2013 Indians Fantasy Forecast: Jason Kipnis

We’ve already taken an in-depth look at Indians’ shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera‘s fantasy value in 2013. Now we’ll focus our attention on his double play partner, Jason Kipnis. After exploding onto the scene in 2012 and capturing the hearts of Tribe fans everywhere, it’s time to determine just how valuable he is in the fantasy world and whether or not he can be relied on to carry you to a fantasy league championship.

  • Player: Jason Kipnis
  • Eligible Position(s): Second Base
  • Average Position Rank: #6
  • Projected Draft Position: 6th round
  • Projected Auction Value: $13

Jason Kipnis’ preseason fantasy value is a classic example of track record versus potential and how sometimes a strong, consistent, experienced resume can outweigh potential in the fantasy world.

We all agree that the ceiling for Kipnis is much higher than what he showed us in 2012. However, a lot of fantasy seasons are lost when owners reach for potential rather than banking on experience. It’s tempting to take Kipnis early, say the third or fourth round, but in doing so, one is risking seeing an older player with a proven track record putting up a more consistent performance and carrying a competitor to a championship.

That is why Kipnis, with his combination of power, speed, and plate discipline is rated below fantasy stalwarts like Brandon Phillips, Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler, and Dustin Pedroia. A proven track record of success is also what has some mock draft boards rating Rickie Weeks higher than Kipnis despite Weeks’ absolutely dreadful 2012 campaign. History is also what will cause some amateur fantasy owners to draft Chase Utley or Dan Uggla before taking Kipnis.

But, are owners who cast aside Kipnis’ potential in favor of another player’s proven consistency being short-sighted? Honestly, it all depends. In a roto league where it is imperative to get players who can do everything well Kipnis probably holds more value than in a head-to-head league where some stats can be ignored in favor of others. If you are in a keeper league, regardless of style of play, Kipnis should be a target for reasons that are more than self-explanatory.

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Now that we all are on the same page on how to judge Kipnis, let’s get down to what we can expect numbers wise. As I’ve already explained, Kipnis’ 2012 was a tale of two halves. For all the good that he did basically until July, Kipnis was equally as bad after that. He’s batting average plummeted, his power diminished, and his overall production fell off the map. Because of that, many experts don’t know which version is the real Jason Kipnis.

Some projections have Kipnis hitting upwards of the mid .280′s and getting very close to 20 home runs and 100 RBI. Others project him to be much closer to a .250 hitter with power numbers more closely resembling his second-half swoon from a year ago. However, one positive to take away is that most projections indicate confidence in Kipnis’ overall ability to get on base, a plus for leagues which take into account OBP or OPS. With a year of experience under his belt there’s no reason to think Kipnis won’t have a better understanding of the strategies of opposing pitchers and be able to make better decisions at the plate.

Perhaps Kipnis’ greatest value though comes in his ability to steal bases. In 2012, he swiped a total of 31. This came as a pleasant surprise as most owners grabbed Kipnis for his RBI and power potential from the second base position. Unfortunately, there is no track record to indicate whether or not this was a fluke occurrence or something we can come to expect on a yearly basis. Over time, will Kipnis’ stolen base numbers decline or will he maintain a total somewhere in the mid-to-upper 20′s? It will more than likely be determined by his role in the Indians lineup as either a top of the order table setter or middle of the order power guy.

That said, could be a breakout year for Jason Kipnis. Having survived his first full big league season in one piece, his progression as a major leaguer should move quickly in an upward direction. So while it is tempting to go with a proven commodity at second base earlier in the draft, taking a chance on Kipnis could be the way to go for owners looking to make a bold move and grab a guy ahead of the curve. For those in auction leagues, don’t be afraid to throw a few extra dollars Kipnis’ way. While his value may be projected as $13 right now, by season’s end we may look back think it should have been much, much higher.

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Topics: Cleveland Indians, Jason Kipnis

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