If you had to name the five best American League hitters, based on wOBA, who would you throw out there? Most would probably guess Carlos Quentin, Milton Bradley, Alex Rodriguez and J.D. Drew, but who's the fifth player who actually ranks third? For a guy who was drooled over in Moneyball and featured heavily on a pretty good team Kevin Youkilis' season is wacky and under the radar.
Entering this season Youkilis' walk rates were 13.8% and 12.7% when greeted with substantial playing time, but this season the Greek God of Walks is down to 9.1%. Amongst the most discipline hitters in the game Youkilis had O-Swing percentages of 15.10% and 17.36% the past two seasons, this year he's at 23.07%. Youkilis is making more contact out of the zone yet it doesn't really explain why his homerun/flyball% has jumped to about 15%. Youkilis BABIP is a bit high even with 21.7% liners, but in his career his BABIP is usually a bit higher than expected.
So Youkilis has changed his approach and is finding more success (or at least more power) with it. I'm interested to see if this is simply a case of correlation/causation or if there really is something to it.