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July 21, 2014

The Buyer's Guide

Jason Kipnis

by J.P. Breen


Prior to the season, the upper fantasy echelon of the second base position appeared to be a rather precarious investment. Robinson Cano inked a mega-contract with Seattle, which made many fantasy owners nervous that his power numbers would spiral down the drain. Dustin Pedroia saw his power production drop precipitously in 2013 and had finally found himself on the wrong side of 30. Ian Kinsler compiled rather pedestrian (for him) numbers a year ago and was transitioning that performance to a more pitcher-friendly environment in Detroit.

The traditional fantasy stalwarts at second base were vulnerable. It seemed a changing of the guard could occur and other guys could step into the limelight—and in some ways, that’s exactly what has happened with Dee Gordon, Jose Altuve, and Anthony Rendon asserting their fantasy dominance in the first half of the 2014 season. After the season, perhaps we must re-evaluate who can now be labeled as “elite” at the position.

However, Jason Kipnis wasn’t supposed to be one of the question marks. He was the second-ranked second baseman in 2013, and he appeared poised to lead the future elite group of middle infielders. After all, the young man entered the 2014 season at only 27 years old, the start of his assumed prime. The power/speed combination had long enticed fantasy owners, but in 2013, he finally posted a .284 batting average. For some, that was the last-remaining concern about Kipnis and his fantasy profile. If he could offer 20 homers and 30 stolen bases without a poor batting average, he’d be golden—and that’s exactly what he flashed in 2013. Many people, including myself, expected those trends to bleed into the 2014 season.

Current slash line: .258/.339/.371 with five home runs and 13 stolen bases.

What the hell happened? At the All-Star Break, Kipnis had barely wedged his way into the top-20 second basemen, ranking 18th behind uninspiring guys like Omar Infante, DJ LeMahieu, and Josh Harrison. After a couple nice days over the weekend, he vaulted to 14th, which is still well below expectations. I received an email from Scott in New York this week, asking if he should throw in the towel on Kipnis and look elsewhere for better overall production. Good news: that’s exactly the sort of question we answer every Monday in this space.

(Side note: If you have specific players you’d like featured in The Buyer’s Guide column next week, leave your requests in the comments section or shout it to me on Twitter, @JP_Breen. Perhaps you’ll get a brief 30 seconds of fame next week, like Scott. One can only hope, right?)

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Related Content:  Fantasy,  Jason Kipnis

9 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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ChicagoOriole

If the author has a moment, the game works both ways: lefties could have made an adjustment against Kipnis (they are allowed to learn too) and achieved dominance. Is there any lack of evidence of that in pitch selection, location, etc?

Jul 21, 2014 04:25 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member J.P. Breen
BP staff

I recognize the pitch selection could've changed, but at some point, when you've already reached nearly 2000 words, some things don't make the cut. He saw 28% breaking balls in 2013 from lefties and has seen 28% breaking balls from lefties this year. His zone profile against lefties is quite similar (w/ perhaps a tick more pitches thrown in on the inner half than last year). If anything has really changed, it's that Kipnis is swinging at only 35% of sliders this year, while he swung at 43% of sliders a year ago.

In the end, I didn't include charts on this information because it didn't seem to bring anything big to the discussion, and I had already rambled on for too long.

Jul 21, 2014 06:05 AM
 
Dodger300

Au contraire: I find Josh Harrison to be inspiring.

Jul 21, 2014 04:28 AM
rating: 2
 
Dodger300

Now that the season is over, Josh Harrison clearly established himself by earning an All-Star berth, finishing second in the league in batting, and accumulating 5.3 bWAR with an OPS+ of .134, while displaying mad skills whenever he was in a pickle.

Josh Harriason was a major inspiration this season!

Oct 08, 2014 14:32 PM
rating: 0
 
OonBoon

Kipnis had stretch last year- 5-6 weeks of utter dominance. But the rest of the time, he was putrid. I have to disagree about buying.

Jul 21, 2014 06:32 AM
rating: 0
 
anderson721

I've been offered Kipnis and Kemp for Kole Calhoun. Not really interested, but this gives me pause.

Jul 21, 2014 07:08 AM
rating: 0
 
David Schwalb

Calhoun is a good candidate, but may have trouble with sample size. I like Calhoun long term.

Jul 22, 2014 09:19 AM
rating: 0
 
stockhfcrx

Would you platoon Alcantara when Kipnis faces lefties?

Jul 21, 2014 08:00 AM
rating: 0
 
Masshole

Corey Dickerson or Francisco Liriano

Jul 21, 2014 08:55 AM
rating: 0
 
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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Monday Morning Ten Pac... (07/21)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article The Buyer's Guide: How... (07/14)
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Fantasy Article The Buyer's Guide: Fra... (07/28)
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Fantasy Article Deep Impact: Week 16 (07/22)

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