Is Youk done?

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - There's a reason Kevin Youkilis' mlb.com video archive yields just two clips from the 2012 regular season, both defensive.

No one wants to watch clips of a pudgy man hitting infield practice.

Youkilis has been a one-man ground ball machine this season, providing valuable opportunities for Boston opponents Detroit and Toronto to work on their infield defense.

In 20 plate appearances, Youkilis has a ground ball-fly ball ratio (G/F) of 5.50. He's hit into two double plays and struck out six times.

Currently, his batting average sits at .100 (2-for-20) and his slugging percentage at .150.

What's worse is that Youkilis, a player who could always be counted on for a near-.400 on-base percentage, has walked zero times this season.

The third baseman has also averaged just 111 games played over the past two seasons, which raises the question: is Youk done?

Coming into the season, fantasy owners clearly didn't think so, as he was drafted 65th overall on average in Yahoo leagues.

However, this trend of producing a ton of ground balls didn't just start on Opening Day this year. Youkilis had a G/F of 1.09 in 2011 after never registering above 0.79 in any of the previous six seasons.

That type of G/F is fine for a speed demon such as Brett Gardner or Michael Bourn, but for Youkilis, it means way more outs.

Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine is still penciling Youkilis in the heart of the Boston lineup - he has batted fourth twice and fifth three times this season. But how long before Valentine juggles his lineup and drops Youk down in the order? Boston is not exactly setting the world on fire right now, starting off 1-5, so Valentine may feel the pressure to make changes.

Youkilis is in no danger of losing his job, as his backup is Nick Punto, but how much longer can his body hold up as the everyday third baseman?

Youkilis is a former Gold Glove first baseman, contributing a UZR above 7.8 twice in his career. However, after moving to third to accommodate Adrian Gonzalez last season, Youkilis registered a UZR of -2.3.

Youkilis' body may not be able to handle the grind of playing 150 games at third base, and even if he does stay healthy, what will that grind do to his bat?

What's more disconcerting is that in his career, Youkilis has shown a propensity for slowing down over the course of the season (.299/.401/.515 pre All-Star break, .270/.370/.449 post All-Star break).

Don't drop him outright, as his name, team and lineup position still carry value in all leagues, but shop him hard until you find a taker who's banking on a turnaround.

You can likely wait a few more games to see if Youkilis starts to hit, but keep a seller's mentality and don't wait so long that you can no longer convince another owner that his slump is just a poor start rather than a long- term decline.

Based on the trends that began last season, I just don't see a reversal of fortune happening for Youkilis in 2012.


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