Jason Kubel as Reliable as They Come

by Eddie Mayrose

I remember the last time I saw Billy Joel in concert.  It was 2005 at The Garden, more than a decade after he’d released his last album, River of Dreams.  Yet, here was the world’s most famous arena, packed to the rafters by middle aged men and women who’d been following the Piano Man for decades.  Why?  Because they all knew what they were going to get.  A terrific performance by an artist that had never let them down.  Like an old friend, Billy Joel delivers, and that reliability is what makes him so attractive.

Diamondbacks’ OF Jason Kubel may not be able to play the piano, but he’s another artist that never lets you down.  Better still, he doesn’t even cost very much as, year after year, Kubel goes in the very late stages of most mixed league drafts.  Yet, for his loyal followers, he’s a huge bargain- delivering robust BA, HR and RBI stats worthy of a selection made much earlier.

Arizona's Jason Kubel, the NL RBI leader, annually provides big numbers at a deep discount.

I started following Kubel years ago  as he rocketed through the Twins’ chain as their top hitting prospect; more so even than Justin Morneau,  Then, after a crippling knee injury nearly cost him his career, his comeback made him one of my favorite players.  He became a .300 hitter and 100 RBI guy on three Fantasy Championship teams, never for more than a 16th round pick.  Between Kubel and Johan Santana, the first Minnesota prospect I picked up out of the minors, I became quite the Twins fan.

Then, when Minnesota let him walk last winter, I was concerned that, without the opportunity to DH, Kubel might lose AB over the course of the season, as that knee always needed an occasional day off from the stress of playing the outfield.  It was reasonable to assume his power numbers would improve now that he would be leaving the over-spacious Target Field, but diminished playing time could negate that bump.  I was a little concerned heading into the draft.

Of course, I took him anyway; I’d have felt like I let him down if I didn’t.  And, once again, I’ve been rewarded for my loyalty, as Kubel is in the midst of a career year; waking up this morning as the NL leader in RBI, after clubbing 3 HR and knocking in 6 last night.  He’s on a pace for career highs in both categories, while closing in on a .300 BA.  There are a number of  first or second rounders whose production is nowhere near that of this reliable late rounder.

“Sing us a song, you’re the piano man…”

Fantasy News and Notes

If you haven’t grabbed Royals C Salvador Perez, especially if you’re in a keeper league, shame on you.  Flying well under the radar on most waiver wires because of a knee injury, Perez has picked up right where he left off last year,  when he popped 7 HR in a very short cup of coffee in Kansas City… Be wary of David Wright the rest of the way.  Yes, he’s in the midst of a career year.  But, as the wheels continue to come off of the Mets’ wagon, Wright will begin to see less and less strikes.   If you’re in contention, dealing Wright could bring back enough to put you over the top… Almost a month in, Cubs’ 1B Anthony Rizzo has been solid; if not spectacular.  Look for that to continue an consider holding on to Rizzo in keeper leagues for 2013.  Remember, the first thing Theo Epstein did upon taking over the Cubs was to re-acquire Rizzo, whom he’d shipped to San Diego in the Adrian Gonzalez trade for the Sawx… Like the swallows returning to Capistrano, Chad Billingsley’s season is headed for the trash heap just as the summer hits the midpoint.  Stay away from him even after he returns from the DL for the Dodgers… On the opposite end of the spectrum, look for Nats’ 1B Adam LaRoche to begin his annual second half asault…  Talk up the fact that Jake Peavy is just 1-5 in his last six starts and see if you can grab him in a trade.  He’s pitched in some tough luck while posting a 3.39 ERA with 56 K’s for the ChiSox over that same stretch.  Things are about to turn for him… I’m a believer in Marlins’ phenom Justin Ruggiano, especially because Florida currently does not have better options in the OF.  I don’t expect him to be sitting at .374 in September, but the HR and SB will both be well in to double figures.

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