Hot Hitting Kipnis Leads Tribe into Mid-Season

Last night the Cleveland Indians defeated the Baltimore Orioles to push their win total on the season up to 40. They maintain their strong hold of second place in the AL Central Division. The last 26 days for the Tribe has been up and down but they are still very much in the race as mid-season looms. The Indians entered the Month of June 29-25 and a half game out of first place in the American League Central. On June 27 the Indians stand at 40-37 and two and a half games behind the Tigers for the Central lead. Over the month of June, the Indians have played to a record of 11-12. Not were the Tribe or fans would have hoped, but still very much alive in the division and playoff race. In review of the month, and a look ahead at what may come, let’s take a look at some players that have done well this past June, and over their careers in July.

Jason Kipnis has led the pack for the Tribe in June. He started off the season on an abysmal run. He was hitting a mere .238/.305/.399 heading into June. Kipnis really turned a corner immediately, getting two hits including a double against the Tampa Bay Rays on June first. He never looked back from there as he hit in 17 of his last 18 games and has been on base in every game of the month. Through June 26, Kipnis is hitting .408/.500/.632 in the month to bring his season slash up to .288/.368/.502. To make a comparison, New York Yankee All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano, a players most would say is the best hitting second baseman in the league, has a season slash of .277/.356/.495, slightly worse than Kipnis. In terms of Wins Above Replacement (WAR) on Matt Carpenter of the Cardinals is having a better season than Kipnis. Looking ahead, Kipnis has a career slash of .226/.341/.321 in July. This may seem to bode poorly for the Indians second baseman, but this season may be a different story. In the past he has waned due mostly to fatigue but with his experience he should be able to at least maintain a quality standard through July and continue his good season.

Michael Bourn has also had a very good June. He began the season on a hot streak, hitting .333 in April. Unfortunatley, just ten games into the season he injured his hand and went on the 15 day disabled list. He played solid after his return in May, hitting .288. June was more reminiscent of his hot start. In 21 starts Bourn is hitting .295/.340/.352 for the month. Looking forward to July, there is a reason to be optimistic. It has traditionally been one of his best months over his career. He has a slash line of .272/.331/.370 in July, and has hit more triples in July than any other month.

Although Zach McAllister is currently sitting on the Indians disabled list, he has been the Tribes most effective starting pitcher in the month of July. He is still a few weeks away from returning from returning from his finger injury, but he may get a start in at the end of July. Over his short career, he holds a record of 2-1 in six career July starts. To go along with that record, he has a 2.78 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 35.2 innings pitched.

Joe Smith has pitched well in June thus far. He has one win and a 2.98 ERA over ten appearances and struck out 9 batters in 9.1 innings. For his career in July Smith has put up similar numbers. His record is a somewhat pedestrian 4-3 but he boasts a 2.95 ERA. He has thrown 61 innings over 72 appearances, the most games played in any month for Smith.

It seems as though the Indians have recently fallen apart in July. It seems this way mostly because it is true. In the last three seasons, Tribe fans have witnessed some rough stretches one the calendar turns over and the second half begins. This season though seems different. The moral of the team is different, the drive to win is different, and the confidence, poise, and experience of their new Manager are different. The Indians have an excellent 5-0 record in extra-inning games, and very good 15-7 in one runs games; both of those are great signs. Those are the things that playoff teams do; those are the things that championship teams do. They win the close games; they fight and battle to the end. However the first half of the season ends for the Indians, wherever the Tribe sits at the end of June, I expect them to maintain their heading and stay in the race all the way to the end.

Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images

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