Five things to think about

April, 6, 2010
4/06/10
12:37
PM ET
Here are five things to think about during Tuesday night’s game between the Yankees and Red Sox at Fenway Park, all courtesy of Bill James’ 2010 Gold Mine:

1. A.J. Burnett, who is starting for the Yankees, threw more curve balls (1,067) in 2009 than the entire staffs of the Cubs (963) and Indians (508). Burnett throws his curveball 31 percent of the time, compared to 66 percent fastballs.

2. The first three hitters in the Yankees’ lineup last season combined to score 365 runs while driving in 307, both totals the highest in baseball. For most of the season, that meant Johnny Damon, hitting in between Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira. Nick Johnson has replaced Damon in the No. 2 hole. Sunday night, he went 0 for 2, with two walks, and did not score. Jeter had two singles and drove in a run, while Teixeira was 0 for 4 with a walk and run scored.

3. After six years in the majors, Kevin Youkilis’ OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) has not gone down. His OPS line reads: .780, .805, .810, .843, .958, .961. That’s five straight seasons in which he has improved. The record is six, held by 13 players, the most recent being David Ortiz (2002-07).

4. Sunday night, the Yankees executed a double steal against the Sox, Brett Gardner credited with a steal of home while Derek Jeter cruised into second. The Red Sox in 2009 allowed 151 stolen bases while throwing out only 23 runners attempting to steal. That’s the worst stolen-base percentage allowed (86.8 percent) in the AL in at least 50 years, which is as far back as records are kept. The only big-league team to do worse was the 2007 Padres.

5. The Sox have never had a career first baseman. The most seasons a Sox player has played first base regularly is 7, by Mo Vaughn (1992-98).

“The position has been played, for almost all of Red Sox history, by people who came in and were there for a couple of years and then were gone, like Kevin Millar and Dick Stuart and Mickey Vernon and Bill Buckner,’’ James writes.

James asserts that if Youkilis can play the rest of his career at first, with similar results, he will be the best first baseman the team has ever had. Right now, he ranks Vaughn first, with Jimmie Foxx a close second.

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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