While Justin Morneau has put himself on pace for career numbers and Joe Mauer has put himself on pace for historical numbers, the third wheel in the Minnesota Twins’ left-handed combination has been widely overlooked.
Jason Kubel entering the season had career highs of 20 homeruns and 78 runs batted in. With yet another productive game in the series opener with Cleveland on Friday night, Kubel continued to make progress toward a career year.
Kubel currently has 20 homeruns to match his career high, and is only 10 RBI shy of his career high in that category. With 46 games remaining in the season, Kubel finds himself on pace for 29 homeruns, 100 RBI, and quite possibly most impressive, a .312 batting average.
No doubt already overlooked behind Morneau and Mauer, Kubel has been overlooked among everyday designated hitters as well. Out of seven qualified designated hitters, Kubel finds himself at the top or in the upper tier in most categories.
The numbers include totals from games where the players have moved into other positions on occasion, and while Kubel is behind Adam Lind of Toronto in the homerun and RBI departments, he has nearly 80 fewer at-bats.
With Kubel playing in the outfield on occasion, his numbers at the plate can be compared to other outfielders. Nelson Cruz was an American League All-Star this season, and Kubel stacks up quite well:
While Kubel has hit five fewer homeruns, he has outdone Cruz in the batting average category by over 40 points and has 10 more RBI. He also has a higher slugging percentage and his on-base percentage is nearly 50 points higher.
Stacked up against his fellow designated hitters and All-Star Nelson Cruz, Kubel proves to be no slouch. Amongst all American Leaguers, Kubel ranks 10th in batting average, 7th in OPS, and 6th in slugging.
On pace for career numbers, totals that will place him near the 30/100 mark if correctly projected, Kubel has been one of the league’s best. Nonetheless, he has been lost by the general baseball fans behind superstars Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer.