Who needs Grady Sizemore when you have Jason Kipnis? Kipnis is one of the most popular players among fans and the Cleveland Indians organization. However, not only is the All-Star second basement loved, he is also pretty good at the game of baseball. Since being called up to the Indians in 2011, he has done nothing but enhance his game.
Last season was Kipnis’ best season thus far. He had a .284 batting average, with 17 home runs, 84 RBIs and 30 stolen bases. He also had an OBP of .366. His production earned him an All-Star game appearance at Citi Field this past season. Kipnis was also able to experience the postseason for the first time, in a loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-0. However, even after all the success he is still far from a finished product. One of the major things Kipnis has continued to work on is his defense.
Coming out of Arizona State was the biggest question mark as well as if he could make the transition from left field to second base full-time. It has worked. He has made plays during games that are reminiscent of Roberto Alomar and Omar Vizquel during the late 90s. There were obvious growing pains between Kipnis and Asdrubal Cabrera, but their chemistry has improved each year. His fielding percentage was .982, which is second to his .991 percentage in 2012.
Another feat that Kipnis wants to overcome are his strikeouts. He led the team in them with 143. Most teams do not want their two hole hitter accumulating that many whiffs. A lot could be attained to him swinging for the fences, instead of getting the situational hit and going for the single or double. He also has to work on not swinging at the outside breaking ball and curveball.
At times, he looks only like a fastball hitter, but in order to continue his advancement as one of the top second basemen in the MLB, he has to be able to see the ball better. A prime example of this was during the playoffs last year. Rays pitcher Alex Cobb threw nothing but breaking balls and curveballs, and all Kipnis was able to was ground out.
However, that is all anybody was able to do during that game. Kipnis is due for a big year this season. He now has postseason experience, and knows how pitchers will adjust to him after two years of service. Just like last year, he is the most important piece to the team and their success. If he is able to improve the few faults in his game, there is no reason he can’t be the best second basemen in all of baseball next year.