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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: JASON KIPNIS 2B CLEVELAND INDIANS

                                                          Jason Kipnis

With second base annually being one of the more shallow positions in fantasy baseball, any new infusion of talent and potential always has the attention of all of us who sit down to draft each and ever season.  With Ian Kinsler and Brandon Phillips getting older and losing some speed, Dustin Pedroia an annual injury worry, there is risk even with the top guys.  However there surely will be some fierce battles in drafts this winter over burgeoning Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis who is poised to pass the three names already mentioned in settling right behind Robinson Cano at the top of the position hierarchy.  Possessing a power/speed game that is always highly sought after in fantasy baseball (especially at second base), Kipnis still has room to add to his growing numbers as he only 27 this season.  So let's dive right in and get to know Kipnis a little better as we determine where his already impressive numbers could be going.

Before we proceed further as always let's take a closer look at Kipnis' numbers from last season:

.284
17 HR
84 RBI
86 R
30 SB
564 at-bats

Impressive numbers indeed, in particular the 17/30 Kipnis put up in the power/speed category which was a slight improvement from the 14/31 he had the year prior.  The fact Kipnis was right in the same neighborhood there last season as he was in 2012 suggests his ability there is no fluke and as he reaches his prime years, some more slight improvement could be on the way as he continues to get comfortable against major league pitching.  While I don't see Kipnis stealing 40 bases, he could inch the home runs up to the 20-22 range while also boosting the steals to around 35.  Even a 20/35 year would be second round territory and thus make Kipnis one of the most valuable players in all of fantasy baseball. 

Moving on from the power/speed realm, Kipnis showed some nice gains in the batting average department last season as he went from a rough .257 in 2012 to last season's .284.  However truth be told Kipnis got a bit of help in the BABIP department as when you look at the fact he struck out 143 times in those 564 at-bats, he could very well slide back to the .260 range for this season if no improvement is made in the K rate.  In fact Kipnis' K rate got a bit worse in 2013 than it did in 2012 so that is one red flag issue to be aware of. 

In finishing out the rest of the numbers, Kipnis has every right to boost his runs total a bit hitting near the top of the lineup, while his RBI depend on the rest of those getting on base prior to his turn in the order.  While I don't see Kipnis reaching the century mark in either runs or RBI, he could approach 90 in both.

Putting it all together, Jason Kipnis looks like the new Ian Kinsler circa 2010 without as much power.  The comparison works as Kinsler has had shaky averages throughout his career but also has put up some terrific power/speed totals during that period.  While once again Kipnis won't ever reach 30 home runs like Kinsler has done before, he should be able to challenge for the number 2 spot among all second baseman and also be one of the more impactful bats in fantasy baseball this season.

2014 PROJECTION:  .267 19 HR 89 RBI 92 R 32 SB


Be sure to check back for more of the starting pitching rankings as we move forward through the week.  Let us hear your thoughts.

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