It's an even year, so you know what that means: The San Francisco Giants are guaranteed to win the World Series and Jason Kipnis is guaranteed to be terrible. At least, that is probably what you think if you like random coincidences and believe whatever happens on Ghost Hunters is real. But in the real world, where patterns like this do not mean anything and a producer probably just kicked a chair in the dark for ratings, Jason Kipnis might still be good in a year that happens to be divisible by two. So far that's been the case -- Kipnis has indeed been great, with some caveats.
Does a good slash line after 10 games mean that Kipnis is going to be great all year long? Absolutely not. But for a player that historically starts so poorly, it's nice to see him come out of the gate as one of the team's best hitters, something we should hopefully be saying all year long.
First, let's look at some context. Since 2012 when he became a full-time starter, Kipnis has been mostly average to terrible over his first handful of games. 2013 and 2015 were especially bad, as he was worth only 22 wRC+ and 39 wRC+ in those seasons, respectively. The one outlier in this minuscule 10-game sample size is 2014 when Kipnis started with 10 hits and three home runs, good for a .238/.377/.452 slash and a 138 wRC+. But he is even better early on in 2016.
Over the first 10 games of the 2016 season, Kipnis is 11-37 with four doubles and five walks. He leads the Tribe in hits, doubles, and wRC+ (148), and he his second in walks to only Carlos SrWalkATron9000 Santana, who has taken six free bases.
Kipnis has been held hitless in only four games so far, mostly to left-handed pitchers -- David Price, Matt Moore, and Steven Matz. The only right-handed starter he failed to hit against was Chris Archer, who rumor has is it is pretty good. We know Kipnis is not great against southpaws -- he slashes a pedestrian .246/.307/.347 (83 wRC+) in his career -- but when he is good against right-handed pitchers he is really good. And so far this season he has been really really good. So far this season against right-handed pitchers, Kipnis has a hilariously absurd .467/.600/.933 slash in 20 plate appearances.
Now for some much-needed caveats. For one, Jason's BABIP is .400. Obviously inflated due to small sample size, and obviously not going to stick over a full season (although he did have a .356 BABIP in 2015). Also worth noting, Kipnis is not seeing the ball particularly well, which is likely a side-effect of facing so many lefties early on. If his current plate discipline held up over a full season it would be his worst swing in terms of contact in the strike zone (81.0%), overall contact (76.3%), and swinging strike percentage (8.4%). FanGraphs also classifies 26.9 percent of his hits as "Soft," while only 30.8 percent are "Hard."
These first few games are obviously not predictive of how Kipnis will do going forward, but as far as fast starts go, you cannot ask for much more out of a player over his first 10 games. He is healthy, he is ready to go, and hopefully he is going to be awesome well into October.