Aug 28, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis (22) hits an RBI single during the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
A former second-round pick of the Tribe, Jason Kipnis has been a hero for much of his tenure. After wowing in a brief stint in 2011, the left-handed batter went on to produce a pair of excellent seasons before collapsing in 2014. Entering the season, many fans of the Cleveland Indians worried that a player who was seen as the future of the franchise would not be able to live up to his new contract. After the emergence of Jose Ramirez as a quality big leaguer, some fans pushed for the team to move Kipnis to the outfield to make room for top prospect Francisco Lindor.
Then after struggling in March and April, Kipnis had one of the best Mays in recent history and erased all doubt in his talent. He would go on to represent the team at the 2015 All-Star Game and make the case for first half American League MVP. Arguably the biggest surprise of the season has been that Kipnis is no longer a liability in the field and that he is actually an above-average defender at second base.
His early-season success should be able to continue into September. While he has never been a stud in the season’s final month, he has tended to be better than average. The biggest reason to believe in the 28-year-old to overcome this track record is that he has changed his approach at the plate. He has compensated for a decrease in power by slicing down his fly ball totals and replacing them with line drives, which are much more likely to fall for hits. By changing the way he hits the ball, Kipnis has managed to create a stable batting average on balls in play.
Finally, we come to the sole pitcher on the list…
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