Thanks to a change of venue and a slowly increasing tendency toward fly balls, Jason Kubel has become one of the better home run options in fantasy.
Every year from 2006 through 2012, Kubel has hit more and more fly balls. Last year his 43.8 FB% wasn’t overly extreme, but it’s much higher than the low-to-mid 30s marks he was posting earlier in his career. Toss in a move from Target Field (103 park factor for HR to RHB) to Chase Field (114), and it shouldn’t be surprising that Kubel posted his first career 30-homer season in 2012.
With the departure of Justin Upton, Kubel becomes an even more critical park of Arizona’s offensive attack. According to MLBDepthCharts.com, he’s slated to bat cleanup for the Diamondbacks, a lineup slot that should help him reproduce his numbers from last season.
At a Glance
Strengths: HR, RBI, SLG
Neutral: R, BA, OBP, OPS
Best-case scenario: Mark Trumbo (LAA)
Likely scenario: Michael Morse (SEA), Ike Davis (NYM), Nelson Cruz (TEX)
Worst-case scenario: Dayan Viciedo (CHW)
Jason Kubel 2013 Fantasy Projection
Kubel has never scored more than 75 runs in a single season, so he’s not going to contribute much in that category. He’s also totaled three stolen bases in the last five years, so one steal is about the best you can hope for. I believe he’s more of a .270 hitter than the .252 he displayed last year, so he’ll be average in that category. All of those neutrals and weaknesses add up and really limit his overall value, but the good news is that Kubel can contribute in the rarest way of all: with his power.
I expect overall improvement this year from Kubel, mostly in the form of a better batting average, and I think Kubel’s ever-increasing tendency towards fly balls puts a modest floor on the kind of home run production we can expect. Honestly, I’d be surprised if he doesn’t hit at least 22-24 homers in a full season of play, and batting fourth for Arizona will yield around 90 RBI.