Minnesota Twins: Kepler, A Rookie of the Year Front Runner?

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Jul 20, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Minnesota Twins right fielder Max Kepler (26) hits a home run in the ninth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 20, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Minnesota Twins right fielder Max Kepler (26) hits a home run in the ninth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Following his three-home run performance on Monday along with – at the time of writing this – one more on Tuesday, the planets have aligned and the Minnesota Twins’ Max Kepler is a surefire Hall of Famer, right?

Ok, ok, maybe I’m a bit too excited and I’ll have to come back down from Cloud Nine (or Cloud 26 in this case) but clearly Kepler is proving to be a man among boys during his rookie campaign with the Minnesota Twins.

It’s not Byron Buxton, it’s not Jose Berrios, it’s not Eddie Rosario and it’s not Miguel Sano who are destroying the competition and rising up as candidates for any type of hardware.

It’s a guy who came about a natural athletic ability by being the son of two German ballet dancers and who just as easily could have been a soccer player in Germany.

So, now that we are back to the real world, it’s time to ask the question.

Is Kepler a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate?

Well to compare, let’s look at some of the past American League winners.

Carlos Correa

2015: .279, 22 HR, 68 RBI’s, 99 GP

Jose Abreu

2014: .317, 36 HR, 107 RBI’s, 145 GP

Wil Myers

2013: .293, 13 HR, 53 RBI’s, 88 GP

Mike Trout

2012: .326, 30 HR, 83 RBI’s, 139 GP

And after that we had a couple of years of pitchers winning.

The reason I have added the games played stats is because as it stands, Kepler is playing in his 63rd game with the Minnesota Twins having 56 games left to be played.

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Any unexpected injuries aside, this means Kepler could end up playing in at least 100 ball games this season, which would put him higher than both Correa and Myers.

That would give Kepler a legitimate shot at 25-30 home run territory.

Of course that would be pending he continues the torrid pace he’s been hitting at. But if he ends up with an average of around .260-.270 with 25-30 home runs and 60-70 RBI’s.

Those numbers would put him around the same as all four previous Rookie of the Year winners, batting average aside.

The Minnesota Twins may not be in postseason contention but the lineup has seen a significant boost ever since Kepler was added to the everyday order, giving the team another left-handed hitter aside from just Joe Mauer.

Known primarily as a gap and doubles hitter, the power is just icing on the cake.

His impact has been felt from his first home run – a walk-off three-run blast against the Boston Red Soxto his electric two homer, seven RBI performance against the Texas Rangers to Monday’s most recent display.

Kepler has arrived and has officially cemented his place as a long-term everyday player the Minnesota Twins can rely on.

His glove has been steady, and his bat and confidence has been even better. With Buxton still struggling to adjust entirely to the big leagues, it’s refreshing to see Kepler step in and give the team a big-time bat.

Known primarily as a gap and doubles hitter, the power is just icing on the cake.

What’s even more impressive is he is also hitting homers at Target Field, a park even former Minnesota Twins standout Justin Morneau infamously had bad words for as a lefty hitter.

What’s next for Kepler? The sky’s the limit as he has emerged as a bit of a sleeper prospect with a system full of Buxton’s and Berrios’.

Should he win the Rookie of the Year award this season?

There’s still plenty of season left and we can’t expect him to continue on this pace.

Next: Deals Are Done, What's Next?

But as it stands, show me someone better.

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