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Indians Indians Archive Vote Kipnis; Vote Often
Written by Jeff Rich

Jeff Rich

KipnisJason Kipnis isn’t the first ballplayer to take his talents from the schoolyard in Tempe to the shores of Lake Erie.  Off the top of my head, the names of former Arizona State Sun Devils Odibe McDowell and Chris Bando come to mind, not to mention the cup of coffee that was the Travis Buck era in Cleveland, but a name like Kipnis might have some staying power in Northeast Ohio baseball lore.  With Kipnis holding things down at Second Base for Manny Acta’s club, it’s easier to bury the demons of whatever Eric Wedge did to make Brandon Phillips become an All-Star elsewhere.  I know, with less than a year of big league service under his belt, it might be a little early to ask our statue guy to start creating a mold for the youngster’s place next to Bob Feller, but he’s off to a good start.

Of course, the fans who travel Kansas City and the millions watching around the world on FOX may not be aware of the Indians Second Round Pick from 2009 when he’s absent from Ron Washington’s 33 next month for the Midsummer Classic.  Even if we’re not sure whether the Royals come from the Kansas City in Missouri or Kansas, we Cleveland fans know the recently renovated Kauffman Stadium and Royals fans probably know Jason Kipnis by now.  That doesn’t mean anything in terms of him being in the starting lineup, or even on the American League bench on July 10, but he has certainly warranted consideration for a roster spot, if not justification to win the popularity contest at

Without question, the impact he’s had on the Indians cannot be denied.  We can start out with the fact that the Indians drafted him, developed him, and got him out of the bus leagues rather expeditiously.  No one else in the starting 9 can really say that, but we all hope that we can attach that to 2008 First Round Pick Lonnie Chisenhall soon.  It’s nice that not only is a high draft pick contributing so soon, but that they successfully converted a player out of his defensive position and it’s been a nice fit.  Also, early returns indicate that Kipnis is the best 2B of a draft that saw Dustin Ackley go to Seattle with the second overall pick.  Of course, only time can reveal how accurate that statement will be in the long run.

It’s easy for me to see that Kipnis is already an All-Star caliber player, but the people who vote are having a difficult digesting something that is probably the truth.  I’ve seen the ballots, both online and in hard copy, so I know that Jason Kipnis is technically an option for voters to choose, but unless we have a Hanging Chad scandal on our hands, it’s apparent that they aren’t choosing him over the other American League options at the position right now.  If you look at the top 5 vote getters, you’ll see obvious first-ballot Hall of Fame names like Chris Getz and Robert Andino along with the usual suspects, but you won’t see Kipnis.

CanoRobinson Cano is the incumbent at the position, he has to be in Kansas City as captain of the Home Run Derby team, and his batting average is a little higher than his Cleveland counterpart.  So, you figure that he has that going for him.  Plus, he plays for the New York Yankees, so that probably helps his cause.  Playing for the Red Sox probably helps the former Sun Devil Dustin Pedroia out as well, even if a slightly higher batting average than Kipnis masks his deficiencies in other Triple Crown categories.  But, I’m not here to sell you or any All-Star voter on Yankees/Red Sox fatigue; I don’t have to because it’s yet another Arizona State guy having the ballot box stuffed to his benefit.  It isn’t easy to make any case against Texas’s Ian Kinsler; this former Sun Devil plays on a better team, belts a lot more extra-base hits, and it will be his every day skipper filling out the lineup card in Kansas City next month.

Andino and Getz round out the Top 5, and that is fairly baffling if you pay any attention to the numbers.  Though it seemed Andino homers every time the Orioles come to Cleveland, he is not the offensive juggernaut that Indians pitching seems to bring out in him.  I see a guy hitting under .250 with run-of-the-mill middle infielder numbers across the board, and can’t understand what 317,000 + voters saw in him, but Baltimore’s hot start may have launched him into the #4 spot in the voting as of last weekend.  Even though Getz hasn’t played since May 21, and has been outplayed by his understudies, you can understand the hometown guy making a run.  Yuniesky Betancourt and Irving Falu have done an adequate job filling in for Getz, who might actually be up there in the voting with Kipnis in the voting moving forward.

