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Who's to blame for Max Kepler turning into Babe Ruth?

Hint: It's not Roberto Perez.

Jason Miller/Getty Images

What the hell, Max Kepler?

The Minnesota Twins have seemingly had the Cleveland Indians' number this season, but no player has dominated them as much as rookie outfielder Max Kepler has in these past two games. In the Game 1 blowout, he belted three home runs off of Danny Salazar and Cody Anderson, and in Game 2 he blasted one off of Carlos Carrasco. Suddenly this seemingly innocent young man and star of Max Keeble's Big Move is an Indians killer and I hate everything about him. In two games he hit one fewer home run than he did in all of 2014. What gives?

Sure, Kepler probably will not hit like this for however many years he remains on the Twins, but just in case the Indians really need to find out why he seems to so easily kill Tribe pitching. And quickly.

Most Indians fans have had a quick trigger finger pointed at Roberto Perez, who stepped in to replace the injured Yan Gomes in mid-July, which seems to coincide with the Indians' partial rotation collapse. I say "seems to" because Danny Salazar looked bad before Gomes was injured, Corey Kluber has been fine, and Trevor Bauer uses Chris Gimenez as his personal catcher, anyway. The only real anomaly is Carrasco, but he has been flying by the seat of his pants all season long anyway, with an FIP over 4.00 despite the low ERA. You could say he was due for some bad luck at some point.

Pointing the finger at Roberto for the bad month of pitching is inaccurate anyway, and blaming him for Max Kepler's sudden explosion is even worse.

The scouting report on Kepler is not exactly difficult. He already has 235 plate appearances this season, and for the most part, he looks like a dead-pull hitter. His spray chart shows a hitter lifting everything dead center, over the right field wall or straight to a waiting outfielder.

His heat map at the plate paints the same picture, with a high slugging percentage per pitch on balls up and inside that are easily pulled.

So, naturally, to attack a hitter like this you keep the ball outside, yes? Maybe someone, let's say a catcher, would be calling for balls outside of the zone. In order to find out, I re-watched all four home runs so you don't have to, and there is a very distinct pattern: Roberto Perez desperately wants the balls low and outside, but every single one drifts back inside.

Don't believe me? You should, this is the internet and everything I write is fact. But if you are still not swayed, let's look at the footage, distilled down to some key frames to minimize vomiting at the site of another Max Kepler home run.

First up, Kepler's home run against Salazar on Monday. Here's where Roberto wanted it:

(I like to imagine Roberto enjoys bad rhymes while calling for locations)

And where he got it...

Right over the heart of the plate. Alright, maybe this is a one-time thing. After all, this is just Max f'ing Kepler, who cares.

Let's look at what happened two innings later. Here's where Roberto wanted it:

And where he got it...


Here's where Roberto wanted it:

And where he got it...

I literally couldn't get any frames closer because Kepler swung the bat so fast that the ball is gone in the next frame.

And just when we thought our nightmare was over, Tuesday rolled around. One last time. Where Roberto wanted it:

And where he got it...

The issue is obvious: Stop throwing the ball where Max Kepler can hit it. Terry Francona eventually just gave up and intentionally walked him in a crucial moment last night, which might end up being the right choice if Trevor Bauer and Mike Clevinger cannot hit their locations over the next two games.