Sizing up the Diamondbacks outfield 

July, 19, 2012
Heading into this season, most fantasy owners regarded one obvious member of the Arizona Diamondbacks outfield as a top-10 guy or close to it and another as a reasonable 10th-round choice. Then there was Jason Kubel. Most of the discussion around him seemed to be that poor Gerardo Parra deserved a better fate than to be forced to the bench. Well, this is, of course, another reason why they play the games.

[+] Enlarge Jason Kubel
Denis Poroy/Getty ImagesOffseason acquisition Jason Kubel ranks 37th among hitters on the ESPN Player Rater.
Heading into Thursday's game at Cincinnati, Arizona's top option on the Player Rater for the season has been Kubel, the former Minnesota Twins slugger whose winter acquisition came under scrutiny. Kubel, 30, hasn't been a consistent offensive powerhouse, and his defense and speed are lacking. But he's having a big season, with five more home runs (17) than any of his teammates, a team-leading OPS (.918), and he's second in hits and runs scored. By the way, nine of his teammates were selected earlier than Kubel, a 20th-round pick in ESPN average live drafts, including Ryan Roberts and Stephen Drew, who have combined for six home runs and a .238 batting average.

Today it seems obvious, but this couldn't have been as simple as leaving challenging hitter's venue Target Field for the relative luxury of Arizona's Chase Field, could it? Kubel is hitting .331 at home this season with a 1.088 OPS and 12 of his home runs, so clearly that has been a factor. A year ago, Kubel hit .253 with a .690 OPS and a mere four home runs in 43 home games. The low ADP had to also be a reflection that many believed Kubel's skills had diminished, or wouldn't see regular playing time. I was asked about him in March, and I said it's possible he would hit 25 home runs, adding that it's also possible he would have more injury woes (he played in only 99 games in 2011) and lose playing time to defensive stalwart Parra. ESPN Fantasy projected generous numbers (22 homers, 88 RBI, .284 average in 462 at-bats), but Kubel still was barely a top-200 choice.