KinslerBatting Average is the statistical category where the Indians second baseman is really off the pace, hovering around .275, which is even keel with Kinsler, but a few points behind Cano, Pedroia, and Tampa Bay’s Jeff Keppinger, who is not on the ballot and has only played in about half of the Rays games so far.  Before you go reading too deep into Kipnis’s ability to put the ball in play, understand that he’s #3 among American League 2B in total hits with 61.  He’s behind only Kinsler in runs scored (my favorite statistic), and trails no one at his position in HR and RBI.  Since Kinsler’s name is coming up a lot, please allow me to clarify where we are not apples to apples in comparison.  Kipnis had Santana, Brantley, and Damon hitting behind him on Wednesday night; after Kinsler in the Rangers lineup, you’re looking at three straight .300 hitters in Elvis Andrus, Josh Hamilton, and Adrian Beltre.  The Indians don’t have a single everyday player hitting .300 right now.

So, the numbers are there to Kansas City him, if you don’t mind me using “Kansas City” as a verb, but you could argue that the numbers are there for several players before him, players from better TV/baseball markets.  So, why is it important that Kipnis play, especially when you consider that Little League-ish rule that requires every team to have a player on the All-Star roster?  If the Indians just get a single token invite, you have to figure that it will be Chris Perez because he is the best closer in the AL on paper, but having Kipnis on the roster is so much more important than getting Perez an appearance on the national stage.

In my lifetime, when the stars aligned for the Indians to play in the World Series, they began both Fall Classics on the road because of the alternating home field rule, which put the American League Champion on the road in odd years after the strike washed out the World Series in 1994.  Though the American League did win the All-Star Game in 1997 because of Sandy Alomar Jr.’s heroics our ballpark, the reward was not there because “This One Counts” wasn’t in play just yet.  I’ll spare you the history lesson on the 1997 World Series, but let’s just say it would have counted for a lot there.  It’s also worth mentioning that another Indians catcher, Victor Martinez, homered in what proved to be the necessary winning run in 2007, giving the American League Champion the home-field advantage in the World Series.  That year, Cleveland and Boston competed for the American League Championship Series, but again, I’ll spare you the history lesson on that one.  I’ll just say there are certain justices in seeing one of your players give your team a special advantage, even if it is in the context of such a ridiculous rule that was created to drive up ratings for an exhibition game.

AlomarKipnis would be a good fit for the Junior Circuit.  Sure, he’s nothing to write home about with the glove, but the others aren’t a wealth of web gems either.  What he brings to the table, on top of solid numbers at the plate, is the ability to move around the bases.  He may share the top of the leaderboard with other Second Basemen in the home run category, but he stands alone on the basepaths with 14 successful swipes in 15 attempts.  In other words, he brings value to your team, even if only as late inning pinch-runner.  It would be a crying shame to keep him away from Kauffman Stadium this summer.

So, how do we get Kipnis there, to be that hero in Kansas City to bring Game 1 of the World Series to the corner of Ontario and Carnegie?  The easy answer is that we vote, and we vote for Kipnis as if it means putting him on the cover of a video game.  It seems unlikely because he’s not in the Top 5, and he doesn’t play for an ESPN-friendly team.  So, you have to hope that Washington goes with common sense, and offers one of his 33 roster spots to Kipnis, but there is no shortage of Second Basemen and with Perez, Derek Lowe, and Asdrubal Cabrera potentially having All-Star seasons, Kipnis may be the odd man out.

I admit that as an Indians fan, that’s a good problem to have, but not at Kipnis’s expense.  Imagine that, too many Indians that close to the home of the Chiefs.  It's probably we don't leave it to fate or Ron Washington.  Let us do our part to get Kipnis there.  The ballots are floating around the ballpark, and you can vote up to 25 times online, if you don't mind doing some very simple Captchas.  It's fitting that the man of the hour is from the Chicago area because of what I'm asking.

Vote Kipnis.  Vote Often.

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