Can The Indians’ Jason Kipnis Return To His All-Star Form?


Jason Kipnis dealt with the lingering effects of a torn oblique seemingly all of 2014. After an injury to his ring finger following the season slowed him, he’s now ready to go. Can he find redemption in 2015?

Coming off a breakout season in 2013, Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis was poised to solidify himself as one of the divisions best. But a torn oblique early in the 2014 season slowed him, and he was never able to recover and display his All-Star form.

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After struggling to a .240 average with just 32 extra-base hits in 129 games. To make matters worse, he injured his ring finger while lifting weights after the season ended, which needed a pin inserted to aid in the healing process. With the pin pulled, Kipnis is ready to go in 2015.

"“(I’m) much better actually in terms of the body,” Kipnis said. “Honestly, I had that little hiccup with the finger. We finally got the pin out and are going through our progressions and we are actually right on pace if not even ahead of schedule, so things are going (well) right now and we’ll build our way back up. h/t Matthew Florjancic, WKYC"

With the oblique injury lingering and making performing at the level he was used to difficult, Kipnis said he learned to adapt. Knowing you’re capable of doing more, but physically being unable to can be taxing, especially emotionally. But he kept his focus, finding anyway he could to help the tribe win games.

"“You hear the quicksand theory,” Kipnis said. “The harder you struggle and the harder you try to get out of it, the deeper you dig yourself, but it simplified things for me because I got to a point where, ‘Look, I’m not going to be putting out the production that I can be, let me find a way to win. Let me find a way to help this team win the game, let me find out what else I can do.’"

It’s clear the injury took its toll on Kipnis at the plate. An oblique injury can be just as detrimental as a hamstring, and the numbers show the effects. He saw his line drive percentage fall from 24.7 to 22.6, and his BABIP dropped almost 60 points from 2103, from .345 to .288. The most glaring metric though was his home run to fly ball ratio. His 2013 campaign saw it hit 12.4 percent, but plummeted to 4.8 last season. The core strength clearly wasn’t there.

Steamer and FanGraphs projections are fairly even, with the most discernible difference in batting average. Steamer forecasts a .253 average and a 2.5 WAR, while FanGraphs sees a .272 with a 3.8 WAR.

Projections are fun in theory, but are based off of the numbers only. And coming off an injury-riddled season, it’s hard to believe that those numbers are the “real” Kipnis.

He showed his ability to overcome and be effective, however limited he actually was. That type of willingness shows his chance at redemption could be greater than most.

Next: Santana Poised For Breakout Campaign