Monday, May 27, 2024

Kep Ladder


Max Kepler has been with the Minnesota Twins for 10 seasons, and recently played his 1000th game as a major leaguer. You forget he's been around that long. Buxton's been around for just as long but he's only gotten through a season without getting injured for 60 or more games ONE TIME. Kepler has been much more consistent, despite the occasional 15-day IL stint. 

In those 10 seasons, Kepler has accumulated 21.3 WAR, 833 hits, 484 RBIs and 157 home runs. He's not one of the best in the league, and he's not a Hall of Famer. Hell, he's never even been an all-star, and to be perfectly honest if Bruce Bochy has room this year it'd be a wise idea to include him. But what Kepler is is steady, consistent and reliable. Even in seasons where the Twins haven't competed, Kepler's been there to hit stuff. He's not quite a contact hitter, as the .238 average could tell you, but he's very good at hitting for power, and he's great at launching hits fast enough to evade defensemen. Kepler so far this season has a .303 average, a rarity for him, and has 18 RBIs and 4 homers, plus an .892 OPS, which is the real difference maker.

That said, it's extremely funny given the Bomba rebellion of 2019 that a more contact-friendly guy like Kepler is more vital to this specific Twins team than somebody like Buxton. Buxton hasn't done a ton at the plate so far, but I think his emphasis is more toward power still, while Kepler is hitting for average and showing his versatility. The guys with the higher OPSs on this team, namely Kepler, Correa and Jeffers, aren't completely power hitters, but are more extremely accurate, and consistent, contact guys who can continue to get the job done. And while I'm not saying there's no place for a power hitter on this Twins team, especially considering Carlos Santana, they definitely have less of a place on this team than they did when Cruz and Sano were king. 

And considering that the AL Central is being run by a contact team right now that's also seeing power production from its own marquee guy, it makes sense that this kind of tactic would work for the modern Twins. There aren't as many big exclamation points with this Twins team, especially with Pablo Lopez, and Jhoan Duran having down years and Royce Lewis getting injured again, but they're definitely able to win games, and they've had no trouble with that recently, even against the Rangers. 

The real trick will be taking down the Royals, who're in town for a four game stretch this week. The Royals are playing better than the Twins overall right now, but the Twins may be hotter at the current moment. Still, it'll be interesting to see if Joe Ryan and Simeon Woods-Richardson match up favorably against people like Brady Singer and Seth Lugo. A decent showing in this series could mean the Twins are still a favored player in the division race; a poor showing could be a sign that they need a new approach.

Coming Tonight: Last year his offensive performance seemed to indicate a new, powerful youth regime. Now he's...cooled down a bit, I'd say.

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