July 10, 2012
By Jeff Geiser
CINCINNATI — With Major League Baseball on a three-day breather from the daily grind of its 162-game slate for Tuesday’s All-Star Game, three former University of Cincinnati baseball players are gearing up for the second half of the season with something to prove.
Kevin Youkilis, Josh Harrison and Tony Campana have all enjoyed various degrees of success so far in 2012, but with 85 days until the final day of the regular season, their teams’ fates are to be determined.
The following is a breakdown of how each player has performed to this point and where his team stands through Tuesday’s Midsummer Classic.
Youkilis, the elder “MLBearcat” now in his eighth season, had a rough start to 2012. The 33-year-old corner infielder and Cincinnati native hit just .233 (34 for 146) with 25 runs, seven doubles, one triple, four home runs and 14 RBIs while missing 30 of the Boston Red Sox’ first 72 games mostly due to injury. On June 24, Youkilis was traded to the Chicago White Sox, where he has since experienced an offensive renaissance, doubling his RBI total to 28 while batting .347 (17 for 49) with nine runs, two doubles, three homers and a .418 on-base percentage in only 13 ballgames.
In his third game with Chicago on June 27, the three-time American League All-Star went 3 for 4 with one run and two RBIs in a 12-5 win at Minnesota. One week later, Youkilis hit 3 for 6 with three runs, a homer and four RBIs in a 19-2 rout of the two-time defending AL Champion, Texas Rangers. On the very next night, Youkilis came up big again, hitting a 10th-inning walk-off single to give the White Sox a 5-4 triumph over Texas.
Youkilis and the White Sox (47-38) currently sit in first place in the AL Central Division, three games ahead of the Cleveland Indians.
In his second season in the big leagues, Harrison has proven to be an invaluable commodity for the first-place Pittsburgh Pirates, who at 48-37 are one game ahead of the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central Division standings. The 25-year-old utility player has seen action at second base, third base, shortstop and all three outfield positions, as well as served as the designated hitter in 2012. On the season, Harrison is batting .230 (28 for 122) with 18 runs, seven doubles, three triples, two home runs, nine RBIs and five steals.
On May 13, his 12th-inning walk-off RBI single gave the Pirates a 3-2 win over the Astros. Three days later, Harrison hit 2 for 4 with a home run and a career-high-tying three RBIs in a 7-4 loss at Washington. On June 19, the Cincinnati native went 3 for 5 with a homer and three runs scored in Pittsburgh’s 7-2 win over Minnesota.
Despite appearing in just 52 of a possible 85 games, Harrison is tied for ninth in the National League with five sacrifice hits.
The Chicago Cubs have had a rough season to this point in 2012. With a 33-52 ledger, they are already 15 games out of first place behind the Pirates in the NL Central. One bright spot for the club has been the play of Campana, who is tied for second in the NL in stolen bases with 25 despite playing in just 60 of 85 team games.
The 26-year-old outfielder from Springboro, Ohio also ranks fourth in sacrifice hits (7), seventh in stolen-base percentage (89.29), and is tied for first in all of MLB with a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage.
On the season Campana is hitting .272 (41 for 151) with 20 runs scored, five doubles, five RBIs. He boasts seven games with at least two stolen bases, including a three-steal performance June 12 vs. Detroit. Campana also has 10 multi-hit games to his credit, which includes a career-high-tying three-hit day in the Cubs’ 8-2 win at Milwaukee May 13.