Jason Kubel appears to be living up to those lofty expectations placed on his shoulders as a prospect in the Minnesota Twins’ minor league system.
Kubel has combined with fellow left-handed hitters Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau to give the Twins a formidable trio of southpaw-swinging sluggers.
The South Dakota native was once considered the top hitting prospect in the Twins’ system before missing an entire season with a knee injury in 2005. It’s taken a little longer than expected, but steady improvement in each season since leads one to believe that he’s getting there.
On the season, Kubel is batting .333 with five homers and 20 RBIs. He’s slugging a whopping .555 this year.
But it’s when he gets his hits that counts.
Kubel went 3-for-4 in Thursday’s win over Detroit, just one night after hitting a game-tying home run in the late innings of another win against the Tigers. He also hit a go-ahead grand slam to cap a cycle in a Twins comeback earlier this season.
He’s a career .438 hitter with the bases loaded, including five grand slams, in just 32 at-bats.
Kubel’s numbers against left-handed pitching this year and for his career are not pretty (.234 against LHP for career; .190 for this season). He’s still best used as a platoon, but what’s wrong with that?
And as for the concern of hitting three lefties in Mauer, Morneau and Kubel in a row, yeah, it can create matchup concerns for the Twins when facing a situation lefty in the eighth inning. But what about the first seven innings?
I say if you’re facing a right-handed pitcher, why not put your best three hitters in a row and try to build a lead big enough where that eighth-inning situational lefty isn’t going to matter.