Kevin Youkilis

JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — Lower back strain. Hip bursitis. A hernia that will require off-season surgery.

Much like last year, injuries have kept slugger Kevin Youkilis out of the Boston Red Sox lineup for a good chunk of 2011. Through Wednesday, the 32-year-old infielder had sat out 36 games and was on pace to have his second fewest at-bats since 2005.

Evidence of the strain has been greatest on his batting average. A career .289 hitter who topped .300 each of his past three seasons, Youkilis currently is batting a career-low .258 and already has grounded into a career-high 14 double plays.

But a statistical review suggests the three-time All-Star’s performance is more a function of injuries than age, though the two certainly are related.

Consider these points made by Jewish Baseball News reader “AK”:

  • At the All-Star break, Youkilis was hitting .285 with a .399 on-base percentage and .512 slugging percentage, on par with his career averages.
  • He has fallen off dramatically since then, batting .199 with an OBP of .314 and SLP of .346. As AK says, “One doesn’t get old suddenly. So something is up.”
  • Youkilis is hitting far better at Fenway Park — “where presumably he has his trainer/chiropractor/etc.,” AK says — than on the road. At home, he’s batting .320 with a .426 OBP and .563 SLP this season. Away, he’s hitting a mere .191 with a .317 OBP and .349 SLP.

Even ailing, Youkilis has driven in more runs this season (80) than any MLB player with 450 or fewer at-bats. If his body is willing, 2012 could be a great season.

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