Clobbering Kubel? Will He Be Worth Using In 2010?

Jason Kubel has long been considered a player on the verge of breaking out and providing power for the Twins and fantasy owners, but in 2009 he finally realized that potential at 27-years old.  Just look at the line he posted last season:

514 At Bats
.300 Batting Average (154 Hits)
28 Home Runs
103 RBI
73 Runs
1 Stolen Bases
.369 On Base Percentage
.539 Slugging Percentage
.332 Batting Average on Balls in Play

What you need to know:

  • He continued to struggle against left-handed pitchers, hitting .243 with 2 HR and 20 RBI over 148 AB.  That continues the trend he’s had:
    • 2008 – .232, 3 HR, 17 RBI in 99 AB
    • 2007 – .236, 1 HR, 8 RBI in 72 AB
  • The team did bring in Jim Thome, who could take a few of his at bats, though he is no better against left-handed pitchers. In ’09, he hit .209 in 91 AB. That makes the signing seem a little bit odd, doesn’t it?
  • His flyball rate was consistent with his ’08 mark, going from 40.6% to 41.6%. It was is HR/FB that rose, at 16.3% compared to his career mark at 13.7%. It wouldn’t be surprising to see his power either remain consistent or fall slightly. Expecting a further increase could be a mistake.
  • It’s hard to imagine him repeating a .300 average, given his strikeout rate (at 20.6% in ’09 and 19.7% for his career). His career BABIP is at .309 and he likely won’t repeat the luck he had in ’09. His average isn’t going to hurt, but I wouldn’t expect it to help either.
  • The RBI should continue, hitting fifth in a lineup behind Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. Those players are going to be on base a lot, giving him ample opportunity.
  • The runs scored is the big problem, especially from an outfielder. While the Twins have improved the bottom of their order, with the addition of J.J. Hardy, it’s still hard to picture Kubel scoring significantly more runs than he did last season. Last season there were 40 outfielders who scored 75 runs or more. That doesn’t include players like Andrew McCutchen, Nyjer Morgan, Grady Sizemore and Dexter Fowler, all of whom are nearly guaranteed to easily reach that level, assuming they stay healthy. That significantly puts him behind the rest of the class, doesn’t it?

2010 Projection:
.280 (140-500), 27 HR, 95 RBI, 75 R, 1 SB, .301 BABIP, .353 OBP, .506 SLG

Final Thoughts:
While I’d love to say that Kubel is a must use in all formats, that line just doesn’t justify it.  In smaller formats he’s a solid bench option, or he could be drafted as a fourth outfielder in five outfielder formats.  Outside of that, the upside unfortunately just isn’t there to justify using him.

What are your thoughts?  Could he be used in smaller formats?  What are you expecting from him in ’10?

Make sure to order your copy of the Rotoprofessor 2010 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide, selling for just $5, by clicking here.

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18 comments

  1. PaullyBoston says:

    What would be people’s thoughts on grabbing him as a platoon type guy? Those numbers vs. righties are pretty darn solid, (.322 Avg, 26HR, 62 Runs, 83RBI in only like 366ABs). Then if you maybe used a bench bat, maybe someone with some speed, in those games in which he faces the lefties.

    So you play like Kubel for the roughly 105 games vs. righties, supplement that with a late round speed guy, maybe like a Rajai Davis/Julio Borbon type, for like 45 games or so.
    Maybe squeeze out 20R, 8RBI, 1HR, 10-14 SBs.

    Would give you possible ending numbers somewhere maybe around 85R, 91RBI, 27HR, and like 15SBs, .285 Avg?

    From projections I have seen, kind of similiar to Jason Werth almost (some better avg here, giving up some power) at a small fraction of the cost.

    Not saying that my stats are 100% correct, just looking at this during my lunch break, but just wanted to throw it out there. Could get a lot of value at the 3rd OF or Util slot for very cheap price.

  2. SeaWolf says:

    I don’t agree with your final thoughts. If you take your projected figures for Kubel and compare them to last year’s actual OF data he would be 11th in HR’s and 13th in RBI’s. And his AVG or OBP (depending upon what your league uses) won’t hurt you.

    All that in 140 games (my estimate of your GP projection). Then you get to add 22 games of a replacement level OF, say 10R, 3HR, and 10RBI. That leaves you with 30HR, 85R, 105RBI an AVG or OBP that won’t hurt you, and 1 measely SB. Get your SB’s somewhere else and your left with a top 30 OF on the cheap.

  3. Finite24 says:

    I love your projections but I’ve never seen one I like less than this one. Where do I begin?

    I understand your qualms about his BABIP, but watch him hit. He is a 20% LD% kind of hitter who has an aptitude for going gap to gap. The addition of Thome has been interpreted to mean that he’ll see some more ABs in LF than at DH this year with Delmon riding the pine. Kubel’s careers splits for DH vs. LF are noteworthy. He tends to hit much better when he sees time in the field. I just don’t see much of a chance that he’ll hit .280. I can’t justify that as a 50 percentile projection and most likely outcome. I can see him hitting .285. I can also see him hitting .325.

