by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
There were high hopes for the Indians’ middle infield entering the season, but you can argue that both Jason Kipnis and Francisco Lindor have disappointed (to different degrees). It doesn’t mean that there isn’t still hope… Or is there? Would fantasy owners be better off selling them off now or is there a rebound on the horizon? Let’s take a look:
There was a time that Kipnis was viewed as one of the elite second baseman in the game, and while he looked like he might still be that player in ’16 (.275 with 23 HR and 15 SB) things just haven’t clicked for him in ’17. Maybe part of it is due to a late start to the season, playing in 9 games in April, but by now you would’ve thought he’d have found his footing. However that hasn’t happened:
- May – .248 with 6 HR and 19 RBI
- June – .244 with 2 HR and 5 RBI
- July – .071 with 0 HR and 1 RBI
Every aspect of his approach appears to have regressed, as his line drive rate (17.3%), popup rate (14.4%) and his SwStr%, while reasonable (9.4%), would all represent career worst marks. While none of those things are irreparable, it would at least be nice if he were showing signs of correcting them.
In fact, after hitting for power in ’16 and adding 6 HR in May you could argue that he has started swinging for the fences as his fly ball rate has headed in the wrong direction:
- May – 38.5%
- June – 46.2%
- July – 61.5%
Maybe he does work it out and get back to where he was, but at this point it’s hard to bank on.
There were high expectations at the start of the season, but he entered play on Wednesday hitting .246. While the power is up overall, you have to wonder if his batted ball profile has changed to the point that it’s causing the issues:
He clearly appears to be swinging for the fences, with his lowest fly ball rate being 40.8% in June. We’d still expect better than a .250 BABIP, and with 23 doubles, 1 triple and 14 HR even a few less fly balls shouldn’t have a significant impact on his power. Wouldn’t we be happier if he hit .290 with 8-10 HR?
Throw in the ability to steal some bases, despite only having 3 SB thus far, and his good command of the strike zone (6.4% SwStr%, 29.3% O-Swing%) and the overall appeal remains. Don’t be surprised to see a significant spike in production in the second half.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball