Scouting report debunked: Twins’ Kepler raking against LHP
Max Kepler wasn’t supposed to be able to hit left-handed pitchers.
That was the scouting report on the Minnesota Twins’ 25-year-old outfielder heading into 2018, anyway.
Kepler was coming off a solid 2017 campaign in which he hammered a career-best 19 homers and a .243/.312/.425 slash line, but the numbers were deflated by a dismal .152 average against southpaws.
It didn’t take long to turn around that storyline this spring.
In 31 plate appearances vs. lefties this season, Kepler has compiled 10 hits — four doubles and two homers — as well as three walks and five RBI. That’s good for a .357 batting average, debunking his greatest weakness as a big-league hitter.
It’s a trend that’s followed him around his entire professional career. Kepler struggled against lefties in Single-A ball (.117 average) in 2013 before lifting it to .318 in Double-A two years later.
Kepler has contributed to the Twins’ .266 average as a team against lefties, which is much improved from their .239 average against right-handers. That’s a +.027 difference between the two splits, the biggest gap in MLB.
— Angel Stadium is yielding the most combined home runs per game this season (3.12). The Twins and Angels combined to hit five Thursday night.
— Lance Lynn is averaging 10 strikeouts per nine innings, his highest mark since he had a 10.4 K/9 as a rookie in 2011.
— Joe Mauer has swung at the first pitch just three times this season — in other words, 2.2 percent of his plate appearances.
–Twenty-seven of Minnesota’s 39 homers this season have come with the bases empty.
Statistics courtesy STATS, baseball-reference.com