After a 12 year career where Kapler has played on 7 teams (not including the 1 year he spent with the Yomiuri Giants) Gabe Kapler is a non-roster invitee with his hometown team. Kapler, a graduate of Woodland Hills Taft High School who later played college ball at Cal-State Fullerton and Moorpark College, was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 57th round of the 1995 draft and ultimately made his debut with the Tigers in 1998.
Throughout his career, Kapler has made his money as a power bat and has never been very capable with the glove. Even then, his career numbers at the plate are fairly poor and don't really demonstrate the ability of a guy who has been able to stick around for over a decade. Kapler has a career OPS+ of 92 and at 35 years old one would think his best days are behind him. Interestingly enough, Kapler put up his career high OPS+ of 119 all of three seasons ago (at age 32) with the Milwaukee Brewers in 245 plate appearances. In 2009, Kapler again put up fairly decent numbers, this time with the Tampa Bay Rays. In his age 33 season, Kapler posted an OPS+ of 102 in 238 plate appearances. Unfortunately for Kapler, the wheels fell off a bit last season as he dropped to an OPS+ of 68 in only 140 plate appearances with Tampa.
After a one year stint in Japan, Kapler returned to the United States in 2005 with the Boston Red Sox where he played through 2006. In December of 2006, Kapler actually announced his retirement from major league baseball and was made the manager of the Red Sox Single A team for the 2007 season. Kapler returned to baseball the following season, making the Milwaukee Brewers after being an NRI in spring training.
Kapler signed a minor league contract (with an invitation to spring training) with the Dodgers on January 18th.
|2011 Projections - Age 35 Season|
Kapler is thrust into a role that is fairly similar to what Jay Gibbons faced in 2010. Kapler has pretty much no chance of making the club out of camp, but if he's willing to stick it out in the minor leagues, he'll have an oppurtunity to prove he warrants a late season call up. He'll have to hit his way to the major league club and probably hope for Marcus Thames to be out of a job (one way or another.) Despite his fairly pedestrian career numbers noted above, Kapler has some value as a right handed platoon hitter as he has a career wOBA of .349 against LHP including a brusing wOBA of .424 and .396 in 2008 and 2009 respectively (2010 pretty much sucked all around.) So if he can rediscover the magic from 2008 and 2009, his right handed bat off the bench would have a place in Los Angeles.
I think Kapler will find his way onto the major league roster at some point and largely unimpress while here. I predict he will hit .220 / .300 / .360 in 45 plate appearances.
What are the TBLA community projections for Gabe Kapler in 2011? Give us your prediction for BA, OBP, and SLG in the comments, and feel free to add any other predictions you have as well.