If you would have asked me prior to the start of the 2012 season, “The Indians are represented on the All-Star team, who is the first name that comes to mind?” I would have likely answered with Asdrubal Cabrera. It is not that I did not respect the talents of other Indians players such as Carlos Santana or Chris Perez, but to me Cabrera had the edge if he was able to build on his impressive 2011 season. It is not that Cabrera has disappointed this season either:
– Cabrera is one of only two shortstops in baseball who have walked more than they have struck out (Jose Reyes is the other).
-His 17 doubles are good for second most in baseball among shortstops.
-He leads all shortstops in on-base percentage (.392 OBP), is third in slugging (.489 SLG), and second in OPS (.881).
Numbers aside, this is not a piece to discuss Asdrubal Cabrera’s chances on making the American League All-Star team; Instead, this piece is to focus on his double-play teammate Jason Kipnis. After showing Indians fans what he could do in limited at-bats last season prior to injury, an argument could be made that Jason has been the Indians MVP of the first-half. Despite having some hefty competition with other American League second baseman, Kipnis has shined enough to warrant some attention for an All-Star spot.
Here is Kipnis in a nutshell (from baseball-reference and espn trumedia):
-Jason is second among American League second basemen in hits with 75, trailing the Yankees Robinson Cano (79).
-Kipnis currently leads all AL 2B in RBI’s with 41, 8 RBI’s ahead of the next closest player.
-His .239 batting average with two strikes and .327 average with men on base is highest in the AL among second basemen, and 11th in AL overall.
-Second in the AL in stolen bases with 17, Kipnis has only been caught stealing once.
-He ranks 6th in the American League in Wins Above Replacement with a rating of 2.5.
-Kipnis leads all of baseball with a power-speed number of 13.4; A statistic developed by Bill James, it creates a harmonic mean of home runs and stolen bases to show which players feature the most lethal power/speed numbers.
-Jason is 3rd among American League second basemen in fielding, committing only three errors (good for a fielding percentage of .991).
Here is the predicament however:
American League All-Star Voting, Second Basemen as of June 18th:
Ian Kinsler, Rangers: 2,580,306
Robinson Cano, Yankees: 2,565,046
Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox: 1,331,657
Jason Kipnis, Indians: 615,409
Robert Andino, Orioles: 554,717
Jason is clearly behind in the popularity contest that is All-Star fan balloting. Although part of this has to do with the low attendance at Progressive Field this year, most of it has to do with playing in a smaller market. As you can see from the numbers, Jason has absolutely no chance to catch the top three players on the ballot, being over 700,000 votes away just from Pedroia; therefore, how can Kipnis make the All-Star roster?
Well, he could win the “Final Vote” you know. Oh, I probably should explain what that is for anyone who does not know. The “Final Vote” is a final ballot that will take place July 1st-5th this year. Each league lists five players who are deserving of a spot on the All-Star roster, yet were not selected by fan voting or coaches. Since the all-star roster calls for 2-3 second baseman, it is highly unlikely that Kipnis (although deserving) will receive one of the All-Star reserve spots; however, I do expect Kipnis to appear as one of the final five players on the Final Vote ballot.
If Kipnis appears on the Final Vote ballot, for gosh sakes somebody vote for this kid! After all, there is not a player in baseball who plays with as much energy as the youthful Kipnis. Reward the guy!