April Twin of the Month: Jason Kubel
The Twins engender May sitting at fourth place in the Central, a mere game out of first, and sporting an 11-11 record. Not too bad, really - especially considering that the boys get their best player back tonight for his first action of the season. Scheduling has proven more an encumbrance than perhaps first believed as well; true, the boys have played the second-most home games (14) in the A.L., but to look at those contests closer, is to see an April that maybe wasn't all that shottty. Consider: the Twins have played Seattle (first in the West), the White Sox (hated/heated rival), LA (A.L. contender), Tampa (defending A.L. champ) and Boston & Toronto (locked in virtual tie for 1st place in the East).
Further noting that the Twins have the 10th ranked ERA in the A.L. (5.26) and the third fewest runs scored (93), one may be left to query: how in the hell are we even .500? Among the answers is DH Jason Kubel, my April Twin of the Month.
Among DH's, Kubel ranks in the top-3 in runs, hits, doubles, triples, home runs, RBI, batting, and slugging percentage; amidst his Twins peers he ranks in the top-3 in all but average. Speaking of average, Kubel's .303 is nearly 50 points higher than his career clip for March/April. In addition, of his mere eight March/April career longballs, four of them have come in the incipient month of '09, and his fine .566 slugging clip is more than 140 points higher than his lifetime number for March/April.
Kubel found a serious grove last August, and the "national media" took notice. This season, Kubel gathered deserved pub for his scorching April 17th and 18th, a two-game stretch against the Angels in which he collected eight hits. On the 17th, Kubel capped off the cycle with his eighth inning grand slam that crowned an emotional, seven run inning for the boys in the eventual 11-9 win. Said cycle was the first hit in the Dome since 1986; Kubel's slam was also the first hit to complete the cycle in MLB since 2001.
While Joe Mauer's return this eve portends dividends for the lineup as a whole - keep an especially close eye of Kubel; May is his worst career batting month with a sad .228 average. But before looking too far ahead, let us enjoy the moment for today, and salute Jason Kubel as the April Twin of the Month. In recognition, he will receive his complementary subscription to City Pages within 3-6 weeks, and I'll also make it a point to marker his name onto one of those pin-up cardboard sneakers for sick kids next time I hit the grocery store.