    Some people are downgrading a few of the Twins hitters because of the ballpark change, and I’d buy that if it weren’t for the design of the stadium. But looking at that place, I have to wonder whether the ball is going to take off to right ala the new Yankee Stadium. In fact, I’ll go as far as to speculate that THAT is why they brought Thome onboard. Think Yankee stadium caters to lefties, wait til you see this place and what Mauer, Morneau, Kubel, Thome do in it. I think it will at least negate the effects of the bitter cold.

    Projection: .295/25/120/80

  4. Finite24 says:

    I basically strongly dislike your RBI and batting projections. They seem to be at the bottom 25 percentile. I think there is little chance he doesn’t far exceed 100 RBI if healthy. He only has two .400+ OBP guys ahead of him with the potential addition of Orlando Hudson (a .360 OBP guy) to come.

  5. MDS says:

    Kubel is a doubles hitter. His projection is fine. They didnt sign Thome to bench Delmon, that is just a few of the news sites ideas of how to get Thome more at bats. The truth is, Thome was a dirt cheap buy and offers great insurance for the oft injured Morneau and Kubel. Do not pay full price for Kubel

  6. Gardy will sit young any chance he gets. The dude drives him crazy the way he plays defense. Carlos Gomez got plenty of opportunities last year despite having no bat to speak of.

    I like Kubel this year. Are your estimates a little off? Perhaps. I think they are much more likely than .325 or 120 like some here speculated.

    I think he gets to 30 HRs and maybe 110 RBIs. .300 seems like a good mark for him. Compared to your numbers, though, that’s just nitpicking.

  7. Jimmy says:

    I can’t argue with that projection. Kubel reached a career HR/FB rate last season and while he will hit for some nice power, I don’t see him eclipsing 30 HR really. I don’t have a problem with that batting average projection either and the RBI’s seem about right. I wouldn’t mind him on my team, but I”m definitely not reaching for him just because he had a career year last season.

  8. Aaron says:

    Projection seems about right. Do we know where he’s being drafted though? I wouldn’t draft him too high because he is still somewhat unproven.

    Last season I used him as a platoon guy and he was great.

  9. Rotoprofessor says:

    Aaron, he’s currently being drafted around pick 120, meaning the end of the 10th round.

    I like the idea everyone has of platooning him with another option, but is that really what you want from a 10th round pick?

  10. Finite24 says:

    All I was saying is that his numbers for batting average and RBI are at the very low end of his likely output and I don’t see any reason not to draft this guy. Predictability is very valuable and this guys splits have been very consistent. Start him whenever he plays LF or whenever he faces RHP (that’s most of the time). Sit him when he DHs against LHP and plug someone else. Last year I platooned him with Juan Rivera (predictable splits against LHP) and got ~.320/35/120 numbers from my third outfield spot.

  11. Finite24 says:

    considering he’s going to see 80% of the ABs in that platoon, and you can take his platoonmate in the 21st round, then yea. I’m willing to spend an early 11th round pick and a 21st round pick to end up with SOLID 2nd OF numbers.

  12. Finite24 says:

    in fact, i wouldnt even draft whoever i was going to platoon him with. Just add some scrub off the wire who is facing a favorable matchup whenever Kubel is up against a lefty.

  13. BLAZE says:

    Pair him with Kyle Blanks.

    But i dont see him being as good as last year. His BABIP was ridiculously high for him and he was alot worse with his contact %’s. Im guessing his average flys back around his career norm.

  14. BLAZE says:

    Jay Bruce
    Carlos Gonzalez
    Andrew Bailey
    Wandy Rodriguez
    Chad Billingsley
    Brandon Webb

    are being picked within 1-14 picks behind Kubel. I think im more interested in some of those guys then Kubel (a guy some want to platoon).

  15. Finite24 says:

    I’d take Kubel over Bruce, Bailey on that list. I’ll take Kubel’s 30+ points in batting average and 20+ RBI in exchange for 7 SB and 6 HR. Bailey’s underlying peripherals indicate he’s not quite as good as he’ll be last year. Kubel has scouting reports to trump any speculation that last year was a fluke (those scouting reports put his bat ahead of Morneau’s).

  16. Finite24 says:

    Bruce = 80/.265/33/98/8 as his high end. Kubel = 85/.295/27/120/1 as his most likely outcome with a REAL possiblity of a 90/.320/30/125/1 season. He’s adding Hudson’s .365 OBP in place of Cabrera’s .318 OBP. I believe in the RBI. He’s got Cuddyer and Thome (or a much improved Delmon Young) hitting behind him. That’ll equal more runs.

  17. BLAZE says:

    What makes you think Kubel’s going to have 120-125 rbis? 320 Avg? really? 320 avg…

    think 280’s

  18. Bryan says:

    You guys go ahead, listen to the analysis, and pass on him. I’ll take him!

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