December 28, 2012
The Keeper Reaper
Outfielders for 12/28/12
Owning Jason Kubel last year was a lot like being the aptly named (since this is a baseball article) Tom Hanson from 500 Days of Summer. If you jump between different days of his season, one day you’re running gleefully through IKEA but on the next you discover the sink is broken, all your sinks are broken. Moving from plumbing back to baseball, for Kubel this means his season was very bipolar. The week of July 15 he was the hottest hitter in the game while swatting five homers, yet in August and September he couldn’t manage to hit above .200.
Overall, Kubel paid great dividends to his owners who drafted him late, posting a career-high 30 homers, 90 RBI, and a palatable .253 average. The distribution of his numbers was less than fortunate, however, with almost none of the production coming in the latter two months. For owners looking to Kubel for help down the stretch, he was not of service, and to anyone who traded for him near the trading deadline, I apologize on his behalf.
Interestingly, at 30 years old, Kubel learned a new trick, namely hitting opposite field home runs. In 2012, he hit nine the other way—about as many as he had in his previous six seasons combined. Hitting more opposite field home runs doesn’t guarantee a player more homers overall; but being able to take an outside pitch deep can only help one’s power game so long as it doesn’t come at the expense of turning on inside pitches one would otherwise take deep. Seeing how Kubel still pulled plenty of homers as well, I’d bet he can approach 30 homers again in 2013, especially in his hitter-friendly Arizona confines.
Despite his power output, Kubel tends to lack in the runs and steals departments, keeping his value outside the top 100 players. In NL-only leagues, I’d also be wary of keeping him given the trade rumors about him heading to an AL club like the Rangers, Yankees, or Rays. Even if he doesn’t get moved before the season starts, you can bet his name will pop up again in July if the D’Backs aren’t contending.