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Jason Kipnis' 2014 was a major disappointment, hopefully it's behind him

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Another position, another injury riddled season tanked the numbers.

Jason Kipnis, not straining his oblique
Jason Kipnis, not straining his oblique
Kyle Rivas/Getty Images

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After a breakout in 2013 and a contract for Jason Kipnis during spring training, second base was supposed to be a strength for years to come. Unfortunately, Kipnis strained an oblique early in the year and it really affected his overall numbers

Kipnis tried to gut it out and made 121 starts at second, with Mike Aviles starting 28. Jose Ramirez started 7 times, with Zach Walters, Elliot Johnson and Justin Sellers started 3, 2 and 1 respectively. Again Terry Francona refrained from making too many substitutions as only 18 relief appearances occurred, topped by Sellers' 6.

Here is how they individually performed at the second sack:

PA

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

wRC+

Kipnis

532

244

315

336

651

89

Aviles

118

297

316

459

776

119

Ramirez

27

111

111

111

222

-47

Walters

8

375

375

875

1250

260

Johnson

7

143

143

286

429

12

Sellers

3

000

000

000

000

-100

After totaling 283/366/451 and a 128 wRC+ in 2013, Kipnis had a major fall-off. His on-base was still fairly decent considering his average was way down. But that oblique affected that power stroke with just a 336 slugging. It is really telling that Aviles had such better numbers in limited action. Walters was fantastic in his four games. Ramirez, surprising looks terrible here, but the majority of his playing time happened in the early part of the season when he really struggled with the bat.

With Kipnis' down year, second base is not going to look favorably against the rest of the division:

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

wRC+

Twins

252

351

425

777

122

Tigers

276

309

418

727

103

Indians

247

304

353

657

89

Royals

354

293

343

636

77

White Sox

235

278

340

618

69

Brian Dozier's excellent season vaulted the Twins to the top of the AL Central with Ian Kinsler and the Tigers a notch back. They were third and fourth in the AL behind the Mariners (Cano) and Astros (Altuve). The Indians came in at tenth with the Royals eleventh and the White Sox thirteenth (by OPS). Only five teams surpassed 100 wRC+, with the Twins narrowing the gap on the Mariners and Astros. The Royals dropped a bit there while the White Sox finished last with the A's.

The Indians didn't stand out in any category except stolen bases (24-second in league) as the traditional stats like doubles (28), homers (14), RBI (54) and runs scored (78) all finishing within a few of the league average. The BAbip of 271, was just a shade under the league average of 298.

Batting

Baserunning

Fielding

Offense

Defense

WAR

Kipnis

-6.7

5.7

-8.0

-1.0

-6.1

1.1

Aviles

2.5

0.8

-0.3

3.3

0.2

0.8

Ramirez

-4.4

0.0

1.0

-4.3

1.2

-0.3

Walters

1.4

0.0

-0.1

1.4

-0.1

0.2

Johnson

-0.7

0.0

-1.3

-0.7

-1.2

-0.2

Sellers

-0.7

0.0

-0.3

-0.7

-0.3

-0.1

The one thing the oblique didn't seem to affect was Kipnis' basepath abilities. He was more efficient, stealing 22 and only being caught thrice, compared to 30 and 7 in 2013. That enabled his baserunning factor to jump from 2.3 to 5.7. His fielding dropped a bit, but his hitting sunk from 21.0 to -6.7, a massive fall off. That baserunning kept him from going negative on the year. The scary part is Aviles actually fares out well here, much to my chagrin.

And here is how the Tribe stacked up with their AL Central foes:

Batting

Baserunning

Fielding

Offense

Defense

WAR

Tigers

2.o

9.3

13.6

11.4

16.1

5.6

Twins

17.8

8.3

-7.0

26.1

-4.6

5.0

Indians

-8.6

6.6

-8.9

-2.0

-6.4

1.5

Royals

-17.8

3.6

-1.3

-14.2

1.2

1.0

White Sox

-22.6

0.8

-6.9

-21.9

-4.5

-0.5

This was just a two team race between the Tigers and Twins. I'd never suspect Kinsler would rate that highly defensively, but Dozier definitely outhit the rest of the Central. Between Kipnis, Infante and Beckham, the rest of the division was pretty awful.

The Tigers graded out on top, with Pedroia and the Red Sox the only team with better defensively. Altuve and Cano were the only ones to outhit Dozier, but it wasn't by much.

There were dix decent teams (Angels the only one not previously mentioned), one ok team, the Rays, then everyone else. Beckham and the White Sox finished dead last.

I expect a big rebound from Kipnis this season. He may not reach 2013 again, but I wouldn't put it past him. He is 28 this year and still in his prime. The Tribe really need him to perform better to "justify" the contract. The good news is, even a slight rebound and he definitely could be an attractive trade piece. I don't hope it goes that way, but Antonetti has never been shy in those type of deals.

If Kipnis does not seem to be the answer (and I doubt that would happen for two to three years), there isn't a ton of depth at second in the system currently. The only minor leaguer of note is Yhoxian Medina, who slashed 288/357/356 at Carolina last year. But he is already 24 and not really a prospect. Of course, with all the depth at short, someone could easily slide over too.