The DEFEND Cleveland Show

Meanwhile in Cleveland Part 2: The Kipnis Vote

Kipnis

 

Back in April magic began the year for Cleveland baseball with Carlos Santana having a month to start an MLB year on the level of some of the greatest ever in Tribe history. Now, the Indians haven’t been around since the absolute beginning of baseball (which seemingly began sometime around the Iron Age), but pretty damn close, so whenever greatness happens to the degree it somehow stands out within such sizable history, people tend to take notice. Even if it happens to occur in a market the size of Cleveland.

But as much as April is currently half a season ago, Santana has come down to earth and the stated nature of forbearance that is the MLB season has come into focus, all that really matters now is whether or not your team is competing and who are the best bids for the All-Star game. And for the Tribe, who are again in 1st place, this year the best All-Star option they’re offering is not Cabrera or Perez like the last two years, and it’s not Masterson, or even Santana who seems the popular vote, it’s Jason Kipnis. Yes, the same Kipnis who went historic himself last month, so much so, his June even overshadows Santana’s April. And let’s face it, having history on your side leading into an election as opposed to having it during what acts as relatively still the primaries, should be much better timing for a nod into what baseball calls its “The Mid-Summer Classic”.

Will it though? As it stands right now the biggest claim to the game Cleveland appears to be selling is Santana’s, and though Santana deserves serious consideration, there’s a bigger argument to be made that Kipnis is clearly our man. Even if most appear blind to its reality.

Among sentimentalists of the game “Mid-Summer Classic” is a common term for the All-Star game, and watching the players competing in a situation that’s billed as “meaning something” has been a boon of late…of sorts. However, for the growing majority who understand this game is nothing more than a meaningless exhibition that’s trying to precariously straddle the gulf between having value and that of being AN EXHIBITION GAME WHICH INHERENTLY POSSESSES NO REAL IMPORTANCE WHATSOEVER, NOR SHOULD IT, it’s merely an exercise that is as equally fun to point out its abhorrent flaws and mistakes as it is to watch some of the best players in the world any given year all playing in one game. Unfortunately though, no matter what side of the fence you are on as fans, the fact that only “some” of the best players are represented in the All-Star Game each year directly reflects one of its biggest design flaws, that All-Star voting is ultimately not much more than a popularity contest . Which of course is only too ironic considering the popularity of baseball, its All-Star game and its World Series continues to barrel role downwards with all-time lows in viewership.1

All that aside, as the one who’s most responsible here is Bud Selig and his tenure as commissioner and lack of big picture decision making amounts to criticisms best suited for a whole wing of a library over that of a mere column entry, let’s just attempt to focus on the fact that only some of the best players are getting into this All-Star exhibition, and more specifically, how Jason Kipnis has made quite possibly the best claim of all to represent the American League at second base, and how it unfortunately most likely looks like he won’t be making the trip.

To do so let’s first peek at his aforementioned month of June, shall we. A peek is all you need too because the highlights pop off the page. Highlights that read two-time American League Player of the Week (and should be soon named Player of the Month) while logging an insane OPS of  1.216, wOBA of 5.06 and wRC+ of 231. Go ahead and say, “Wow!”, it’s merited. By comparison to the month of April Santana had, that again was one of the best April’s any one has ever had in a Tribe uni, Kipnis’ June was even better. It’s also one of the best months at the plate ever in Tribe history. Just looking at some pedestrian stats in that of AVG and OPS which really do little in the way of demonstrating overall value and predictability, Jason turned in a month that for the last 80 years only 5 Indians players have posted better than.2 In fact, looking beyond the Tribe’s history, Kipnis for the month of June was the best player in the bigs. Period. Better than Miguel Cabrera, and better than Posey. He was even better than Yasiel Puig and that guy has become an absolute sensation in Los Angeles on par near to that of Fernando-Mania. Oh to play in a big market…

All season Jason has increasingly shown poise, timely hitting, power, great base running and an overall value for his position of second base behind only that of Matt Carpenter and Dustin Pedroia. And the only reason he’s valued slightly less than those two is that both Carpenter and Pedroia have been superior in the field where Jason has been good at times, but mostly is a work in progress with below average range. The real problem as far as All-Star votes though is that he plays in Cleveland and our city doesn’t win any national popularity contests.

Given this fact, your AL second basemen per this heavily slanted voting process sees Cano and Pedroia at the top of the heap to be named an AL starter,3 and though you could make a clear argument Kipnis has played better than Cano (which is not to say Cano isn’t still having a great year, he is), and has played at least on par with Pedroia,4 the bottom line reality is Pedroia plays for the Red Sox and Cano plays for the Yankees. And, ’nuff said.

The further problem here however, beyond the obvious unfair advantage big market players wield, is that the All-Star game also has another fun rule in play that states every team must have a representative. Which could mean that unless Jason Castro (who’s had a quietly great year catching that’s actually been second only to Mauer in the AL) beats out Santana for a spot,5 Jose Altuva, who’s been the best thing on baseball’s worst team the last two years, could likely fill the only space left available at second base on Jim Leyland’s All-Star roster. And if  a 2013 baseball world without Kipnis as an All-Star were to happen, and if it were ever truly justifiable to do so over an All-Star game and its shoddy voting process, protests and rioting should immediately commence.

Jason Kipnis without question started slowly, but over the last two months has proven in every measurable way possible, from the eye-test to advanced stats,6 he has been the best at his position in the American League this year. And that month of June he just recorded, the greatest emphasis of a point any player could hope to muster going into the last days of All-Star voting, should be getting him a lot more attention than it is.

Vote for Kipnis, and shout about it at the top of your lungs too. It’s so deserved.

 

– Mike James

 

Listen every Friday to “Defend Cleveland Friday with Mike and Joe”  by clicking here, a weekly hour long Cleveland sports podcast companion to the DC Show that’s the best way to end you week, and the only way to begin your weekend.

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  1. Side note, in the form of a Question: How has Bud Selig maintained his perch and watched US households with televisions increase some 23 million over his 20 years in office, yet has somehow seen his beloved game have its viewership cut in half over the same span? And it’s the too many questions like these that further begs, what the f#*k, Selig?! The F#*k?! []
  2. Dale Mitchell’s Sept. 1950 with .469/1.253, Johnny Grubb’s May 1977 with .420/1.217, Albert Belle’s May 1994 with .416/1.336, Carlos Baerga’s July 1994 with .447/1.219, and Thome’s Aug. 1996 with .407/1.351 []
  3. The most glaring flaw in this stupid process determined by tix sales and name recognition is that Kipnis as a result isn’t even in the top 5 of voting for his position. If all the fans hadn’t already earned a pass for these voting transgressions in that they’re still fans of this sport no matter what Selig and his peers have let happen to it, a question of “who’s more foolish and misguided, the fans or Selig?”, would be a damn good question. []
  4. Within weighing the overall value, Kipnis has meant more to his team’s successes this year than any second baseman []
  5. Santana who currently ranks 4th in said popularity and seems the most destined Indian to make the cut. []
  6. The very same advanced stats which have determined the game on the whole as we know it the last decade plus, and will forever more. Sorry fans holding onto AVG, SLG and RBI, you can sit down to your typewriters and mail in your outrage []

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Posted by on Jul 2 2013. Filed under Featured, Show Reports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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