OK, so the Twins were 60 OPS points lower than the league average, but it turns out that the DH isn't as easy a spot to fill as you might think. I mean, look at the Angels next to the bottom of that list. When they were rumored to be chasing Hunter, everyone wondered why they would do that when they had just signed Gary Matthews Jr. last year. Now we know. They certainly had a spot to fill.
So how about 2008? I'm tempted to turn this in a "Get to Know" column, but I'm also tempted to get back to my life, so let's do an abbreviated version...
I've already stated that I think the 25-year-old Kubel has a decent chance of moving up that list. A 50 point improvement seems reasonable, and puts him in the middle of that next group of players. What does that mean to the Twins? Well, if you're looking for some back of the napkin figuring...
1. +10 points of OPS over 500 at-bats is about 2 runs.
2. +10 runs over a year is equal to about one win.
3. So a 50 OPS improvement for Kubel might be worth about one run over the course of the year.
But the math gets a little more complicated for Kubel, because he didn't have 500 at-bats. He only had 418 at-bats, while the Twins gave 543 at-bats to various DHs last year. If Kubel, who should stay healthy and have more of Gardy's confidence this year, gets that many at-bats and shows that improvement, it's worth another win, and almost two.
That's a pretty rough estimate, and it ignores that those at-bats were taken by somebody else last year, but since that someone was often Rondell White or Jason Tyner, I'll stick with it for now. The bigger concern is that the presence of Craig Monroe on the roster could eat into those bats significantly, especially versus left-handers. Though that might not be such a bad thing eitehr.
Still, there's room for plenty of hope here. Last year might not have bee quite as bad as it seemed, but it was pretty bad. Twins have two reasons - Kubels improvement and Kubel's health - to expect a significant improvement. Even if it's only to the middle of the pack.