A quick reminder:
- If you haven't done so, please feel free to post your projection for the first three players in this series; I won't compile the results until after we've gone through all the starting positions. So you have until the end of next week (the 22nd) to post your entry.
- There's a couple easy ways to get to those projections: first you can click on the link in the sidebar above, or you can click on the red Community Projections button at the top of this post.
It's hard to believe that Jason Kipnis was an outfielder going into his second full season. Kipnis was drafted in the second round of the 2009 Draft out of Arizona State. A center fielder in college, the Indians moved him to second base after the 2009 season; perhaps the Indians thought that Kipnis would be blocked by Grady Sizemore, or they figured he'd end up in left or right and saw an opportunity to maximize his positional value.
The Indians, who at the time had an organization hole at second base, had attempted to move Trevor Crowe there a couple years earlier, but with no success. But Kipnis not only took to the position, but continued to hit despite being aggressively promoted in 2010. In July of 2011, just over two years after being drafted, he made his major-league debut at second base, just a year and a half after making the positional shift.
That Kipnis could not only be viable at second, but perhaps a plus defender, rounded out a player that already was a promising hitter and excellent base runner. He hit .272/.333/.507 after being brought up, though a hamstring injury took a big chunk out of his successful debut. In 2012, Kipnis played a full season, but slumped along with the rest of the club after the All-Star Break. He recovered somewhat in September, ending his year with a .257/.335/.379 line (103 OPS+).
2012 was Kipnis' first full season, and with no real backup on the roster the first half of the year, played just about every day from Opening Day until the All-Star Break; I think that had an effect on his second half slump. This year, with Mike Aviles on the bench, Terry Francona should have no problem giving Kipnis regular rest, as not only does Aviles play a good second base, he hits left-handers very well. Ryan Raburn, another lefty-masher who can play second, will likely also be on the roster, though I think Aviles will get the vast majority of backup time at second.
The Indians seem to like his future prospects, as Ken Rosenthal has reported that the Indians are discussing a lock-up deal with Kipnis, something that (our) Jason speculated on a couple of weeks ago. Kipnis is two seasons away from arbitration, so the Indians would be thinking about medium to long-term payroll impact rather than 2013-2014 payroll by getting a long-term deal signed. In other words, by committing to a long-term deal, they're banking on Kipnis being at least a good major-league regular over the next 5-7 years.
Prior to Kipnis in 2012, the last Cleveland drafted/signed position player to have a 3-win (B-Ref WAR) or better season for the Indians was Jhonny Peralta in 2008. The last Cleveland drafted position player to have a 3-win or better season was Jim Thome in 2002. While the Indians have done a great job acquiring talent via trade, the ability to draft your own talent is crucial to the health of a franchise. Hopefully Kipnis is the first in a long line of Cleveland development successes.
|162 Game Avg.||162||708||163||27||4||18||31||6||67||123||.260||.335||.403||.738||108|
Here's what ZiPS has to say about Kipnis:
It's going to go with essentially his 2012 line, which represents a big chunk of his career. Of the players looked at our series thus far, Kipnis has by far the least amount of playing time, so we don't know whether his second-half slump is just an aberration due to him wearing down or a harbinger of what he'll do the rest of his career.
Cairo predicts something very similar, at least in the hitting rates:
In this projection, Kipnis' playing time goes down significantly, whether due to injury or just rest.
Here's my projection:
I think Kipnis will get less playing time, though I think that should be a good thing. Mike Aviles should get some starts at second against difficult left-handers, which should not only improve Jason's rate stats, but should keep him fresh for the entire season.
What's your prediction?