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Is Jason Kipnis Just a One Hit Wonder?

Is Jason Kipnis Just a One Hit Wonder?

| On 18, Oct 2014

Today continues DTTWLN’s three week examination of the Indians’ 2014 season and where it fell short of the playoff expectations established last winter. The staff will examine where the season went wrong and the challenges the front office faces to make the Indians contenders in 2015.

Los Del Rio is famous for doing the Macarena and little else. Soft Cell got famous for Tainted Love while Dexys Midnight Runners used Come on Eileen. Right Said Fred told the world that I’m too Sexy and The Baha Men asked Who Let the Dogs Out?

Just like all of these other one-hit wonders, Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis just might still be cashing in on his biggest hit—June of 2013.

It was certainly a good month for Kipnis. In 27 games Kipnis batted .419 with 39 hits, 12 doubles, four homeruns and 25 RBI. He walked 20 times, stole nine bases and had an OPS of 1.216. It raised his batting average from a pedestrian .238 to a very respectable .299. June of 2013 also vaulted Kipnis to his first All-Star Game as he hit safely in 24 of his 27 contests that month.

After the All-Star break, Kipnis’ production tailed off some as the Indians marched toward the postseason. He batted .261 for the remainder of the year, coming back to Earth toward where his career batting average sits at .262.

The 2014 season, however, saw Kipnis crash down to new lows that Cleveland has never seen from him. His triple slash (BA/OBP/SLG) plummeted to career lows at .240/.310/.330. He knocked only six homeruns, drove home just 41 and struck out twice as much as he walked. Kipnis stole just 22 bases as well, marking the first full season that he failed to eclipse 30.

It may be easy to simply look at Kipnis’ 2014 as an aberration, blame it on injuries and call it simply just a bump in the road of a still-promising career; but it’s also easy to look at the season as bad, but not far off from what he has done over the majority of his career.

In June of 2013, Kipnis posted an amazing triple slash line of .419/.517/.699. This month pushed his career line to.262/.338/.398—pretty mediocre numbers to be sure. By comparison, former Indian Ronnie Belliard put up a triple slash line in his career of .273/.338/.419—equaling or bettering Kipnis in each category. Another former second sacker, Tad Iguchi—who was also seen as ‘mediocre at best’—put up an even more similar line of .268/.338/.401; and even these statistics are still slightly better than those for Kipnis.

If Kipnis’ super month is taken out of his career statistics, things get extremely ugly as he posts a triple slash of .253/.327/.381. To compare with some more “historical” figures, this line compares well with that of former Cincinnati part-time starter Eddie Milner (.253/.333/.376), slightly worse than 1990’s utility man Rich Becker (.256/.358/.372), and just ahead of former Royal and Tiger Pat Sheridan (.253/.319/.371). Never heard of these guys? To show what kind of company Kipnis is keeping, those three players started 100 games in a year just seven combined times in their 26 combined seasons.

The point is that for 18 out of approximately 19 months that Kipnis has been a regular in the Indians lineup, he has been extremely mediocre by the numbers. It doesn’t mean that he has no upside—he just turned 27—or that he shouldn’t be starting, but the days of Kipnis hitting in the top three spots in the Tribe lineup need to be over until he proves that he can hit consistently.

After all, we know that sometimes one hit just isn’t enough.

Photo: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images


  1. Thomas

    If and when Lindor becomes available, shift Ramirez to 2B and let he and Kipper compete for the job. May the best guy win.

  2. Fred Fox

    Ciu the guy some slack. He was injured!!!! So when LeBron has an injusy will you trash him too?

    • Kevin

      You’re missing the entire point of the article. Taking away one month in 2013, Kip has been below average, this year’s injury doesn’t change the fact that he has no consistent body of work which dates back to 2012 his first full year.

  3. Dianna Baron

    I think we should given Kipnis another chance after all we are paying swisher 15 mil. what has he done

  4. Tom Pinch

    Obviously the author knows the answer to the question he posits: Yes, of course! Kipnis is well on his way to the land of forgettable, or marginally memorable players who have some splash of brilliance combined with luck and circumstance.

    In baseball parlance, Kipnis is being ‘pitched to.’ Opposing teams are extraordinarily well-informed about his weak spots, tendencies, and his capacity to allow failure at the plate to morph into……… more failure at the plate.

    At the all star break this year he could’ve been traded for the redoubtable Gordon Beckham of the White Sox, and neither team would have felt any discernable difference, statistically or otherwise. The White Sox would actually be a good fit for Kipnis, given his background in Chicago and tendency to rattle the ball around The Cell pretty well, playing in relative obscurity in front of supportive home-town fans.

    When he made the final out in the playoff game v Tampa in 2013 (swinging at a wicked slider in the dirt) no one would’ve predicted the sort of struggle that followed this season.

  5. stanusvet

    Kipnis is a bust and he complains the fans won’t come out to watch him, really?

  6. O-Towner

    I was looking at his stats and saw that he posted exactly zero RBI’s in September, and has gone nearly 200 at bats without a single one. This is not just bad this may be bordering on an all time futility record. It’s almost GusGil-ian.

  7. Hometown9

    I believe that Kipnis had some sort of undisclosed injury this past season. For whatever reason he/they (the club) chose not to disclose it was probably because it fell into the category of it not being enough to keep him off the field everyday so he should play through it.

    The television broadcast late in the season when Matt Underwood related a story where Kipnis walked by Terry Francona on his way to the plate and uttered, “Now I know that I don’t play this game for the money.” when naturally he was slumping, is the sort of one liner that distinguishes him as being a *gamer* To hear it reported the way Underwood told it, Francona was moved by hearing it. Which sounds as though it bought Kip the sort of goodwill or belief that has me thinking the manager will stick with him until there’s more evidence either way. Resurgence and comeback or ineffectiveness and mediocrity.

    The jury’s still out on whether or not he’ll be with the ballclub for long.

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