Turns out Jason Kipnis is only a human, after all. He is a very, very, talented human, but a squishy earthbound creature nonetheless. May and parts of June were fantastic and even historic at times for Kipnis, but the calendar has turned to July and he has seemingly turned back into a mortal (still above-average) hitter.
In the nine games that the Cleveland Indians have played in July, Kipnis has a slash line of .206/.300/.324, which includes two doubles, a triple, four walks and no home runs in 40 plate appearances. That is not a terrible stat line by any means considering the rest of the year Kipnis is having – and it is admittedly a very small sample size – but it is his’ worst 9-game streak since the beginning of May when he first landed on Earth from planet Krypton.
|May||143||.429 (!)||.511 (!!)||.706 (!!!!)||240|
"Cooling down" is a relative term for Kipnis, of course, considering at one point he had 22 hits in a 50-PA stretch in early May, and built a 20-game hit streak during June. Regardless, there's no doubt he's been gradually coming back down to earth... but he has still been pretty damn great.
His 4.8 fWAR on the season now has him in 3rd behind Josh Donaldson and Mike Trout. Kipnis has slipped to 3rd in batting average (he's at .331), behind Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. Kipnis led the league in hits for most of the last month (he has 111 so far), but is now in 2nd, one hit behind Fielder. Kipnis still leads the league with 27 doubles, but Yoenis Cespedes and Brian Dozier are each only one behind.
A slight drop-off like this isn't surprising, in large part because almost no one ever sustains a stretch like Kipnis had for any longer than he sustained it. He has played in all but one of the Tribe’s 85 games so far this year, andis also sporting a season-long .376 BABIP, so some level of regression was to be expected.
Depending on how he plays from here on out, Kipnis winning the Most Valuable Player is not an impossibility, though it's a long shot of course. His defense has been spectacular, and he grabbed enough of the headlines early on in the season to be at the forefront of voters’ mind when the time comes, so long as he plays reasonably well during the second half.
Other than at the upcoming All-Star Game, Kipnis is unlikely to see much of any time on the bench the rest of this year. After the break (after his trip to Cincinnati, Kipnis will still get a couple days off), will his bat pick up where it was in June, or will he hit the way he has so far in July? The answer will go a long way in determining whether Kipnis and the Indians contend for any postseason hardware.