Do you guys really like Kepler as a lead off hitter? He's back to his old self at the plate from the last 3 years of full time play - .236/.304/.457(.761) this year, .233/.312/.421(.733) career. His OPS is up a little because of a better slugging %, not because of a better batting average and his OBP is down and actually pretty bad. He's OBP is better vs. RH pitching than LH pitching - .331 v. .216 so maybe that's why Baldelli doesn't play him or at least doesn't lead him off against LH pitching. I know a lot of people here want him to succeed, but let's face facts. He's had 1800 MLB ABs and so far he is a below average hitter for a corner OF. I know his peripherals are better and I've heard the rationalization that he "just suffers from a low BABIP". That may be true, but's it's now been true for 3 plus years of full time play. His track suggests that this may be who he is - an above average to elite defender in the corner who could besolid to better fielding CF, who doesn't really hit much for average or OBP but does have some power. He's really the strong half of a platoon.
My point isn't to sit or replace Kepler, but I think batting him lead off isn't a good idea. He isn't there because he's good at it - by statistical definition he's a mediocre lead off hitter against RH pitching and a truly lousy lead off hitter against LH pitching. He also seems to press a little there and under pressure over all. Witness last night's awful AB with a man on second a no outs in the 8th down a run where he lunged at the first pitch trying to hit a home run when a ground ball to the right side was his job. Only one AB, but right now he has a .485 OPS with runners in scoring position this year (admittedly a SSS). The Twins are committed to him now, so let's develop him by putting him where he can hit with a little less pressure. We should hit Kepler 7th or 8th where he belongs.
I come not to bury Kepler, but to argue that he hasn't "broken out" yet and leading him off is not helping him do that. I would lead off Garver when he plays and Polanco when Garver sits, move Gonzalez to the 2 hole when Garver isn't playing, and put Kepler at 6 ahead of Schoop at 7. Peripherals are nice but don't show a breakout. At most, they suggest that a breakout may be coming. A breakout happens when one's BA, SLG % and OPS show the breakout. Those are the stats that matter on the field. Kepler's stats don't show a breakout. There's a better chance of Kepler breaking out lower in the order IMHO.
Performance matters. It matters even when we want and hope a player does well. Now, I'll crawl into my bunker, fortify the door, waiting for the responses.