Kevin Youkilis, John Grabow, and Gabe Kapler — previewed here in the 2009 card set — were recognized as the Major League’s best Jewish players by JewishMajorLeaguers.org. Photos courtesy JewishMajorLeaguers.org
January 1, 2009
Boston Red Sox infielder Kevin Youkilis might have come up short for the official Most Valuable Player award, but he’s a winner in the eyes of JewishMajorLeaguers.org.
The not-for-profit educational organization, whose mission is to celebrate the contributions of Jews to America’s national pastime, named Youkilis the “JMVP” — Jewish MVP — for 2008, beating out fellow all-stars Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers and the Texas Rangers’ Ian Kinsler for the honor.
Youkilis, who finished third in the American League MVP voting, hit 29 home runs, drove in 129 runs, batted .312, and was among the league leaders in several offensive categories. He also set a Major League record by playing in 238 consecutive errorless games at first base, a streak that began in 2006. That he moved to third base in the middle of the season is another measure of his value.
Braun, the 2007 NL Rookie of the Year, also finished third in his league’s MVP race. He also switched positions, giving up his third base spot to move to left field. He blasted 37 homes runs with 106 RBI and a batting average that dropped below the .300 mark (.285) due to a sore shoulder during the last month-plus of the season. His home run in the final regular season game gave the Brewers the Wild Card spot over the New York Mets.
Kinsler, who was used mostly in the Rangers’ leadoff spot, was enjoying a great year — batting .316 with 17 home runs, 76 RBI, and 102 runs scored — before he missed the last six weeks of the season with an injury.
Pittsburgh reliever John Grabow edged Minnesota’s Craig Breslow for the Barney Pelty Award for Jewish Pitcher of the Year. Pelty, who pitched for the St. Louis Browns in the early 1900s, is the all-time Jewish earned run average leader with a mark of 2.63. Grabow had a 6-3 record with four saves in 74 appearances for the Pirates, posting a 2.84 ERA.
Kapler, who had retired as an active player and was managing in the minor leagues in 2007, was the unanimous winner of JML’s Comeback Player of the Year award. He hit .301 in 96 games for the Brewers last season.
In an e-mail to NJ Jewish News, Kapler said “It’s great to be recognized by the Jewish community for a solid season. My thanks go out to JML!”
For more information, visit www.jewishmajorleaguers.org.