Kipnis could join select group by leading Indians in HR and SB

David Banks

Jason Kipnis has a chance to lead the Indians in home runs and stolen bases, something few players in franchise history have ever done.


Jason Kipnis leads the Indians in stolen bases and is just one home run behind Carlos Santana and Nick Swisher for the team lead there. Barring a big finish from Michael Bourn, the stolen base lead is safe, so if Kipnis can go on a small power surge over the season's final couple weeks, he could lead the Tribe in both categories, something not many players in franchise history have ever done.

Led Indians in HR and SB:

Year Player Home Runs Stolen Bases
1904 Elmer Flick 6* 38*
1905 Elmer Flick 4* 35
1907 Elmer Flick 3* 41
1909 George Stovall 2* 25
1911 Joe Jackson 7 41
1912 Joe Jackson 3 35
1941 Jeff Heath 24 18
1947 Joe Gordon 29 7
1949 Larry Doby 24 10*
1963 Max Alvis 22 9*
1988 Joe Carter 27 27
2008 Grady Sizemore 33 38
2009 Shin-Soo Choo 20 21
2010 Shin-Soo Choo 22 22

*: tied for team lead

Of the fourteen seasons in which one player led the Tribe in home runs and stolen bases, six of them happened over a century ago, at a time when 2 home runs might get you a share of the home run lead. It wasn't until Jeff Heath in 1941 that a player led the team while finishing with double figures in each category, making him the first Indian of the live-ball era to lead in both. Then, after having it happen only five times in 95 years, it happened in three consecutive season, from 2008 to 2010, including Grady Sizemore's fantastic 2008, which has to be considered the greatest power/speed season in franchise history.

Speaking of which, while leading the team in both categories is a neat trick, not every great power/speed season is going to pop up on such a list. In 1979 Bobby Bonds led the team with 34 stolen bases, and hit 25 home runs too (in a year when only five AL players hit more than 30), but Andre Thornton hit 26 long balls, keeping Bonds from the team lead, despite it being one of just five times ever that an Indian reached the 25/25 club.

During the 1980s, Bill James developed a metric known as the power/speed number (PSN), in an attempt to identify which players showed the best combination of those two traits. Just adding home runs and stolen bases together doesn't work (because a player with 50 home runs and zero stolen bases or zero home runs and 50 stolen bases isn't showing both traits), so there's a bit more math involved:

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This gives you what is known in mathematics as the 'harmonic mean' of the two different categories. Those hypothetical 50 HR/0 SB and 0 HR/50 SB players score a zero in PSN (because, as you may recall from 4th grade math, when you multiply any number by zero, the answer is zero), whereas a player with 25 HR and 25 SB would have a PSN of exactly 25.

Top Power/Speed Seasons in Indians History:

Player Year HR SB Power/Speed #
Grady Sizemore 2008 33 38 35.32
Joe Carter 1987 32 31 31.49
Roberto Alomar 1999 24 37 29.11
Joe Carter 1986 29 29 29.00
Bobby Bonds 1979 25 34 28.81
Albert Belle 1993 38 23 28.66
Grady Sizemore 2007 24 33 27.79
Joe Carter 1988 27 27 27.00
Roberto Alomar 2000 19 39 25.55
Grady Sizemore 2006 28 22 24.64

Kipnis has an outside shot at cracking that list, at 17 and 28, his current PSN is 21.16. If he gets to 20 home runs, he'd need 33 stolen bases. If he gets to 21 home runs, 30 home runs would be enough.

Finally...

Indians Career Power/Speed Leaders:

Player HR SB Power/Speed
Kenny Lofton 87 452 145.91
Joe Carter 151 126 137.37
Grady Sizemore 139 134 136.45
Earl Averill 226 66 102.16
Tris Speaker 73 155 99.25
Omar Vizquel 60 279 98.76
Albert Belle 242 61 97.44
Julio Franco 62 147 87.22
Shin-Soo Choo 83 85 83.99
Roberto Alomar 63 106 79.03

Kipnis has 38 career home runs so far, and 64 career stolen bases. That gives him a PSN of 47.69. If he continues to perform has he has this year, he'll crack that top ten early in the 2015 season and could reach the top five by the end of that year.


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