A Healthy Jason Kipnis Means Healthy Production For Tribe

by Gordon Watkin | Posted on Saturday, May 23rd, 2015
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The Indians star is in early whispers for an A.L MVP award.

 Jason Kipnis is on an absolute tear right now, amassing 18 hits in his last 10 games boosting his average above .341 and his OBP above .400. It is no coincidence that the Indians have won 7 of their last 9 games throughout that stretch, and are amidst one of the hottest teams in baseball. Kipnis began the season ice-cold and appeared to be extending poor habits from last season into the infancy of 2015. Then Terry Francona, with his back against the wall, moved Kipnis to the top of the order hoping to reignite the Indians’ $52.5 Million dollar outfielder turned second baseman. Needless to say the move is paying large dividends, and Cleveland continues to push toward supplanting the White Sox to ascend from the division basement.

2014 was a disappointing year for both Kipnis and the Indians alike, and made many question the lucrative contract he accepted just one year prior. Kipnis slashed .240/.310/.330, and the Tribe sunk to 85-77, a 5 game regression from 2013, and missed the post season.

Kipnis’ recent play has also positively impacted the likes of Trevor Bauer, Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco, who have all been able to pitch with leads and go deeper into ball games, alleviating stress on a priorly overworked bullpen. Personally, I rival the opinions of experts who believe elite pitching staffs can carry mediocre offensive teams, because I believe the two are interdependent with the timeliness of scoring to play an equally large role as the quantity of runs scored. Cleveland has been supporting this theory; Although averaging 6 runs per game during this hot 10 game stretch, the Indians are an outrageously high scoring series in Texas (a series where the Tribe scored 19 runs in 3 games) removed from never surpassing 4 runs in a game, and yet have won 80 percent of their games.

A hot Jason Kipnis sets the table for the rest of the lineup, and although underperforming, still contains extra-base power threats in Carlos Santana, Brandon Moss and of course 2014 MVP runner-up Michael Brantley. This unique combination of speed from Kipnis and Brantley combined with the extra-base power of Brandon Moss and Carlos Santana (both hitters have also begun to heat up of late) leaves little room to speculate that this recent stretch of success is sustainable when Kluber and co. continue to pitch this dominant.

Going into the season, many experts speculated the Indians to be a “dark horse” World Series contender, containing a balanced attack with a deep pitching staff. Inconsistency and lack of timely hits have plagued the season thus far, but this recent stretch and Kipnis’ stellar play leave an abundance of room for optimism and also an opportunity to re-evaluate what this team can actually do. Similar to the A.L East, no team has completely dominated the division and began to truly pull away. Although Cleveland sits 8.5 games back of the division leading Kansas City Royals, the style of baseball being played is not only sustainable, but has been done by this core group of players and this manager prior in 2013; The same team that went 21-6 in September and 92-70 overall.

The emergence of Kipnis may potentially restore order and consistency throughout the entire Indians roster, and transcend 2015 into a season very similar to 2013; playoff bound and a team to be reckoned with. 

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Gordon Watkin
About the Author

Gordon is a Sport Management graduate from Brock University. He has a background playing professional soccer, but is an avid sports fan particularly of the Cleveland Indians. Follow Gordon on Twitter @GordonWatkin.

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