Friday, March 9, 2018


Boring veteran player who has six spring home runs anyone?  One of the more pronounced trends in yearly fantasy baseball leagues centers on how veteran hitters who don't steal bases often slide in drafts due to being handed the "boring" label.  We all want the five-tool studs or those who crack 40 home runs to proliferate our rosters but we habitually seem to turn our backs to the solid but unspectacular players that dot the fantasy landscape.  One such player who surely fell into the latter category going into 2018 sporing training was Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis who began to see his speed evaporate in 2015 and who comes off an injury-riddled 2017 that saw him put up the following numbers:

12 HR
35 RBI
43 R
6 SB

Now keep in mind those numbers came in just 90 games but at the age of 30, Kipnis fell into the boring veteran mode as exhibition games kicked off.  Fast forward to present day and it is Kipnis who leads all players in spring home runs with 6 as he is driving everything in sight and showing himself to be healthy.  The two certainly go hand-in-hand as a healthy hitter will always do his best work and this is where Kipnis is right now.  So now the question centers on whether this is what we can expect Kipnis to do in the regular season or if he will disappoint again.

Before we go any further, let's get some obvious things out of the way first.  We will begin with the steals which have been severely sliding from Kipnis the last few seasons. After stealing 30 bags in 2013, Kipnis has since seen those totals go from 22 to 12 to 15 to 6 over the last four seasons.  It would make sense that Kipnis would slide there as he is now 30 and that is an age where the steals begin to dry up like we are seeing with Charlie Blackmon.  So there is no sense grading a high amount of steals from Kipnis moving forward as that part of his game seems gone for good outside of maybe 7-10.

Next up is the average which has been a trouble spot of late as well with Kipnis hitting under .245 in two of his last four seasons.  What is interesting though is that Kipnis' approach is not terrible as he draws walks at a high enough rate and keeps his K/9 rate from the danger zone to make him someone who can hit .280 in 2018.  While he is far from a batting title contender, Kipnis is much better than his .232 from last season which was in fact dragged down some by an unlucky .256 BABIP  So grade improvement there.

As far as the power, Kipnis does have thump and hitters tend to add homers as they continue to age.  It is not out of the realm of possibility Kipnis has made gains there and he did hit 23 in 2016 before all the injuries showed up last season.  While I am not saying Kipnis will go out and crack 30 this year, 25 is possible if he again can stay healthy which seems to be his biggest problem.

So when you put it all together, Jason Kipnis looks like a nice bargain right now with an ADP in the 200 range and the payoff at that price could be sizable if the health cooperates  While I have been critical of Kipnis in the past, I always keep an open mind on useful players who see a drastic drop in price and that is where the Indians second baseman resides this spring.

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