Very Well Then

Contradicting myself, always contradicting myself

Twins DHs: Disproportionate Hitters

Posted by verywellthen on February 9, 2011

Pretend that you are Gardy and you are filling in the DH slot in your lineup card sometime in the upcoming season.    You’ve got some pretty good options:

  • Jim Thome – Second place active career home run hitter, still appears to have something left.
  • Jason Kubel – The numbers were down last year, but over 20 HRs each of the last three years in a less-than-full-time role.
  • Joe Mauer – He’ll need breaks from catching twice a week, but you need to keep his bat in the lineup most days.
  • Justin Morneau – There’s a thought that post-concussion Justin should rest more this season and one way to do it would be to give him occasional hitting-only days.

That’s four pretty damn fine options for DH’ing.   But there’s just one thing – every one of them is left handed.

Fortunately for the Twins, only about 25% of innings thrown in MLB are tossed by southpaws (unfortunately, it seems to be 90% for Yankee playoff pitchers).

Below is a table with the versus-Lefty and versus-Righty splits (2010, last 3 years, and career) for the four options.  I also include the number of plate appearances each got at DH last year.

 

  2010 2010 2010 3 year 3 year Career Career
  PAs at DH OPS vs. RHP OPS vs. LHP OPS vs. RHP OPS vs. LHP OPS vs. RHP OPS vs. LHP
Thome 311 1154 769 939 802 1047 763
Kubel 182 792 655 881 663 840 666
Mauer 97 978 711 965 849 952 768
Morneau 7 1113 966 958 839 917 778

 

An all-left-handed DH assault could work.  In fact it already did – last year.  The Twins only gave 66 Pas to DHs other than the above. And the Twins had an overall OPS+ at DH of 127.    It worked quite well.

Fine-tuning that a bit, I’d try to work in as many Mauer and Morneau DH days as I could on days when the opponents start a lefty – since they both have handled lefties tolerably in recent years (well, 2010 Mauer, not so much) and will have their positions taken over by right-handed hitters.

 

But then I started kicking around this other idea.    I feel like I need to take a shower just for thinking it, but should the Twins consider trading Jason Kubel for a right-handed bat?

I heart Jason Kubel.  He’s perhaps my favorite Twin – just as Gardy likes slappy, middle-infielders because they remind them of himself, I like soft-spoken guys born in the great state of Dakota.

But being on the same team as Jim Thome doesn’t give Kubel much chance to shine.

This is the last year of Kubel’s contract.   I don’t hold out much hope of the Twins trying to resign him after this year, though with potential draft picks looming, the Twins will be tempted to offer him arbitration. (Elias has deemed him a Type A Free Agent at the end of 2010  — which includes Jason’s sweet 2009 numbers, so his status might yet drop below A level.)  He’s owed $5.25M this year.   The Twins have indicated they want to increase team speed – so his outfield play doesn’t play into that plan at all.

So, should the Twins identify a few candidates and make a few calls?   The target might look like this:  a right handed DH/Corner Outfielder on a team looking for left-handed hitting.

I guess it would take a lot to impress me.

First of all, a righty in the DH platoon only gets so many at bats.  A new righty wouldn’t complement the righty corner outfielders of Young and Cuddyer.   There are plenty of injury scenarios (Thome, Morneau, Cuddyer, Young) where Jason’s value and opportunity significantly increase.   Kubel could earn the Twins some draft picks if next year’s arbitration dance follows an offer/decline choreography.   And if he does stick around, he might not have to share the lefty-DH spot with Thome in 2012.

Maybe, most of all, I’m blinded by my Kubel affection, and I’d like to have at least one more year of him around to see if he can find his 2009 self again.

 

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