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Is Max Kepler a legitimate rookie of the year candidate?

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Max Kepler had a big night Monday in Cleveland. He's had even a bigger last few weeks.

But has the young, lanky outfielder gone from a mild curiosity to a full-blown rookie of the year candidate?

It's definitely time to ask the question.

With Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and Jose Berrios grabbing most of the attention in the Twins' rookie class this year, fans and even experts haven't paid a lot of attention to the German outfielder – that is until now.

https://twitter.com/MLBStatoftheDay/status/760524318975537152

Kepler's three home runs Monday against the Indians is something that only four other Twins players have done in the history of the team. Justin Morneau, Harmon Killabrew, Bob Allison and Tony Oliva were the others – but none of them were rookies.

In fact, rookies rarely have pulled something like that off in the history of the league.

https://twitter.com/baseball_ref/status/760582256549367808

But rookie-of-the-year awards weren't won in a single game. So how do Kepler's numbers from this season look?

His 14 home runs currently leads all American League rookies, and his 11 bombs in the last 25 games is more than anyone else in Major League Baseball over that same stretch.

In addition to the home runs, he's hitting .256 with 13 doubles and he's already amassed 44 RBIs.

WCCO notes that Kepler's numbers put him right in the mix with a couple of the other top rookies, Cleveland's Tyler Naquin and Texas' Nomar Mazara.

And then there's the arm.

Just last week alone, Kepler threw out two runners trying to take an extra base, with strong, accurate throws that got the notice of Twins fans and opposing teams.

While it's too early to tell if Kepler will win the award, you better believe he's a candidate for it as of right now.

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