PC: Brad Rempel
This week German-born Max Kepler hit yet another career milestone, the third in just two months for the Minnesota Twins rookie. Kepler, along with veteran teammate Joe Mauer, was named the AL Co-Player of the Week.
Reflecting on the week, where he went 9-27 batting .370 with nine runs scored, four homers, 11 RBIs and two stolen bases, over 7 games, Kepler told MLB TV,
“It’s been a whirlwind. Things kind of went by really fast. I just try to go out there every day with the same mindset, just keep things very simple. Slow the game down and not do too much. Get on base for guys behind me. Luckily it turned out Joe was on base most of the time and the ball went out of the park a couple of times; which is always awesome. It was an amazing week for the both of us and for the whole team.”
Twins manager Paul Molitor said, "After hearing about it, you reflect on what those guys did last week, particularly in Cleveland. Joe had an incredible series. Max had the three-homer night and was piling up the RBIs. It's justice that they would share it. Congratulations to those guys. They deserve it."
Kepler’s first milestone came on June 12th when the rookie hit his first major league home run. The shot, besides being personally historic, also happened to be a three-run, walk-off homer at the top of the 10th inning against the Sox in Boston.
"I'm not a home run hitter, so it's rare," Kepler said. "I'm just trying to hit singles. I'm just trying to put the ball in play and hit it hard. I'm thankful for the backspin I was blessed with."
He may not think himself a homerun hitter but his rookie stats are begging to differ with him. Kepler has 15 homeruns on the season and is currently tied for second in the AL. He’s also sitting in the same spot for stolen bases with 22 on the season.
In last Monday’s 3-homerun-game against Cleveland he became one of only five men in the organization’s history to hit three in a game. Those three also put him in the record books as the only European-born player in MLB history to do it. Thus, recording his second milestone.
This week’s Player of the Week honor makes Kepler the first product of the MLB European Elite Camps to win the honor. When asked about his decision to go with baseball as a kid in Germany Kepler said, ”I tried a few sports, baseball, tennis, soccer. Then, when I was 16, I decided to go through with baseball. Before that it was just all hobbies, just for fun on the weekends, just being a kid and living life. But I’m glad I made that decision to go with baseball really. It has paid off so far.” To which his co-awardee Joe Mauer replied, “I am too!”
On Max Joe said, “You give him a piece of advice here or there and he puts into play out there. He’s a quick study and it’s going to be fun to watch him throughout his whole career.”
In recognition of their shared Award, both Kepler and Mauer will receive a watch courtesy of Game Time.
23-year-old Kepler played baseball for Buchbinder Legionäre Regensburg, and represented the German National Team in the 2012 World Baseball Classic Qualifier, before starting his career with the Twins.