As the Twins are coming off of their first series win this season, riding a three-game winning streak, I had to ask myself, where would they be without Jason Kubel? Over the last seven days he is hitting a robust .444 while slugging .611. He hasn’t hit a home run in that stretch, but he does have three doubles and five RBIs in five games. In the two wins against Cleveland he notched four hits and five RBIs. He hit a double that drove in what ended up being the winning runs on Sunday against the Indians.
It sounds like he is starting to figure out Target Field. Last season he struggled mightily there. He hit only 13 doubles there in 68 games, while this season he already has four doubles in just seven games. It appears he has figured out what he can do to be successful at Target Field. Everything I have read suggests Kubel was pressing at Target Field, getting frustrated and trying too hard to hit the ball out of the ballpark. It is somewhat similar to what happened to David Wright in the first season at the Mets’ Citi Field. Wright only hit 10 home runs in 2009, he hit 33 the year before while the Mets were still playing at Shea. He admitted to being frustrated by the way Citi Field was playing and it affected his overall prodution, although he did hit .307. With a year under his belt he was able to make the adjustments in 2010 and return to his former production. In 2010, he ended up hitting 12 home runs at Citi Field and 29 total. I truly think the same thing has happened for Kubel. Now that he knows what it takes to be successful at Target Field I think he will bounce back to his 2009 form.
Right now he is carrying the team offensively and without him the three game winning streak probably wouldn’t exist. Kubel appears to be on track to be the offensive juggernaut he was in 2009, when he paired with Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau to form possibly the most feared trio in the American League.
I love seeing him hitting third in the lineup and I wonder what Gardy will do with the lineup when Joe Mauer does make his return. Gardy never seems comfortable with the three lefties in a row, so it will be interesting to see if he slides Kubel down in the order to accomodate Mauer’s return. I have to think he will slide Kubel back to the 5 spot, but then again Gardy has surprised me before so who knows. I fully expect Kubel to keep hitting no matter where he hits in the order. I look for him to eclipse his career high 35 doubles this year while driving in 100 runs again.
Kubel has been a beast for this team in the past and his 2010 season seems to have left many forgetting his amazing 2009 season. They guy has always been a hitter and the adjustments he has made in 2011 are proof of that for me. He seems very comfortable at the plate and willing to take what the pitchers give him. He doesn’t seem to force the issue by swinging at pitches out of the zone. So far this season he appears locked in and has made pitchers pay when they make mistakes. I look for Mr. Kubel to continue raking and hopefully carrying the Twins to more wins.