Cleveland Indians: Should we worry about Jason Kipnis?

(Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has gotten off to a slow start in 2018. Should fans be worried?

Slow starts are a part of baseball. Each year, several key players get off to slow starts and still end up producing good seasons. On the flip side, several players get off to hot starts and finish with mediocre seasons. That’s part of the great game of baseball.

But Jason Kipnis is in the former category, getting off to a very slow start this season. Over the first month, Kipnis sports a slash line of .167/.248/.225 with 28 strikeouts, tied for second most on the team. He has the worst batting average of any of the regular starters on the Indians.

Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona could accept a batting line like that when it was a week or two into the season. But now that we’re a month in and things still haven’t turned around, it may be time to start getting worried.

Related Story: Examining Indians offensive woes

Reaching a plateau

As baseball nerds like me know, there is a certain plateau that you have to cross before teams should start making judgments about a player’s productivity. If a player reaches 100 at bats and still hasn’t gotten things going, a team would be in the right to be concerned with the level of production.

Jason Kipnis has had 102 at bats this season.

He’s reached the 100 AB plateau and is still well below the Mendoza Line. He’s drawn 11 walks, third highest on the team, and that’s the only reason his .248 OBP is as good(?) as it is. Kipnis has looked terrible at the plate this season, and now that we’re a month and 100 at bats in, the Indians would have every right to make some changes.

What changes could be made?

The Indians wouldn’t pay Kipnis over $13 million to just sit on the bench the rest of the season, so forget about that idea. But Jose Ramirez is more than capable of taking over second base duties and Kipnis could be forced off his position again.

Attempting to move Kipnis back to the outfield might not be all that productive either. Putting him in an unnatural position probably wouldn’t help his hitting woes.

Trading Kipnis sounds easy, but no one makes major trades at this point in the season. If he goes on the trading block, it wouldn’t be until July. By then, he could turn things around and finally start hitting, who knows. If his struggles continue, no one would want him anyway. He’s under contract for too much money this year and next year. Other teams won’t be willing to take on that salary for an underperforming second baseman.

We may just be forced to wait it out with Kipnis and hope he turns it around soon. We’ve reached the point where the team should be worried about Kipnis’ production, but a full scale change likely won’t happen.

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The Cleveland Indians offense has struggled mightily to start the season. It’s still early, but they need guys like Kipnis to get hot fast.