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Kubel Turning the Corner?

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Consistent playing time has been translating to success at the plate.

On April 23, Jason Kubel began playing everyday.  He went 0-for-4 that game, dropping to .227/.271/.295.  Over the six games since Kubel has gone 8-for-25, hitting .320/.320/.440.  While it's gone a long ways toward bringing his overall line back to a respectful total, it's still a distance from his minor league line of .320/.385/.499.  With regular at-bats he's looked more comfortable in the box, and it's showing in his at-bats.  In the last six games he's struck out only twice, and when he hits the ball he hits it hard to any field.

If there's one area that could greatly improve Kubel's offensive impact, it's patience.  In the minors he neither walked nor struck out very often, matching 187 free passes to only 207 strikeouts in 1654 at-bats (11.1% strikeout rate).  So far this plate discipline hasn't translated to the majors, where's he's been fanned on 17.6% of his plate appearances.  Still, this wouldn't be so bad if he learned to take more walks.

We've all seen him circle the wagons in the field over the month of April.  From right-angle paths tracking down a routine fly ball, to misjudging the trajectory of a line drive, it hasn't been pretty.  Fortunately, he'll only continue to improve in left field given consistent time, and his arm is stronger than Rondell White and Shannon Stewart's arms combined.  Kubel's defense will get better.

In an offense desperately seeking out a man who will give the lineup menace outside of the 3-6 hitters, Jason Kubel is the most likely candidate.  He certainly has the raw skills necessary to grow into an offensive star, with a track record of good averages and isolated power.  Now that his knees are feeling better and his career can get back on track, perhaps Kubel can turn into the hitter many of us hoped he would be.

How good will Kubel become?