This post is part of a contest in which you could win a free Let's Go Tribe t-shirt. In order to enter, just copy and paste the template at the bottom of this post into the comments, then fill in each category with your own prediction for how this player will do in 2014. Position players and pitchers will be featured as two separate contests. You need not submit predictions for every single player in either contest in order to win, but doing so will increase your chances, as points will be awarded separately for each player.
For position players, you'll be asked to predict each player's plate appearances (PA), home runs (HR), stolen bases (SB), batting average (BA), on-base percentage (OBP), and slugging percentage (SLG).
The comments on each post in this series will remain open through Saturday, March 29.
Today's subject is one of the cornerstone players on the club.
After a poor second half of 2012, Jason rebounded in a big way right out of the gate. He was one of the best players in baseball in the first half of the 2013 season (thanks largely to an historic month of June, in which he hit .419/.517/.699), was named an American League All-Star. He finished with a 133 OPS+, and finished 11th in MVP voting.
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2014 Preview and Projections
Jason will be playing second base every day, with only occasional days off coming against a particularly difficult southpaw. Mike Aviles is a very capable backup, and Jose Ramirez may get a couple starts here and there, but those combined probably won't start more than 15 games at second if Kipnis is healthy. He will likely bat somewhere in the top third of the lineup (probably second or third), depending on the pitcher or how others around him are doing.
Kipnis can hit for power, take a walk, and steal a base, and he's gotten better on defense with every passing season. I don't know if he'll ever be a Gold Glove candidate, but by now he's not a liability at the position.
Here are projections from three different systems, just part of Kipnis' player profile at Fangraphs.
I think we're at the point in Kipnis' career (assuming of course that Kipnis has a typical type of career) where there shouldn't be a whole lot of differences from season to season. Of course, as we saw with Grady Sizemore, the beginnings of a great career is only that, but barring injury, but barring something as hideous as that happening, I think we should be seeing one of Jason's best seasons in 2014. After all, this season is his Age 27 season, traditionally the high-water mark of many careers, as players still have much of their "young player" traits such as reaction time, quickness, and speed, and have had enough experience to develop some "old player" skills such as plate discipline and knowledge of the league.So I'll pencil in Kipnis for 600 Plate Appearances, a batting line of .280/.367/.460, and 25 home runs with 32 stolen bases. That should good enough for him to receive at least some MVP votes again in 2014.
To submit your entry, simply copy-and-paste the text below into a new comment, then fill in your predictions: