Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Jason Kubel the OF vs. Jason Kubel the DH

Kubel's bat is hot to start the year (Photo: Getty Images)
One of the brightest spots in the Minnesota line-up this spring has been the presence of Jason Kubel. To Kubel, last season was a disappointment as he tried to figure out the new confines of Target Field. This made him try to swing for too much power in a park that doesn't give up too many homeruns. The result was the lowest batting average that Kubel has produced at the major league level in a full season.

At this early point in the season, there has been a lot of pressure on Kubel with many of the big bats for the Twins being absent for portions of the schedule. Kubel is either leading the team or tied for the lead in batting average, OPS, and homeruns.

With injuries plaguing the Twins, Kubel has found his name in the middle of the batting order on a daily basis. This also means that Kubel has spent a lot of time roaming the outfield for the hometown nine. Kubel confesses that he feels more comfortable at the plate when he gets to play in the field. From a psychological standpoint, this makes sense. Being involved in every play of the game is going to keep a player more focused on the task at hand.

Let's see if Kubel is right about his performance at the plate. Is he a better hitter when he plays in the outfield for the Twins?

Jason Kubel the Outfielder
Games: 341
AB: 1208
H: 331
BA: .274
R: 172
DBL: 63
HR: 54
RBI: 210
OPS: .804

Jason Kubel the Designated Hitter
Games: 288
AB: 1140
H: 143
BA: .274
R: 143
DBL: 64
HR: 36
RBI: 162
OPS: .797

Kubel has essentially played about one-third less in the DH-spot compared to the outfield role. If you take his average numbers over the course of a third of the season and add them to his DH numbers, his totals would be eerily similar. Here are the adjusted numbers for Kubel if he played the same amount of games at DH as he has played in the outfield.

Adjusted Numbers at DH
Games: 341
H: 192
BA: .274
R: 167
HR: 44
RBI: 192
OPS: .797

As a professional athlete, Jason Kubel wants every chance that he can get to be competing on the field. He wants to be in the outfield and Kubel's current production levels are going to be impossible to keep out of the line-up. However the numbers don't lie; Kubel is basically the same hitter whether he plays outfield or if he is in the designated hitter role.

If Kubel continues at this current pace, fans of the Twins aren't going to care which position that he is penciled in at for the team. They just want more Kubel!

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