It's safe to say that Max Kepler isn't winning over any new fans in Twins Territory.
This was supposed to be a season where the new shift ban helped Kepler tap back into the player he was four years ago. His breakout season created a ton of promise that he has yet to deliver on, and his performance this season isn't helping at all.
So far this season Kepler is slashing a miserable .192/.267/.369, which is exactly the opposite of what everyone was hoping. He spent some time on the IL and has been good for a thrilling home run here and there, but overall this is a nightmare scenario for anyone who bought stock in this being a bounce-back season for Kepler.
This week's series in Tampa Bay served as yet another low.
In the ninth inning of Wednesday's game, Kepler didn't execute a double steal when Michael A. Taylor stole third with Kepler on first. The lack of effort was punctuated when Royce Lewis hit an RBI single that scored Taylor and likely would have batted in Kepler had he been on second.
Minnesota ended up losing by a single run, which only further emphasized Kepler mistake.
Max Kepler responds to Rocco Baldelli calling him out
After Wednesday's loss to Tampa Bay, Rocco Baldelli called out Max Kepler for lack of effort.
The Twins once again lost to the Rays on Thursday afternoon, which marked the team's fifth straight loss. While addressing the media, Kepler responded to getting called out by Baldelli and owned his mistake.
"I learned from the mistake I made. I should have had second with ease," Kepler said.
He also admitted that had he stolen second like he was supposed to, he probably would have scored the tying run on Lewis' single.
"I should have, yeah, if I was on second. Yeah. Probably," Kepler said.
For what it's worth, Rocco put Kepler in the lineup on Thursday after privately addressing the incident in the clubhouse.
Give Kepler credit for taking accountability, but that only goes so far. His poor performance so far this season has fans calling for him to be DFA'd, which won't happen anytime soon but is notable in that he appears to have lost the room.
There's still a lot of season left, but it already feels like Kepler is running out of time to have the bounce back year everyone was hoping he'd have.