Jason Kipnis of the Cleveland Indians had a breakout season last year. So where should you place him in your rankings for your upcoming fantasy baseball draft?
Now that is a very good question given the variance in opinions about him. Baseball America has him ranked as the 10 best 2B, while Yahoo! has him as the fourth. That is quite a difference. How can that be? Well maybe it is because Kipnis is 25, has only one full major league history behind him, but is thought to have great up side potential.
Part of Kipnis’ value is in his base-stealing potential since he had 31 last year. But the puzzling thing about this is that it appears to have come out of nowhere. In 515 minor league ABs in 2010, he had nine steals. In 479 ABs in 2011 between Columbus and Cleveland he had 17 steals. So how did he suddenly learn how to steal? And why did he have only half as many steals after the All-Star break compared to before? These are all good questions.
His other stats from last year were 86 runs, 76 RBI and 14 HRs. As it turns out, there are five other second-tier 2Bs whose runs scored were tightly bunched in the 85 to 93 range: Aaron Hill, Brandon Phillips, Dan Uggla, Richie Weeks and Ben Zobrist. The same five all had 18 or more HRs. So you can see that the only support for the elevated Yahoo! ranking is those 20 steals in the first half of last year before teams started to pay attention to Kipnis on the base paths. But these other 2Bs are all aged 30 or higher.
So the bottom line here is that if you play in a keeper league, you might want to reach and take Kipnis early. But if not, be patient, bide your time and you will get a dependable 2B for this year.