-Year Player Draft, has also collected at least one RBI in five consecutive games and in eight of his last nine.
"I had a hot streak this week in power numbers, but to me, it's just a matter of going out and trying to do the same thing over and over," he said after hearing of the honors. "In this game, even if you've had a good week, you've got to work for today.
"I throw it all aside and try to play the game for today."
This marks the first time this season a Red Sox player has won the weekly honors, which were also awarded to Houston's Lance Berkman for the National League. Other AL nominees for the week included Lowell and Angels teammates Garret Anderson and Ervin Santana.
Jane Lee is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.