The Minnesota Twins have come roaring back into the American League Central race. After being down 16.5 games to the Cleveland Indians on June 2nd, the Twins have ripped off a ridiculous 24 wins in 35 games.
In doing so, the Twins have climbed out of the American League gutter and now find themselves just 6.5 games behind the Detroit Tigers and Indians for the division lead.
What transpired for the Twins to go off on a winning spree?
Minnesota's pitching stepped up tremendously, but more importantly it was the play of outfielders Michael Cuddyer and Ben Revere.
Cuddyer has been the backbone of the Twins to this point of the season and earned his first All-Star appearance for his play. To this point of the season, he's batting .296 with 13 home runs and 43 runs batted in. It's not spectacular by any means, but it's certainly a good bat in the lineup. Not to mention his versatility in the field as he has played right field, first base, second base and third base.
Ben Revere earned his call-up on May 4th and hasn't looked back since. He's been the "table-setter" for the Twins' lineup alongside middle infielder Alexi Casilla at the top of the order. He's sporting a solid .269 batting average, but his 25 runs scored and defense in center field have been his most valuable traits thus far.
Delmon Young made his return to Target Field last night against the Kansas City Royals and didn't disappoint at the plate. Young went 3-for-4 with two doubles, one RBI and a run scored. His two-out double in the bottom of the fifth inning scored third baseman Danny Valencia to make the score 3-2, Royals leading. Young then scored on Trevor Plouffe's two-run home run that gave the Twins a 4-2 lead.
Young's ability at the plate isn't being questioned, but his ability in the field surely is. He's slow in left field and takes some absurd routes to fly balls. If it wasn't for his right throwing arm, he would already be listed as the Twins' designated hitter.
As outfielders Denard Span and Jason Kubel make their separate ways back to the game of baseball in the next two weeks, roster moves will be made as a result.
Kubel was having a silently good year before a foot injury. He was putting up his highest batting average as a Twin at .310 and was a positive bat in the middle of Minnesota's lineup.
Span was arguably the Twins' best player before being hindered by a concussion. His glove in center field was as good as anyone's. As the leadoff hitter, Span's .294 batting average was the second-best on the team.
When Kubel and Span do come off the 15-day disabled list and establish that they are healthy, the Twins' front office should make the move to trade away the left-handed power threat Kubel.
In doing this, Minnesota's outfield turns into a "no hit zone" with the immense speed of Revere and Span playing defense together.
It also moves the defensively impaired Young to the DH role where he can become more effective. This decreases the chance of injury to him while also removing him from left field. This is best for all parties involved.
Kubel's contract expires after this season, and moving him likely won't be a problem as there are plenty of teams in contention that will be looking for a bat to go in the middle of their order.
Trading Kubel frees up the DH spot in the order for Young to take over, while leaving the veteran slugger Jim Thome as the pinch-hit threat off the bench.