Kubel enjoying new home
By Thomas J. Harrigan, Fantasy Sports Writer
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It's unclear if Jason Kubel does his banking at Chase, but he sure is cashing in now that he plays his home games at the ballpark sponsored by the financial firm.
Kubel blasted three homers and drove in six Saturday night to raise his season line to .294/20/70. The blasts were his seventh, eighth and ninth of July in just 14 games. The outfielder is on pace to easily eclipse his career highs of 28 home runs and 103 RBIs, both set in 2009, and there really is no mystery behind the surge.
While Target Field is notorious for swallowing up fly balls from lefty hitters - Twins stars Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau have only managed to hit 10 home runs total in 272 combined games at Minnesota's home, which opened in 2010 - Chase Field has given Kubel teeth.
Kubel has belted 15 homers while hitting .331 at his new home ballpark in Phoenix after the Diamondbacks signed him away from the Twins in the offseason. This comes after Kubel hit just 12 home runs total in 111 games at Target Field in the previous two seasons combined.
The Diamondbacks' park is ranked second in MLB Park Factors for runs with 1.436 and third in homers with 1.593 (1.000 is neutral, while any rate higher than that indicates hitter friendly conditions).
The only category I'm not buying is Kubel's batting average. The outfielder is striking out far too often to hit .290-.300 (career high 25.4 percent strikeout percentage and career low 58 percent ball-in-play percentage), and he's had tremendous luck with a .348 BABIP.
Fortunately, Kubel's power numbers shouldn't see a decline even with a batting average regression because he's exercising extreme patience at the plate. The outfielder is fourth in baseball in pitches per plate appearance with 4.31, also a career high. He's walking a career-high 10.5 percent of the time, and more importantly, he's waiting for his pitch, and clobbering it when it comes.
Kubel is hitting more fly balls than ever before, but he's also managed to pick up an extra-base hit 12 percent of the time, a statistic partially aided by his friendly home ballpark and partially due to his 21 percent line drive percentage, up three percent from last season and six percent from 2010.
The outfielder has been a solid bat for three out of four months this season, hitting .333 with three homers and a .928 OPS in April, .289 with seven home runs, 27 RBIs and a .911 OPS in June before surging this month, so it's not like he's a flash in the pan.
Kubel is ranked 38th overall in Yahoo! leagues on the strength of Saturday's performance, but he's still available in 25 percent of leagues. This man should be universally owned, as he's going to be among the league leaders in homers and RBIs while posting an above average OPS in the remaining months this season.
07/22 19:17:03 ET