A Look into Jason Kubel
Ronnie Tellalian | On 05, Sep 2013
With the Indians sitting six and a half games out of the Central Division with 24 games left in the season, they are now chasing after one of the two wild card spots available in the American League. They are three and a half games behind in the race and were looking to improve the team in some way. With not a lot of money available to them, their options were limited. A few moves were made, mostly for depth, but the biggest of them was the addition of Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Jason Kubel.
The idea behind the move is to platoon Kubel in right field with Drew Stubbs, and use him as a left handed designated hitter. The downside to that is Kubel has struggled through a bad season. Last season, Kubel had one of the best years of his career, he hit a career high 30 home runs, scored a career high 75 runs, and drove in 90 runs. He has had some good seasons for the Twins in the past, and the Indians are banking on a comeback. Even if he continues to struggle, the Indians gave up next to nothing to get him, so it is a low coast move.
One aspect of this decision is Kubel’s platoon split. Presumably, much of his playing time will come against right handed pitchers. For his career, Kubel has a .271 batting average against right handed starters and a .276 average against all right handed pitchers. A total of 118 of his 139 career home runs have come off of right handed pitching as well.
On days Kubel does play, he will most likely take a spot from Drew Stubbs or Jason Giambi. Versus right handed pitching, Stubbs has a career slash line of .226/.298/.355, and against starting right handed pitching, it is just about the same at .231/.296/.358. Giambi has excellent career numbers against righties, with a slash of .284/.409/.538. Much of those numbers have come from a fantastic offensive career, but Giambi is not the hitter he once was. This season, his numbers against righties looks a lot worse, .192/.279/.378. Kubel will be an upgrade in either spot against right handed pitching.
Through his first three games for the Indians, Kubel has done very well. It is a tiny sample size, but 24 games is a small sample and one or two hot weeks can mean the difference in the Indians going home early or playing into October. Kubel has a .400 batting average in his first three games with the Indians. He was gotten on base at a .625 clip and slugged .600. He will certainly not be able to keep those numbers up, but if he can perform at a league average level for the remaining games of the season, it will help the team out tremendously and give the Indians a very good return for their investment.
At 31 years old, Kubel is by no means an elderly player. He is not that far removed from consistently solid season that are comparable to players like Cody Ross, Ryan Ludwick, and Marty Cordova. This season was his first really poor season of his career and just maybe the move from the American League to the National League played a big part. There is a chance he can come back and have a solid month and help propel the Indians into the playoffs. The Indians had to do something to help the offense, and there were very few options available, they did what they could; now it is up to the players. Kubel was a big part of the Twins success and Tribe fans are hoping he can now be a part of the Indians success.
Photo: David Kohl/AP Photo