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Cleveland Indians: Why is Jason Kipnis continuing to struggle?

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

Jason Kipnis has not been able to get things going at the plate this year. Is this a sign that the Cleveland Indians should move on from him?

Jason Kipnis would probably like to forget his last two months at the plate. The numbers have really been awful. With a .177/.268/.254 slash line and only one home run, Kipnis has been among the worst hitters in the league this season.

Many have called for his benching and, while his production might warrant that, it won’t happen. Kipnis is owed more than $13 million this season and no one gets benched when they’re getting paid that amount of money. Designating him for assignment is also likely out of the question given the high probability of being stuck with dead money.

The Cleveland Indians would rather pay Kipnis to try to figure things out at the plate instead of paying him to sit at home or play for another team.

Why is Kipnis struggling?

That’s the big question, isn’t it. Why? Is it a mechanical adjustment, is it a psychological adjustment, why isn’t Kipnis producing like normal? While those answers may be tempting for armchair hitting coaches, there is a much simpler answer to Kipnis’ struggles: Bad luck.

Kipnis has been one of the unluckiest hitters in baseball this season. His BAbip this year is at .220, which is ridiculously low. His career BAbip is at .309, and an average hitter is generally somewhere between .290 and .300 when it comes to batting average on balls in play.

BAbip is seen as an indicator of how lucky or unlucky a hitter is in a season. An extremely high BAbip is a sign of good luck while a low BAbip means bad luck. Kipnis just has terrible luck this season at the plate.

What can be done about this?

Not much, really. Pray to the baseball gods. Pray to Jobu. Find a four leaf clover, a rabbit’s foot, a leprechaun’s pot of gold. He needs something to change his luck. There’s no mechanical adjustment to make to increase a player’s BAbip. There’s no mental adjustment to make.

It’s a grounder that makes it just underneath the shortstop’s glove. It’s a bloop fly ball that just falls in. It’s legging out an infield single. It’s lucky hits like that that most players are getting and Kipnis just isn’t.

All we can do is wait for his luck to turn. That may not be the easiest thing to do, but it’s all we can do right now.

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The Cleveland Indians need to be patient with Kipnis as these struggles can wear down on a player’s psyche. Things will turn around for him.