Cleveland Indians: An ode to the JK Kid

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis is now done for the season with a hamate bone injury. Not only is his season over, but his career with the Indians may be too.

The Cleveland Indians have now lost two players within the last month or so to hamate bone injuries. Both Jose Ramirez and Jason Kipnis suffered the injuries with Ramirez rehabbing toward a possible return and Kipnis being done for the season.

Kipnis has been the Indians second baseman for some time now and this could be how it ends for him in Cleveland. Should it be the end, let’s take a look back at his time in Cleveland to this point.

He was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the fourth round in 2008 but opted to stay at Arizona State. In 2009, he hit .384/.500/.709 with a 1.209 OPS and an insane 45% extra-base hit percentage.

That season helped elevate him to a second-round choice in the 2009 draft by the Cleveland Indians. This time, he stuck with the team that drafted him and became a member of the Tribe’s farm system.

He started off tearing up the minor leagues in 2009 in Low-A Mahoning Valley. In 2010 he started in High-A Kinston before out playing his welcome there and making it to Double-A Akron.

It seemed everywhere Kipnis went he was tearing the cover off the baseball hitting over .300 in each stop along the lower minor league trail. He was making a name for himself and the Indians brass was watching diligently.

By 2011, Kipnis had made it to Triple-A Columbus and played well enough to get his call to the major league club on July 22, 2011. Kipnis never looked back and, aside from some rehab stints, he has never returned to the minors and has been the everyday second baseman for eight years.

Kipnis took the field everyday giving his best for two years and, after a very good 2013 in which he finished 11th in MVP voting, Cleveland rewarded him with a six-year deal worth $52.5 million.

The year after the deal was his worst ever in the majors and had many worried but it wasn’t long before that was soon forgotten. Kipnis exploded in 2015 to a .303/.372/.451 line with 23 home runs and 82 RBIs and finished 16th in MVP voting. This year also included his huge month of May where he hit .429/.511/.706 with 51 hits, 22 of which were for extra bases,

The 2016 season saw him help lead his team to the postseason and eventually the World Series. In that postseason he hit just .230 but came up with four home runs, including two big ones in the World Series. His World Series performance was a good one but sadly it didn’t result in a championship for he and the Tribe.

Since that magical postseason run, Kipnis has battled injuries and missed large chunks of time over the last three years and some fans have grown ready for the team to move on from him.

That large contract he signed included a club option for the 2020 season and, unfortunately, it is worth $16.5 million and the Indians are not expected to pick that option up, making Kipnis a free agent in the offseason after a buyout.

This injury is heartbreaking for him and his teammates as he knows this could be the end of his time in the only place he has ever called home in Major League Baseball. It is an ending surely no one wanted, especially Kipnis.

If it is indeed the end of his time here, I hope he finds a new team in 2020 and can stay healthy and produce for a new set of fans and show the people of a new town how he got his nickname, Dirtbag, by playing hard and having fun.

The team could find a way to bring him back even after buying his option out but it seems highly unlikely. Baseball is a business and sometimes teams have to move on, no matter who you are or what you’ve done.

Next. Indians should consider Carlos Santana at third base. dark

Kipnis was a leader for years in the clubhouse and is one of the last remaining pieces of the beginning of the core that made it to a World Series and within one win of bringing it all home. If this marks the end of your era in Cleveland, Kip, please know the fans of Cleveland will miss you and the memories you gave us over the last nine seasons.