Sports Illustrated recently released their latest MVP watch and leading the AL herd is Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis. Despite a rough month of April, Kipnis rode a record-setting May and an equally hot June to lead all other American League players, according to SI's crack team of MVP watchers. That's right, Kip is beating Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout, Josh Donaldson, and even All-Star second baseman Omar Infante. (For those who care about the other league, SI has the NL currently being led by Bryce Harper, with Paul Goldschmidt, Todd Frazier, and Max Scherzer in pursuit.)
The Indians poor win/loss record in June has tempered a bit of the league-wide Kipnis hype, but for Tribe fans it should be no surprise seeing him among the leaders in the AL MVP race. Here are a few key stats and where Kipnis ranks among qualified AL batters:
- 4.6 WAR -- 1st
- .354 AVG -- 1st
- .431 OBP -- 2nd
- 169 wRC -- 2nd
- 99 Hits -- 1st
- 24 Doubles -- 1st
- 4 Triples -- T-3rd
- 10 Stolen Bases -- 10th
It's still difficult to track defensive effectiveness using statistics (FWIW the statistics like Kipnis' defense this year), but Kipnis has certainly passed the eye test this year, including the eye of Sports Illustrated. In the blurb praising Kipnis, he's said to have "outstanding play in the field." I'm inclined to agree.
Heading into Friday night's game against the Baltimore Orioles, Kipnis is carrying a 19-game hitting streak and a Progressive/Jacobs Field record 28-game hitting streak. You'd think he eventually has to cool down, but he's been so good for so long that there's no telling how far this season can take him.
Understandably, Kipnis' biggest competition for the MVP right now are division rival Miguel Cabrera and some guy named Mike Trout. Luckily, being that we're Cabrera's personal stat booster, the Indians only play the Tigers seven more times this season, and not at all until September, so his numbers might drop between now and then, while Kipnis hopefully remains engulfed in base-hitting flames.