Quick Takes on Fuentes, Kubel

First off, despite the fact Fuentes and Kubel are the subjects, this post has nothing to do with the growing list of injured players on the squad. If you're interested in the infirmary report, check out Jon Marthaler's post below.

Second off, kudos to Adam Peterson for posting an article on baserunning that perfectly previewed the terrible judgment Ullger showed last night (yet again). And, yes, it's been confirmed that Ullger sent Kubel

Now, onto my post...

Brian Fuentes

This is my first post since the Twins acquired Brian Fuentes, so I thought I'd throw in my two cents: great move, obviously, and one that has the potential to pay huge dividends in the postseason (If, in fact, the Twins make the postseason. No one here is counting their chickens before they hatch).

As many have noted, Fuentes has been murder on lefties this season, and throughout his career. That talent is extremely important in high-leverage, late-inning situations, especially in the postseason when you're routinely facing some of the best left-handed hitters in baseball.

While I'm typically not one to pay much attention to past batter vs. pitcher match-ups, I couldn't resist compiling a list of left-handed hitters the Twins could possibly see in the postseason (IF we make it to October). See the chart after the jump.

Player

AB

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

K

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

Robinson Canó

4

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0.250

0.250

0.250

0.500

Curtis Granderson

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0.000

0.000

0.000

0.000

Carl Crawford

5

1

1

0

0

2

0

0

0.200

0.200

0.400

0.600

John Jaso

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0.000

0.000

0.000

0.000

Matt Joyce

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

---

0.000

---

---

Carlos Peña

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

---

1.000

---

---

Julio Borbón

2

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0.000

0.000

0.000

0.000

Josh Hamilton

3

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0.000

0.000

0.000

0.000

David Murphy

3

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0.000

0.000

0.000

0.000

TOTAL

19

2

1

0

0

3

1

2

0.105

0.150

0.158

0.308

That list contains some pretty darn good left-handed hitters, including the two leading AL MVP candidates. As a group, they've hit a combined .105 off of Fuentes.

Now let's just hope his back lets him pitch.

Jason Kubel

Jason Kubel has had a terribly disappointing season thus far in 2010, with his OPS dipping more than 120 points from last year. It's worth noting, however, that in a lot of ways, Kubel's 2010 looks like a return to form rather than a major step backwards. Here's what I mean:

Season

BB%

ISO

BABIP

wOBA

2007

8.80%

0.177

0.305

0.342

2008

9.10%

0.199

0.295

0.345

2009

9.70%

0.239

0.327

0.383

2010

10.60%

0.185

0.292

0.338

Here are those last three columns in graph form:

Kubelgraph_medium

See what I mean? Last year, Kubel took a major leap forward offensively, with a huge spike in both his batting average and power numbers. Considering his age (27 last season) and pre-catastrophic knee injury pedigree, his numbers had many Twins fans thinking we were seeing the young slugger finally hit his stride in the majors. Now, however, with just a month left to play in the season, Kubel's 2010 totals have regressed to essentially the same level they were in 2007 and 2008.

Now take a look at his lefty/righty splits for the past four seasons:

Season

OPS vs. LHP

OPS vs. RHP

2007

0.667

0.810

2008

0.704

0.833

2009

0.643

1.014

2010

0.647

0.849

We now see where the spike in Kubel's 2009 numbers came from: a huge upswing in production against right-handed pitching, which has seemed to evaporate in 2010.

What do we make of this? Well, I don't think we have nearly enough information to say 2009 was a fluke, given that Kubel is still in his prime and we don't yet have enough data to accurately judge how Target Field is impacting hitters. But, at this point, it does appear to be something of an outlier, fueled by both a big spike in power and a 30 point BABIP jump. The big question is: has this just been a down year for Kubel, or have we seen him return to his baseline level of production?

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