Although most of the AL Central discussion is on the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals, the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians stole the show Friday with an up-and-down extra innings showdown. Although neither starting pitcher did much to help his team, the bats were out in full force. Ultimately, it was Drew Stubbs’ third double of the game that drove in Mike Aviles for the winning run.
While seven different players drove in a run and 13 different players had a hit, the most important performance came from Indians 2B Jason Kipnis. Kipnis went 2-4, with a triple and four RBI. Although his huge performance was crucial to the Indians’ win, the real value would be if this turns Kipnis’ season around.
Kipnis was batting .189/.265/.270 entering Friday night’s big game. With an average glove, the Indians need Kipnis to perform with his bat if he is going to perform close to his 3.1 WAR performance of 2012. Although his 31 stolen bases are unlikely to be repeated, the team would value him matching his .335 OBP, as the lineup around him has improved greatly. Two of Kipnis’ early season metrics can be correlated to his slumping.
His strikeout rate of 16.2 percent last season is 27.4 percent thus far. As strikeouts continue to run rampant across baseball, the Indians will hope that Kipnis does not fall victim to the trend of taking pitches in a futile effort to work deep into counts. Additionally, his early season .255 BABIP should surely work towards his .291 career average.
If Kipnis can get on base at a higher rate, he should perform at a comparable clip to his 2012 campaign. The Indians are hoping Friday’s performance is a sign of things to come.